Soccer

RailHawks exercises options on contracts of seven players

Posted December 4, 2013

Akira Fitzgerald (1) during the Carolina RailHawks FC vs. Vancouver Whitecaps FC soccer match, Sunday, February 24, 2013 at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, NC.

— The Carolina RailHawks have exercised the contract options on seven players from the squad that captured the 2013 Woosnam Cup.

RailHawks’ head coach Colin Clarke made a host of moves Wednesday in preparation of the 2014 NASL season including exercising the options of goalkeeper Akira Fitzgerald, defenders Austen King and Justin Willis, and midfielders Jake Beckford, Cesar Elizondo, Breiner Ortiz, and Nick Zimmerman.

“This is the first of many moves as we build the roster for 2014,” said Clarke. “The league continues to attract talented players and this group is a great starting point. We are hard at work continuing to sign new and returning players. We are in the later stages of negotiating those agreements.”

In his first season as the regular starter in net, Fitzgerald made 28 starts and played 2,550 minutes. King and Willis, former RailHawks U-23’s, each enter their third season with the club and will help fortify the backline in front of Fitzgerald.

Zimmerman missed all of 2013 with a micro-fracture surgery prior to the season and after a 16-goal 2012 campaign, will resume his hunt for the RailHawks all-time scoring record. Elizondo, an exciting wing player, sparked a memorable comeback in his debut when the RailHawks scored two goals in stoppage time to defeat Tampa Bay 2-1. Ortiz and Beckford will each enter their third season with the RailHawks. Ortiz missed significant time with injuries, but proved in the Fall Season he can be a game-changing midfielder. Beckford, 19, saw sparring time, but the young talented midfielder continues to impress and challenge for playing time.

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