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Carolina RailHawks vs. New York Cosmos: Preview and lineups

Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports

The Cosmos will take the pitch at 7:30 pm tonight in what could turn out to be one of the defining matches of their season. They'll be facing the Carolina RailHawks, one of the NASL's better sides this season with major playoff implications. At the moment, the Cosmos sit eight points ahead of Carolina in the combined NASL table, and the RailHawks currently sit in fourth place overall, which will likely be good enough for a spot in the NASL playoffs.

Th Cosmos could certainly make their quest to get in to the four-team postseason almost complete with a victory tonight, but three points could potentially be huge as far as hosting a playoff contest is concerned as well. The fall season leading Scorpions are taking on Minnesota United this evening, and should United take points off of San Antonio, the Cosmos could move within striking distance of the second spot in the combined table. Should United end up winning both the spring and fall titles, something that is very possible as things stand, the second spot in the combined table would be good enough for a home playoff tie. That would be huge for New York.

That's enough looking around the league though, here's how the Cosmos will be lining up tonight to face Carolina:

So no Szetela, Senna, Roversio, Ayoze, or Flores in the lineup, but goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer has returned. The starting lineup will feature three MLS players on loan, and how Hunter Gorskie and Connor Lade are deployed will be fascinating to watch.

Meanwhile, the RailHawks will be lining up as follows:

Hopefully the boys in green can pull off a big win despite being without some regulars, as three points tonight would all but end any worries the club had about missing out on the playoffs. The game can be seen on NASL Live.