There’s no question the RailHawks have a solid side, but last month’s litany of struggle exposed vulnerabilities made acute by injuries and fatigue.

Last week saw the exciting signing of Guyana international Gregory Richardson, a forward who should bring a fresh jolt to the attack. And today, the team announced that the depleted back line will finally get help with the addition of Scottish veteran Greg Shields. The 32-year-old comes straight from Scottish First Division side Dunfermline Athletic. Shields has been with them for five years; the first three of those were spent in the Scottish Premier League, before the club was relegated two seasons ago. Shields has also played in the English Premier League, with Charlton.

Shields was a top player for Dunfermline, and evidently a team leader, for he was captain. Here’s a personal, revealing profile of Shields that appeared in an April edition of the (rather racy tabloid) Scottish News of the World, in which the defender discusses his father’s death from lung cancer. The story, which refers to the player as the “Dunfermline ace,” contains family photos, including one of Shields and his father in matching kilts.

Now, with two promising signings in the areas where help is needed, the RailHawks move into the season’s second half against the mid-table Vancouver Whitecaps Friday, July 17, at 8 p.m. in Cary. The game will be broadcast on Fox Soccer Channel.

On Saturday at 7 p.m., Guadalajara’s Estudiantes Tecos, of the Mexican Primera División, visits WakeMed Soccer Park, presumably to play a fresh(er) set of RailHawks players. More information on this weekend’s games here.

By the way, RailHawks blogger Tim Candon has a breakdown of just how strong the RailHawks have been for the season’s first half, notwithstanding the June swoon. The bottom line: The ‘Hawks are the second-best team in the league.