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Cary Clarets
Full name Cary Clarets
Nickname(s) Clarets
Founded 2002 (as Raleigh CASL Elite)
Dissolved 2009
Stadium Middle Creek Park
(Capacity: ????)
Owner United States Damon Nahas
Head Coach United States Dewan Bader
League USL Premier Development League
2009 3rd, Mid Atlantic
Playoff National Semifinals
Home colors
Away colors
Original Raleigh CASL Elite logo

Cary Clarets was an American soccer team based in Cary, North Carolina, United States. Founded in 2002, the team played in the USL Premier Development League (PDL), the fourth tier of the American Soccer Pyramid, until 2009, after which the franchise folded and the team left the league.

The team played its home games at Middle Creek Park, where they have played since 2009. The team's colors wers claret and white.



Raleigh CASL Elite entered the PDL for the first time in 2002, and was run by the Raleigh-based Capital Area Soccer League (CASL). They finished their first competitive campaign second in the Mid-Atlantic Division behind Williamsburg Legacy with an 11-7-0 record, and into the playoffs at the first attempt. They overcame Northeast Division champions Vermont Voltage 1-0 in the Conference Semifinals before falling to Cape Cod Crusaders in the Eastern Conference final, but it was still a promising debut for the new franchise. Raleigh even enjoyed a brief foray into the US Open Cup thanks to their positive early season form, unexpectedly knocking out D3 Pro League side Carolina Dynamo 5-2 in the first round before losing 3-0 to A-League stalwarts Richmond Kickers in the second.

Elite finished third in the Mid Atlantic Division in 2003, with an 8-8-2 record, 17 points behind divisional champions Richmond Kickers Future. The team began the season strongly, enjoying 3-0 victory over West Virginia Chaos on the road and a 1-0 win at home over Chesapeake Dragons in their opening two fixtures of the year; later, in mid-June, Elite rattled off three straight wins over West Virginia, Williamsburg Legacy and Greenville Lions which kept them in the hunt for the playoffs. Their early season form took them to the US Open Cup for the second straight year, where they beat USASA amateur side D.S. United 4-1 in the first round, but lost 2-1 to Carolina Dynamo in the second. Unfortunately, as the season wound down, Elite ran out of steam, slumping to three defeats in their final three games, and despite taking a 1-0 win over Greenville on the final day of the season, found themselves just out of the playoffs. Chris Norbet was Elite's top scorer, with 7 goals for the season, while John Izzo contributed 3 assists.

Elite suffered a dip in form in 2004, slipping slightly down the PDL Mid Atlantic Division table, and would eventually finish in fourth place behind divisional champs Carolina Dynamo with a 7-9-2 record. The season actually started quite promisingly, with two wins and a tie in their first four regular season games, including a 2-1 come-from-behind win against Williamsburg Legacy which saw Michael Harrington score a 90th-minute winner from the penalty spot. However, following their 6-1 hammering at the hands of Chesapeake Dragons, Elite's defense became uncharacteristically leaky; they were beaten 5-0 by Richmond Kickers Future less than a week later, were comprehensively beaten 3-0 by Charlotte Eagles in mid-June, conceded seven goals in a one-sided game against Carolina Dynamo, were hammered 4-0 on the road by West Virginia Chaos on Independence Day, and were outplayed again by Carolina on the final day of the regular season, suffering a 5-1 loss. The limited highlights for Raleigh included the Michael Harrington in the 4-1 win over Chesapeake in late May and the Stephen Bickford hat-trick in the 4-0 win over West Virginia in early June; beyond this, improvement was clearly required.

2006 Raleigh Elite logo

Improvement happened in 2005, as Elite enjoyed a much more productive and successful season, losing just four games all season. Raleigh were high-scoring entertainers throughout the year; they began their campaign with a comprehensive 4-1 thrashing of Carolina Dynamo, and followed this up with four more wins in their next seven games, including a 4-1 win on the road over the Bradenton Academics, and a 3-1 victory over Ajax Orlando Prospects in which Aaron King scored a hat trick. They were involved in a crazy game against Richmond Kickers Future, which saw Richmond take a 2-0 lead, Raleigh come back to lead 3-2 with two minutes left to play, Richmond tie it up at 3-3 in the 88th, Raleigh have John Queeley sent off in the 90th minute but take a 4-3 lead in the 3rd minute of injury time, only for Richmond to score another equalizer in the NINTH minute of injury time to end the game 4-4. The big controversy of the season, however, was the aftermath of the cancellation of Raleigh's game against Augusta FireBall (which was never rescheduled), and the abandonment of Raleigh's final game of the season against Cocoa Expos due to lightning with the game tied at 1-1. Had either of those games ended in a Raleigh victory they would have leapfrogged Carolina into second place, and into the playoffs for the first time. Unfortunately, they finished in third place in the Mid Atlantic Division, just one single point behind Carolina Dynamo in second, and agonizingly out of the playoffs once more. Aaron King was Raleigh's top scorer, with 10 goals, while Spencer Wadsworth contributed an impressive 8 assists.

Prior to the beginning of the 2006 season the CASL organization severed its ties, and the team was taken over by the Morrisville, North Carolina-based Next Level Academy, and re-named Raleigh Elite.

Despite their new ownership and new promise, and despite moving south to the PDL South Atlantic Division, the new Elite took a step backwards in 2006, reverting to the disappointing form which saw them win just four games all season. Things didn't start too badly for the Elite - a loss, a tie and a win over Cocoa Expos in their first three games - but fell apart quickly. Raleigh suffered a terrible run of form in June, losing six out of eight games (including a 5-1 thrashing at the hands of Carolina Dynamo and a see-saw 4-3 defeat to Atlanta Silverbacks U23's), although they did manage a scintillating fight-back against Nashville Metros when, 3-0 down after 20 minutes, Raleigh came back to tie 3-3, with a hat trick from Willy Guadarrama, his third goal coming in injury time. Raleigh went unbeaten through the month of July, tying three times and enjoying a comfortable 2-0 win over the Northern Virginia Royals on the last day of the season, but it was all too little too late for the Elite; they finished the year fourth in the South Atlantic, a full 27 points behind divisional champs Carolina Dynamo. Willy Guadarrama was Raleigh's top scorer, with 9 goals; Guadarrama and Michael Harrington contributed 4 assists each.

Cary RailHawks U23's logo

In March 2007, the Next Level Academy formed a partnership with the then new USL First Division team the Carolina RailHawks, who subsequently became the team's parent professional club, and the team was re-named Cary RailHawks U23s.

Again, despite their new ownership and new sense of professional collaboration, thing remained much of a muchness for the RailHawks, who endured yet another disappointing season which promised much but delivered little. The RailHawks didn't notch their first win until the fourth game of the season, 1-0 over perennial strugglers Palm Beach Pumas. The win initiated a promising 6-game unbeaten streak which stretched through the month of June, and included a hugely impressive 4-0 win over Atlanta Silverbacks U23's and a thumping 6-0 demolition of the Cocoa Expos that featured a pair of braces from Sean Sassano and Zack Schilawski. Unfortunately, their run was ended by a 3-0 defeat away at Carolina Dynamo, which led to a somewhat feeble end to the season; the RailHawks won just one more game the rest of the year, 2-1 over Central Florida Kraze, and staggered over the finish line fifth in the Southeast Division, 10 points off the playoff race. Schilawski and Sassano were the RailHawks' top scorers, with 4 and 5 goals each, while Joe Germanese contributed 4 assists.

The RailHawks made a real push for the playoffs in 2008. Despite a stuttering start that featured just one win in their first five games, their season was bounced into life by their exciting 3-2 win over Atlanta Silverbacks U23's, in which Congolese striker Ronnie Bouemboue scored twice and set up Cary's 87th minute winner. From then on, Cary were inspired: they won seven of their final eight games of the regular season, seemingly scoring at will. They beat Carolina Dynamo 4-2, Nashville Metros 3-1, overturned Atlanta for a second time 4-1 in mid-July, and hammered poor Nashville 6-1 on the final day of the season, with Zack Schilawski scoring twice. Unfortunately, the poor start to the season proved to be their downfall, as they eventually ended the year third in the Southeast Division, just five points behind second place Bradenton Academics and agonizingly, tantalizingly out of the playoffs for the sixth straight season. Brian Shriver and Ronnie Bouemboue were Cary's top scorers, with 6 and 5 goals respectively, while Corben Bone contributed 4 assists.

In November 2008, Next Level Academy announced a partnership with Burnley Football Club, then of the English Championship, in order to jointly develop professional footballers; as part of the agreement, the team was renamed the Cary Clarets.[1]



Final squad

vs. Chicago Fire Premier, August 1, 2009[2]

No. Position Player
1 United States GK Bryan Newbold
2 Nigeria DF Olukorede Aiyegbusi
3 United States MF Vince Petrasso
4 United States MF Thomas Drake
5 United States MF Cole Grossman
7 United States MF Jayson Perez
8 United States MF Conor O'Brien
11 United States FW Zack Schilawski
12 Japan GK Akira Fitzgerald
No. Position Player
14 Republic of the Congo FW Ronnie Bouemboue
15 United States MF Cameron Brown
16 United States DF Orry Powers
17 United States DF Zachary Barnett
18 United States DF Tyler Lassiter
21 Côte d'Ivoire DF El-Hadj Cisse
22 United States MF Bryan Minogue
23 United States MF Justin Willis

Notable former players


Year Division League Regular Season Playoffs Open Cup
2002 4 USL PDL 2nd, Mid Atlantic Conference Finals 2nd Round
2003 4 USL PDL 3rd, Mid Atlantic Did not qualify 2nd Round
2004 4 USL PDL 4th, Mid Atlantic Did not qualify Did not qualify
2005 4 USL PDL 3rd, Mid Atlantic Did not qualify Did not qualify
2006 4 USL PDL 4th, South Atlantic Did not qualify Did not qualify
2007 4 USL PDL 5th, Southeast Did not qualify Did not qualify
2008 4 USL PDL 3rd, Southeast Did not qualify Did not qualify
2009 4 USL PDL 3rd, Mid Atlantic National Semifinals Did not qualify


  • USL PDL Eastern Conference Champion 2009

Head coaches

  • United States Damon Nahas (2005-2006)
  • United States Sean Nahas (2007)
  • United States Dewan Bader (2008-2009)


Average attendance

Year Attendance Notes
2005 480
2006 140
2007 222
2008 not yet available
All Time 281

External links



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