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Where is Cory Elenio Now?

Elenio started the 2010 season with the Crew, but has now found his way to the Carolina Railhawks.

Former Crew midfielder Cory Elenio has now found his way to the Carolina Railhawks.

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.

First Sign of Trouble for USSF D-II League: Pro Soccer May Leave Minnesota

Several weeks ago, the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) released new higher standards for Division 2 professional soccer teams playing in a USSF-sanctioned league in 2011. The NSC Minnesota Stars, which currently play in the USSF Division 2 league, are facing a dilemma. The team, which is owned by the non-profit National Sports Center (NSC) Foundation, is unable to meet the higher financial benchmarks necessary for league membership next year.

“While we support the efforts of the USSF to upgrade the standards for pro soccer, the new standards will necessitate that we find an organization or individual willing to join us as a financial partner,” said Kris Bjerkness, Stars’ General Manager. “That’s what we need to qualify under the new higher standards.”

“When we assumed ownership of the team last January, we were very public about our desire to eventually pursue a creative public/private ownership model to bring more financial resources to team operations,” continued Bjerkness. “Now’s the time for that to happen.”

The NSC acquired this new franchise in January 2010 and has operated the team throughout the USSF Division 2 league schedule, which started in April. The NSC Stars replaced the Minnesota Thunder which had played on and off at the NSC for 20 years.

The NSC has performed several tasks at a highly successful level.  Stadium presentation, public relations, coaching staff, team selection, social media, website, and game-day operations and presentation have all been very positive. 

However, the NSC has not met its goals in brand awareness, ticket marketing and sales.

The NSC believes that there is a great opportunity for a private investor to help us build on the successes and improve on those areas where the team fell short of goals.

The Stars have posted an average attendance of 1,413 through 13 home games of the inaugural 2010 season. Two more home games remain in the 2010 season, September 15 vs. the Carolina Railhawks and September 18 against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

“The team needs to be selling between 2,500 and 3,000 tickets per game to be financially successful” stated Kris Bjerkness, General Manager of the NSC Minnesota Stars.

“The NSC had many motivations in starting the Stars pro team,” said Paul Erickson, Executive Director.  “But one of our primary reasons was to preserve the long and proud history of professional soccer in Minnesota at the highest level possible. We were happy to step in and keep pro soccer alive for this one year, but the new USSF standards mean that we can’t go forward without additional investment.”

“Ownership of a team based at the NSC is a unique opportunity,” continued Erickson. “The National Sports Center boasts one of the best soccer-specific stadiums in the country, at the largest amateur sports campus in the world.

“We are proud of what we have accomplished in the past eight months, but the reality is that we will need a new financial partner to continue pro soccer in Minnesota.”

Aztex Come from Behind to Gain Three Points

The Austin Aztex defeated the Carolina RailHawks last night in front of a 4,000 plus crowd. After trailing by one in the first twenty minutes, the Aztex eventually fought back to achieve a victory of 3-2. Fresh off their goalless defeat last weekend against Puerto Rico, Eddie Johnson, Yohance Marshall and Randi Patterson all netted one for the Aztex.

Aztex Head Coach Adrian Heath praised his team’s performance and the determination they displayed: “Not only were the goals great, but so was the reaction of the players. I really thought this was one of our best performances tonight.”

Although the Aztex dominated possession, Carolina opened the scoring in the 18th minute after Josh Gardner found Daniel Paldini inside the box.

Fifteen minutes later, Lance Watson made a critical tackle, dispossessing a RailHawk player. Watson crossed to Johnson who drove the ball low into the left corner to even the score at 1-1.

“After the loss in Puerto Rico, we knew that we couldn’t take things for granted even though we have been doing so well,” said Johnson. “We proved again tonight that we have the ability to beat everybody in this league.”

In the second half the game opened up even more with Yordany Alvarez assisting Yohance Marshall in the 66th minute.

Substitute and recent newcomer Randi Patterson put pressure on the Carolina defense within minutes of entering the field. After outrunning the defense to pick up a ball played over the top, Patterson was one-on-one with the goalkeeper his touch played right into the keeper’s arms.

However, Patterson would eventually increase the Aztex lead by two goals, marking his first-ever Aztex goal.

The RailHawks attempted their own comeback in minute 83 when Allan Russell scored after congestion inside the penalty box. Russell capitalized on a deflection after Aztex goalkeeper Miguel Gallardo failed to get a firm hand on a previous shot.

Next up, the Aztex have a tough schedule by traveling to Portland on Thursday, who currently sit in second place behind the Aztex. Austin will then take on the Vancouver Whitecaps, who are in first place in the NASL Conference, on Sunday.

However, Heath does not seem worried about the upcoming schedule with a playoff berth inevitable.

“We’re mathematically ok, but what we want to do now is win the league. We have two very big games coming up, but I feel the win tonight was very important for the belief in our players.”

Saputo Speaks Out

Following the recent performances of the team, the Montreal Impact president Joey Saputo made the following statement:

“Following the recent performances of the team, I wish to reiterate that Nick De Santis, Marc Dos Santos and the other members of the technical staff continue to have my vote of confidence and they will stay in their current functions. They have proved their skills in the last few years and we will continue to build the futureof this club with them. The players, veterans as well as newcomers, are the only people responsible for the position of the team in the standings. They have not lived up to expectations so far this season. They have to look at themselves in the mirror and ask if they could have done more. Certain players have yet to convince us that they should be part of this club in Major League Soccer in 2012; as well as in 2011, as we will focus on our MLS preparation. With seven matches to play this season, making the playoffs is still possible, but to do so the players on this team will have to react and find solutions. I cannot accept the results thus far, as the standards set by the Montreal Impact are higher than simply just making the

Richmond Draws in Final Fight

The Richmond Kickers were back in action Saturday night at UR Stadium to host the Real Maryland Monarchs in the regular season finale. The match marked the fourth meeting between the two clubs. The first three were played across two weeks to open the season; two ended in Richmond’s favor, the other in a draw—and the fourth meeting would end just the same as the clubs placed the final stamp on the series this summer in a 1-1 draw.

The third annual “FAMILY FEST” rang in with a breezy 80-degrees and fans were in great attendance. The festivities began at 4 PM and consisted of games, inflatable attractions, food, and music; Kicker fans attended the game for just $10 per family if arriving before 6 PM. Fans swarmed City Stadium and continued to show their enthusiasm for the finale well in to the start of the match.

A sluggish start began the match. Richmond’s attempt in the 38th minute almost secured a goal; however, the goal post stood in the way of a rebound shot in to the goal. Further saves by Monarch goalkeeper Brian Visser concluded the first half 0-0.  

The scoreboard saw its first change in the second half’s second minute of play when Monarch midfielder Alan Sanchez took a shot just inside the box, placing the ball in the top center of the net. With Real Maryland leading 1-0, Richmond quickened the pace of their game taking shots on goal with each possession. Visser remained on his feet saving shots from Kicker forwards.

Kickers fans released sighs after each attempt on goal. In the 65th minute, another attempt was offset when the ball bounced off the crossbar; Richmond continued in search of vengeance. In the following minutes, several shots sailed over the goal.

After taking several shots on goal, Kicker midfielder Jonathan Villanueva was successful in the 73rd minute. He was wide open and took a left-footed shot about 25-30 yards outside the goal, tying up the game 1-1.

And that’s all it took for Richmond to gain momentum and Real Maryland to tally-up yellow cards.

In the 75th minute, Kicker midfielder Neil Barlow ran down right field toward the goal as a Monarch defender came from behind with a trip. Richmond took a penalty kick of which would have given Richmond the lead; however, Monarch goalkeeper Visser prevented Richmond from doing so with a save by his right foot, sending the ball up and out of bounds.

The second-half action certainly didn’t disappoint fans, most of who by this time were no longer sitting down in City Stadium. And as if the fans weren’t already biting their nails, referees added four minutes of stoppage time to regulation.

Kickers goalkeeper Ronnie Pascale made his save of the night just moments before the end of stoppage time. His save ended the match in a 1-1 draw.

Richmond now holds a 5-1-2 series against Real Maryland. While the Monarchs seasons came to close after Saturday’s match, Richmond will move forward to the USL-2 division playoffs. In the July 31 match, Richmond guaranteed either a first or second place league finish by edging the Harrisburg Islanders 1-0.

Richmond (9-5-6) entered the Aug. 14 match against the Monarchs just three points behind USL-2 leader Charleston Battery. The Battery won their Aug. 14 match against the Charlotte Eagles 3-0, awarding themselves with an additional three points and the USL-2 regular season title. The win secured the Battery’s No.1 seed in the USL-2 Championship game which is to be played Aug. 28.

The Kickers will return to UR Stadium to host the third-place Pittsburg Riverhounds on Aug. 21. The winner of the 7 PM semifinal match will continue on to meet Charleston at the championship. Tickets for the Aug. 21 match can be purchased online via