It didn’t take long for Cory Elenio to find a new club after his unfortunate release from the Columbus Crew before the start of the 2010 MLS season. Elenio landed with the Carolina Railhawks of the USSF D-II Pro League, an opportunity that would give him more time on the pitch and a chance to get fully fit.
Elenio, a talented young midfielder, was originally selected by the Crew in the second round of the 2008 MLS Supplemental Draft. He spent two seasons with Columbus, logging 112 minutes in 3 appearances with the first team. Elenio also spent time in the Reserve Division, making 9 appearances (5 starts) and registering 3 goals and 1 assist. His time with the Crew included a MLS Cup championship and two Supporters’ Shields.
Despite limited minutes, Elenio appeared to be on the path to being a Crew regular. However, a series of offseason moves changed the makeup of the close knit Crew squad, making several players (including Elenio) suddenly expendable. Some players would have given up at any sign of adversity, but not this Ann Arbor, Michigan native.
Railhawks Head Coach Martin Rennie, known for developing young players with the Cascade Surge and Cleveland City Stars, would make a serious move to sign Elenio. “I appreciate him giving me a chance,” the University of Evansville graduate commented. “He instills a lot of confidence in players.”
It has been quite an opportunity for Elenio to get serious playing time, gain match fitness and experience, and add more versatility to his game. He has played mainly in the midfield, but due to injuries has also spent time at right back. He has appeared in a total of 19 games, adding 1 goal and 1 assist to the Railhawks attack. When asked about the quality of play in the USSF D-II League, Elenio continued. “Athletically it is the same (as MLS), but technically there is a drop off.”
He went on to say that ”every game is a challenge” and that the level of competition is good. Just like MLS there is a lot of parity among the teams.
Most players would see this as a stepping stone back to America’s top-flight, but Elenio genuinely wants to contribute and be part of the Railhawks organization. He is determined to get Carolina (currently 10-8-7) into the playoffs, where his MLS experience would certainly be an asset.
A solid end to the season could find Elenio closer to a MLS return, where his career started in the first place.