As things tend to be in the North American Soccer League, the identity of the new RailHawks coach is a poorly-kept secret.
What's not poor? The hire itself.
Colin Clarke's name gets tossed around when Major League Soccer teams are looking for new head coaches. Considering the previous coach left for a Major League Soccer opening, it's hard to imagine a better replacement.
(Note: former Clarke players on Carolina's roster: Jonny Steele, Chris Nurse, John Krause)
It's an important offseason for the RailHawks. They need a new coach and figure to lose several players to MLS.
It's also important given the moves being made by other league rivals, and former league rivals...
1) The NSC Minnesota Stars -- which like Clarke's Puerto Rico team in 2010 went from being the last team into the postseason to being the league champion -- recently announced they will return 18 players from last year's team. That's a really high number for any division 2 team, and even harder when considering the Stars figure to have one of the lowest payrolls in the NASL.
2) The Montreal Impact, a former NASL team now playing in the MLS, all but assured that there will be no Etienne Barbara in Carolina next year -- as if that needed any assurance. A report came out today that that Montreal owns the rights to Barbara, as well as former RailHawk Brad Rusin.
Wait, Montreal owns their rights?
How did that happen? When did that happen? I don't know, but it means Montreal will have the first right of refusal should either try to play in the MLS.
And it puts a rubber stamp on the last time we've seen Barbara in a RailHawks jersey.
3) Puerto Rico may not have a coach, but the second-best team over the past two years (OK, maybe you can argue they've actually done better than Carolina) returns their top striker.
Jonathan Faña is a fan favorite who scored 12 goals last year, third-most in the league.
5) Little news out of Edmonton, Tampa Bay, Fort Lauderdale or new expansion franchise San Antonio, but I'm sure that'll change soon. Especially since the NASL has already been sanctioned in what was -- for once -- a seemngly smooth process.