RailHawks to host first-place Cosmos with Raul

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

CARY, N.C. The Carolina RailHawks kick off against the North American Soccer League’s (NASL) first-place New York Cosmos at WakeMed Soccer Park on Saturday.

The RailHawks (1W-3D-2L, 6 pts.) are winless in their last five games, having suffered a 1-0 loss on the road against the San Antonio Scorpions last week, while the Cosmos (4W-2D-0L, 14 pts.) are coming off of a 4-2 victory over FC Edmonton.

To add to the intrigue of the matchup, former Real Madrid and Spanish National Team star, Raúl Gonzalez is expected to play for the Cosmos, making his first-ever appearance in the area.

Raul, who is the most capped player in Real Madrid’s history, making 741 appearances in his 16-year stint in Madrid, will seek to use his experience and skills to earn the Cosmos a win.

“This match will be both challenging and entertaining,” RailHawks head coach Colin Clarke said.

“Facing a player such as Raúl can only add value to the league and to the game. It will definitely be exciting to come out and try to beat the Cosmos once again.”

The RailHawks own a 4-0-1 overall record against the Cosmos, who have yet to win a game at WakeMed since restarting play in the NASL.

The last match these two sides played in North Carolina finished in a thrilling 5-4 RailHawks win, with all nine goals being scored in the second half.

Notes: Carolina’s Nacho Novo and Raúl will compete against one another the first time this season and in the two players’ careers. Novo has scored three goals in four games, while González has scored two goals in six games… González scored 71 goals in the UEFA Champions League and is currently the third-highest goal scorer in the history of the competition. He was only recently surpassed by current Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona…The RailHawks Blake Wagner has earned NASL Team of the Week Honors twice this season. He has started all six games for the RailHawks this season and has scored two goals… Carolina signed Capital Area RailHawks Academy defender D.J. Mason to an amateur contract on Friday. The Morrisville, N.C. native is a product of the Capital Area RailHawks U-18 Academy Team and plays as a right back. Last February, Mason played for the U-18 US Men’s National Team in the 2015 Copa Chivas Tournament in Guadalajara, Mexico, starting and playing in one game in which he recorded 70 minutes.