When NASL power Carolina RailHawks joined forces with the talent-producing CASL Academy, many knew it was a match made in heaven. Gone is the Chelsea blue, now in favor of RailHawk orange.
CASL has produced some of the ACC’s top players of the last few years. CASL products are fixtures on the rosters of squads like UNC, Wake Forest, Duke and NC State, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Reputed head coach (and former Furman Paladin) John Bradford is in charge of the U17/18 Academy, which may now boast its brightest team in recent memory.
The RailHawks’ U18 squad will be lead by a returning starting defender, Evan Krause (’95). The UNC commit started every match last season for the CASL U18s, a squad that finished second in the Eastern Conference. Krause will be the main man in the back, but he can slot in as a midfielder if needed.
Other notable RailHawks U18 returners include Duke commit Dakota Brinkman (’95) and Davidson commit Daniel Davis (’95), both of whom started over half of the matches CASL was involved with last year.
With the defense in good shape, the RailHawks welcome star U16 attackers in T&T youth international Dre Fortune, Wake Forest commit William Gauger (’96), and FIU commit Stephan Megaloudis (’96), who combined for 24 goals last season. The defense will be anchored by NC State commit Caleb Duvernay (’96) and goalkeeper Ryan Cretens (’96). One more name to watch with the U18s is Dominic Jensen (’97). Jensen, who committed to UNC, will be playing up two years. He showed well last season with the U16s and should be a core member of this year’s U18s.
The summer was good to the RailHawks, as they also added star ’96 usynt centerback and NC State commit Conor Donovan. Donovan was a rock for the US U17 squad over two seasons. Donovan captained the US U17s a number of times, and is making the switch from USSDA RailHawks foe North Carolina Alliance. [Donovan is accompanied in the move from NC Alliance by UNCW commit Kalvin Kromer and Brandon Millington.] Donovan and Krause will form the best center-back pair in all of USSDA play – despite the fact the two will be headed to rival schools next fall. Donovan is excellent in the air and reads the game well. He has a solid body and should be a dominant force for the RailHawks this season. He has been the target of a number of top European academies following his time with the US U17s, but – at least for now – will remain in the Triangle area with the RailHawks.
The RailHawk U16 squad, led this year by UNC head coach Carlos Somoano, will be one of the more interesting teams to follow in 2013-2014. They boast a number of top prospects including ’98 usynt defender Harry Adanuty. Adanuty played with the 2012 id2 squad and then with Leicester City FC Academy. Adanuty will be one of the leaders at the Academy, along with returning U16 member Christopher Day (’97). They will be joined by ’99 usynt star Lucas del Rosario. Del Rosario is seen as one of the top forward prospects in all of US Soccer, and will be playing up two years with the U16s. Del Rosario started for the extremely talented 2013 id2 team which faced off against a number of the top Academy teams in Spain. Another name to watch will be Colby Agu (’98).
With Del Rosario playing with the U16s, you might expect the U14 RailHawks to be lacking in top-tier talent – and you’d be wrong. Colin Daughtry (’99), Maxwell Groover (’99), Jose Morales, Jr. (’99), and Colton Pleasants (’00) are the next line of Capital Area stars. Pleasants is an intriguing attacking midfielder who might be in line for a 2014 id2 selection. He showed well at camps and is thought to be one of the top US midfielders in the 2000 pool.
Academy Star: ’96 Conor Donovan
Academy Talisman: ’95 Evan Krause
Academy Prospect: ’99 Lucas Del Rosario
Update: The original version of this post contained a number of inaccuracies, which have been corrected. We regret the errors, and thank those who contacted us with corrections.