Who are Carolina RailHawks?

  • Hammers to face Carolina RailHawks at WakeMed Soccer Park on Tuesday 12 July
  • RailHawks were formed in 2006 and have spent a decade in North American football’s second tier
  • The RailHawks are managed by former Southampton and Northern Ireland striker Colin Clarke 
Formed in 2006, Carolina RailHawks compete in the North American Soccer League (NASL) – the second tier of professional football in the United States and Canada.

Based in the town of Cary, west of the state capital of Raleigh, the team started life in the United Soccer League (USL) First Division – the predecessor to the NASL – in 2007.

The team’s unique official name is derived from the RailHawk – a fictional bird of prey that combines the speed and power of a locomotive with the aggressive nature of a hawk. Hawks are indigenous to the local area, while Cary is a traditional railway town.

After three seasons there the RailHawks spent a single year, 2010, in the temporary USSF Division 2 Professional League, finishing top of the regular season Conference Standings ahead of the likes of Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact.

When the new NASL began in 2011, the RailHawks were among the eight teams to take part, finishing the inaugural season as Regular Season champions under the management of Scottish head coach Martin Rennie.
Former Southampton and Northern Ireland striker Colin Clarke was appointed as Rennie’s successor ahead of the 2012 season, guiding the team to fourth in the standings and a famous US Open Cup victory over LA Galaxy at a sold out WakeMed Soccer Park – the club’s 10,000-capacity home since its foundation.

The RailHawks defeated the Galaxy again the following year on their way to the US Open Cup quarter-finals, while they also finished second in both stages – Spring and Fall – of the NASL season.

A third straight win over the Galaxy earned yet another quarter-final appearance in the US Open Cup in 2014, but NASL performances were less consistent.

The 2015 campaign was very much a season of two halves, with the RailHawks finishing the Spring section in third place, before an inconsistent Fall saw them slump to seventh in the eleven-team standings. The RailHawks’ leading scorer last year was Spaniard Nacho Novo, who West Ham fans may recall from spells with Dundee and Rangers.
Clarke’s team started the current campaign in fantastic form, winning their opening four NASL Spring Season matches, only for a winless run to see them drop from the top of the standings in May.

The current RailHawks roster contains three Englishmen – former Football League players Paul Black and Matt Watson and ex-Scottish Premier League player Simon Mensing – in a cosmopolitan squad that also includes Americans, a Canadian, Spaniard, Puerto Rican, Guatemalen, South African, Haitian and Trinidadian.

For more information about the Carolina RailHawks, visit the club’s official website here.

To buy tickets for Carolina RailHawks v West Ham United on Tuesday 12 July at 8pm Eastern Time, click here