The British are Coming

It was windy and overcast on the practice field this past Wednesday, as the Carolina RailHawks ran through drills. The weather, it seemed, was preparing for the Londoners too.

The RailHawks will host a first-ever international exhibition this summer, a highly-anticipated meet against Barclay’s Premier League team West Ham United of England, at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary.

The final block of tickets for the event will go on sale this coming Monday, May 23.

“This is an opportunity for us to one, test ourselves against the best, and two, shine the spotlight on our whole soccer community,” said RailHawks President Curt Johnson.

“We’ve had the goal to bring a Premiere League team to the Triangle since 2011. This is recognition of the work of a lot of people within the world of soccer, over decades, and thanks to the resources of our team owner, (Cary businessman) Steve Malik.

“The West Ham roster is a who’s who of world-class players,” Johnson added. “We’ll test our best practices against their best practices, and hopefully we’ll all learn something.”

Come Early, and Tailgate

Felicity Barnard, West Ham United’s commercial director, was in Cary to check out the RailHawks facilities leading up to the July 12 match.

“I’m highly impressed,” Barnard said. “This is a fantastic facility, and very well-kept. (The exhibition) will expand our fan base by offering fans a live experience from the U.S., and it’s a great opportunity for the RailHawks to expand on the rich sports history here.”

Barnard also noted that West Ham United embarking on an international tour meant finding a team capable of competing at its level. The RailHawks, currently in hot pursuit of the spring season NASL championship title, are that team, she said.

The West Ham team will expand its own facilities next year, with a move into the 54,000-seat stadium built for the 2012 Olympics in London.

Johnson said he expects a sell-out crowd for the weeknight game, and encourages fans to arrive early, and tailgate.

“Soccer is a global sport,” he said, “and July 12 will be a true celebration of soccer.”

International Soccer Exhibition

Carolina RailHawks vs. West Ham United

Tuesday, July 12 at 8 p.m.

WakeMed Soccer Park, 101 Soccer Park Drive, Cary

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