RailHawks sign Clarke to multi-year deal

Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network
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Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network
Peter Koutroumpis, Triangle Sports Network

CARY, N.C. – The Carolina RailHawks agreed to terms with head coach Colin Clarke on a new multi-year contract as announced by the team on Tuesday.

Originally signing with the club on Dec. 6, 2011, the World Cup veteran and former Northern Ireland international who also had a lengthy and distinguished playing career in England, will be entering his fourth season leading the RailHawks.

The contract will make Clarke the longest tenured head coach in franchise history.

As per club policy, terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“When we brought Colin aboard in late 2011, it was with the stated goal that the RailHawks win against the best of the CONCACAF region, win within NASL and entertain our fans,” Railhawks president Curt Johnson said.

“In addition, we hired Colin because of his commitment to and belief in players that are products of soccer in North Carolina and to player development in North Carolina.  The record clearly shows that he has delivered.  He is the right man to lead us to an even higher level of team performance over the years to come and to win our first NASL Championship.”

Under Clarke’s direction, the RailHawks established a 23-match home unbeaten streak that spanned three playing seasons (2012-2014), won the 2013 NASL Regular Season Championship, and had two consecutive runs (2013 and 2014) to the quarter final round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.

Of particular note, his RailHawks squads hold a 3-0 U.S. Open Cup record against four-time MLS Champion, the LA Galaxy, over the past three seasons (2012-2014).

In addition to holding a 9-2 record over teams from major markets, including Los Angeles (Galaxy and Chivas USA) and New York (Cosmos), Clarke’s teams have generated considerable success and interest to increase home attendance by 43% since he took charge.

Clarke began his managerial career in 1998 as the head coach of the Richmond Kickers when he was hired by then Kickers’ general manager Johnson.

During the 2003 MLS Season, Clarke took over as head coach of the Dallas Burn (now, FC Dallas) and turned around the club’s fortunes, leading them to a Western Conference first place finish in 2006.

Prior to joining the RailHawks, Clarke led the Puerto Rico Islanders to a Regular Season Championship in 2008, had a historic run to the semifinals of the 2008-2009 CONCACAF Champions League and defeated the RailHawks in the 2010 USSF-D2 Pro League Championship Final.

During his playing career, Clarke established himself as one of the top players from Northern Ireland representing the country 38 times, including the 1986 FIFA World Cup in Mexico where he scored a goal against Spain.

The Newry native’s professional on-field resume spanned 12 seasons in England.

“I am very happy to be coming back to the RailHawks,” Clarke said.

“I want to thank our owner Traffic Sports USA and team President Curt Johnson for the faith they showed in me and the opportunity they are giving me to continue the work we started in 2011. I am looking forward to the opportunity to further build the franchise and the brand. We’ve had a lot of success over the last three years, but our ultimate goal of winning The Championship has eluded us. I assure our great supporters that my staff and I will do everything possible to bring a championship back to the Triangle.”