If you haven't had a chance to do so yet, check out my preview of today's Carolina RailHawks match in today's N&O. Tonight's opponent, NSC Minnesota, is 0-1 after losing a 2-0 decision to Vancouver last week.
Here's some other thoughts going into the game:
The day the music died: I got word that the RailHawks brass has decided against having live music before games. Bad decision in my book.
Attendance (2,033) was horrible last week — not exactly what the owners would want to see as they plan to launch the North American Soccer League next year. The United States Soccer Federation has already struck down one proposal because it didn't have enough "viable teams."
But you don't improve those figures by getting rid of something that was neat and unique for the fans — particularly fans who aren't soccer purists and wouldn't mind some additional entertainment. At least give the idea some time to spread by word of mouth (hopefully bringing more interested fans through the gates) before scrapping it altogether.
Still knicked up: The RailHawks are somewhat like the walking wounded these days. Gregory Richardson and Floyd Franks could be ready to go tonight as reserves only. Both were practicing yesterday and both are coming off injuries.
Brian Plotkin has already taken some time off from soccer to get healthy. Kupono Low is out 2-3 months with torn knee ligaments.
Sallieu Bundu, Caleb Norkus and Sainey Touray are still out of commission. Bundu and Touray each have hamstring injuries (Touray tore his).
Orange is in: Although I was a huge fan of the all-blue kits, the RailHawks should be back in orange tonight. Good. It is the team's official color, after all.
Minnesota should be wearing their blue kits. Good. You need sunglasses to watch them in their canary yellow and white kits they wore last week.
Similar starting lineup: If the guys wearing orange in yesterday's practice was any indication, we should see a similar starting lineup tonight.
Etienne Barbara, Daniel Paladini, Mark Schulte, Matt Bobo, Amir Lowery and Josh Gardner were six of the 10 I saw in the field. I did not see Joseph Kabwe in orange.
As for that 11th person -- the goalkeeper -- no idea. We'll find out tonight, but wouldn't it be fitting for Nic Platter to get that start against Minnesota (he played with the Minnesota Thunder last year)?