Just in: The Carolina RailHawks have signed Matt Bobo, who was first-team USL defender in 2009 with the Charleston Battery. The arrival of the central defender ensures a strong partner for RailHawks captain and All-League second-teamer Mark Schulte.

The Charleston Battery elected to stay out of this winter’s dispute over the future of second-division soccer by self-relegating to USL-2. One has to wonder whether the Battery’s seclusion in a lower-revenue, six-team league is related to the fact that two of its highest-profile players have departed the club this week: Bobo and former RailHawk back Frankie Sanfilippo, who returned to his original club, the D2 Rochester Rhinos, yesterday, after playing only one year of what was reportedly a multiyear contract.

Press release after the jump.

RailHawks land defender Bobo

Defender was All-League First Team in 2009 with Charleston

CARY, N.C. (Feb. 11, 2010) – The Carolina RailHawks have signed defender Matt Bobo, providing added depth and experience to a defense that in 2009 was among the best in the league.

“We’re really pleased we signed Matt Bobo because we believe he was one of the best defenders in the league last season,” Rennie said. “He always played well against us. And we watched him in other games against other teams and we thought he was very strong in both boxes and his general defensive play is just really, really solid.”

No doubt Bobo will help a RailHawks defense that in 2009 led the league in shutouts (17) and was tied for the fewest goals allowed (17) and best goals against average (0.633), but the 6-foot-1 defender also gives the RailHawks another big target on set pieces.

“More than anything, it’s just a good fit,” Bobo said. “The RailHawks take care of their players and Martin’s one of the best managers in the league. Those two things really tipped the scales. I saw what Martin did in Cleveland over a short period of time and what he did in Carolina last year, so I had a good sense of what I was getting with the RailHawks.”

Bobo spent the 2009 season with the Charleston Battery. He was First-Team All-League last year and anchored what was one of the top defenses in the USL First Division. The Battery conceded 21 goals, third fewest in the league, while posting 14 shutouts, and they had a 0.700 goals against average. Bobo ranked third on the team in appearances (28) and minutes played (2,346), and he also helped lead the Battery to the quarterfinals of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Before signing with the Battery, Bobo spent the previous three seasons with the Atlanta Silverbacks, where he appeared in 78 matches, played 6,783 minutes, and scored two goals and two assists. He also had stints with the Richmond Kickers and the Milwaukee Rampage, with whom he won the 2002 A-League championship.