By PEDRO HEIZER
In the 2013 Spring Championship Season, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers proved that Murphy’s Law is a reality. For a team that signed the likes of David Foley and Iván Guerrero in the offseason, the Strikers looked like a team that could not find its identity in the Spring Season.
Of course, injuries to key players such as Andy Herron, David Foley, and Mark Anderson did not help.
The Strikers hobbled to a 0-1-2 record after the first month of the season and it did not get any prettier from there. The team finished the first half of the season with a league-worst eight points and a 2-2-8 record.
The Strikers mustered two wins in the season—one versus Minnesota at home, and one in Edmonton—and after an embarrassing 4-1 loss to the San Antonio Scorpions at Lockhart Stadium on June 29, the Strikers thought it would be best to part ways with head coach Daryl Shore.
“It was imperative that the Fort Lauderdale Strikers continue with a winning tradition,” said Strikers President Tom Mulroy in a statement after the firing. “Unfortunately the team has not performed well this year under Daryl Shore.”
With the implosion of the team in the past, the Strikers now look to build momentum for a run at the Soccer Bowl this fall, with a new coach and a standout young goalkeeper among the new faces.
Here is a closer look at the 2013 Fort Lauderdale Strikers:
2013 SPRING SEASON FINISH: 2-2-8, 8 points, (last place in the NASL standings)
KEY ACQUISITIONS: Head Coach Gunther Kronsteiner, F Martin Nuñez, GK Richard Sanchez (on loan from FC Dallas), F Bradlee Baladez (on loan from FC Dallas)
KEY LOSSES: F Jemal Johnson
PLAYERS TO WATCH: MF Manny Gonzalez, F Matin Nuñez, MF Mark Anderson, F David Foley
OUTLOOK: The Strikers look to turn over a new leaf as they travel to New York to face the reincarnated New York Cosmos on Saturday for a matchup that is bound to have its share of fireworks. Soccer legend Pelé will be on hand.
For the Strikers, the team hopes that a new coach and a few new faces will help the team move past its horrid two-win season. “It’s a fresh start for everyone,” said Mark Anderson, who missed most of the Spring Season due to injury. “We will definitely have a different mindset coming into the Fall and I believe that when you start with that, the results will come.”
The Strikers cut a few players to start the Fall Season, including forward Jahbari Willis (whom they got in the trade for Andy Herron) and midfielders Rubens, Mike Dietze, and Eduardo Jimerez.
Aside from a new head coach, the Strikers have added a few players that have had MLS experience in goalkeeper Richard Sanchez and forward Bradlee Baladez. Both are on loan to the Strikers from FC Dallas of Major League Soccer.
With Cody Laurendi, who suffered an injury in the Spring Season, out for the rest of 2013, and starter Matt Glaeser not having a solid Spring Season, it is the perfect opportunity for a youngster like Sanchez to make his mark on a Strikers defense that really needs help.
“We are thrilled to receive such a talented goalkeeper for the Fall Season,” said Kronsteiner. “Richard will help solidify our defense.”
Sanchez helped Mexico win the 2011 FIFA U-17 World Cup, defeating Uruguay, 2-0, in front of 105,000 at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Sanchez logged 360 minutes with the FC Dallas Reserves in 2012. He finished the season with a 2-1-1 record and a 1.50 goals against average.
Also back with the Strikers is fan favorite Martin Nunez, who previously played for the club in the 2011 NASL season in which he scored five goals and had three assists.
In 2012, Nunez was traded by Fort Lauderdale to the Minnesota Stars FC (now Minnesota United FC). He played 25 games and scored five goals.
With a new coach and a handful of new players, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers will look for a new attitude as they try and make a complete 180 degree turn and play for a shot at the Soccer Bowl. “Teams should be scared when the Strikers come to town,” said head coach Gunther Kronsteiner. “We want that to be the case this upcoming season.”