The Carolina RailHawks are one of two teams left standing in the USSF D2 Pro League playoffs, but just one player — Daniel Paladini — was honored by league coaches, general managers and media in the postseason awards.
Team press release:
Paladini, whose seven goals was second most on the club, led the RailHawks in games played (34) and tied Matt Watson for the most assists with five. Paladini delivered several clutch goals this season, including two away stoppage-time goals and the game-winner against NSC Minnesota in the second leg of the quarterfinal.
“It’s Daniel’s second year in a row that he has been voted to the best eleven, and it’s well-deserved,” said RailHawks head coach Martin Rennie. “He has been a big player for us and won games for us. We look for him to continue that now until the end of the season and help the team win a championship.”
Originally drafted by the Los Angeles Galaxy of Major League Soccer with the 24th overall selection in the 2006 MLS Supplemental Draft, Paladini played for cross-town rival Chivas USA in 2008 before joining the RailHawks in 2009.
He made an immediate impact in his first season with the club, earning team MVP honors. A favorite among the fans for his skillful performance, as well as his involvement in the community, Paladini has also earned the respect of his teammates, who honored him this season with their peer-voted Top Offensive Player Award.
“It’s good for Daniel to be recognized,” said RailHawks’ Josh Gardner, Paladini’s partner in midfield. “He has put a lot of work in to this year. He’s worked on his free kick, delivery on set pieces, and he’s dangerous every time.”
Paladini, despite the accolades, remains deferential. “It’s not just me out there, it’s the whole team” deflected Paladini. “This is probably the best team I’ve ever played on. They make it easy for me to get forward and get the ball around the goal. It’s great to receive the award, but in this game it’s a team effort and not just the individual."
Soccer fans in the Triangle will get one more opportunity to see Daniel Paladini and his teammates do what they do best on Saturday, October 30th at 7 p.m. at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary. The RailHawks host the Puerto Rico Islanders in the second and final leg of the USSF D-2 Championship series.
The USSF D-2 Pro League Postseason Awards are as follows:
USSF D-2 Pro League Most Valuable Player: Ryan Pore (Portland Timbers)
USSF D-2 Pro League Goalkeeper of the Year: Jay Nolly (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)
Best XI: Goalkeeper: Jay Nolly, Vancouver Whitecaps FC Defender: Greg Janicki, Vancouver Whitecaps FC Defender: Aaron Pitchkolan, Rochester Rhinos Defender: Troy Roberts, Rochester Rhinos Midfielder: Ryan Pore, Portland Timbers Midfielder: Martin Nash, Vancouver Whitecaps FC Midfielder: Jamie Watson, Austin Aztex Midfielder: Paulo Araujo, Jr., Miami FC Midfielder: Daniel Paladini, Carolina RailHawks Forward: Eddie Johnson, Austin Aztex Forward: Ali Gerba, Montreal Impact
USSF D-2 Pro League Goal Scoring Champion: Ryan Pore (Portland Timbers)
USSF D-2 Pro League Defensive Player of the Year: Greg Janicki (Vancouver Whitecaps FC)
USSF D-2 Pro League Rookie of the Year: Max Griffin (Austin Aztex)
USSF D-2 Pro League Coach of the Year: Bob Lilley (Rochester Rhinos)