Friday, October 15, 2010

History of the Ft Lauderdale Strikers Part IV NASL is gone what's next?

The original 'History of the Ft Lauderdale Strikers Part IV' NASL is gone what's next? was published on date: August 29, 2009.

Part IV: NASL is Gone, What’s Next?
By Robert Scorca - The Fort Lauderdale Strikers moved to Minnesota because there was no suitable indoor facility here. The irony was after moving, the NASL never played an indoor season. They did play in a tournament before moving to Minnesota. In no surprise the indoor Fort Lauderdale Strikers finished last.

1983 Grand Prix of Indoor Soccer (NASL)
Listed below are teams that participated,order of finish and won-lost record
1.Tampa Bay Rowdies 6-2
2.Montreal Manic 5-3
3.Tulsa Roughnecks 4-4
4. Fort Lauderdale Strikers 1-7

The league folded but all was not lost. While outdoor soccer was dying the indoor game was at its height. With the future undecided several players left. Bernd Holzenbein went to Memphis Americans, Jan Van Beveren went to Dallas Sidekicks (both of the MISL) and Brian Kidd went to England to coach Barrows. The Minnesota Strikers joined the Major Indoor Soccer League (MISL) and played in the Metropolitan Sports Center.
Players of Note: Godfrey Ingram from Golden Bay Earthquake to Minnesota in 1984, then to Las Vegas.

Americans (MISL): Thompson Usiyan from Tulsa Roughnecks (NASL) to Minnesota 1984-87, then to Los Angeles Lazers. Jan Goossens from Golden Bay Earthquakes (NASL) to Minnesota 1984-86 then to Kansas City Comets (MISL). Hector Marinaro comes from Cleveland Force (MISL) to Minnesota 1986-88, than to Los Angeles Lazers. He records his first goal and point while with the Strikers. His career total of 1,222 goals and 1,923 points would be records for indoor soccer.

Tino Letteri leaves Minnesota at end of 1986-87 season and plays for the Hamilton Steelers of the Canadian Soccer League (CSL).

W L Finish
1984-85 Minnesota Strikers 24 24 4th Eastern Division
1985-86 Minnesota Strikers 26 22 2nd Eastern Division
1986-87 Minnesota Strikers 26 26 4th Eastern Division
1987-88 Minnesota Strikers 31 25 1st Eastern Division

Even though the indoor Minnesota Strikers 107-97 record was much better than the indoor Fort Lauderdale Strikers 4-26 record the title was not to be. The 1985-86 team came within a game of winning the MISL Championship Series losing the 7th game to the San Diego Sockers. The loss is especially painful as Minnesota had a three game to one edge but was unable to close out the series. San Diego's Coach Ron Newman and playoff scoring leader Branko Segota (both former members of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers) hoist the trophy for consecutive years. It looks like the Strikers would never become champions.

As the Minnesota Strikers were folding the name did not die. South of Minnesota the Fort Lauderdale Strikers name resurfaced in the newly formed American Soccer League (ASL) in 1988. Many players from the former Strikers appear on this team. Thomas Rongen is to be the first player signed and later goes on to coach the team. Teofilo "Nene" Cubillas comes out of retirement in 1987 to help resurrect his home club Alianza Lima. A tragic plane crash claims the lives of their players and coaching staff. Teofilo plays for and helps recruit players to join Alianza Lima. In 1988 he rejoins the Strikers. The next year he plays for the Miami Sharks of the ASL then retires.Other returning players include Ray Hudson, Arnie Mausser, Dan Canter, and Steve Kinsey. Ray Hudson an original Striker (who also played all the years of the Minnesota Strikers) returns home. He would play until this version of the Strikers fold then go on to retire.

The second year the ASL champ would play the Western Soccer Alliance (ASL) in a National Championship. This would be the crowning achievement for the Strikers as they won their 1st (and only) championship. After a 0-4 start the Strikers came on strong to finish 12-8. In the ASL Championship series they split with the Boston Bolts winning 1-0 then losing 2-0. In the mini game they defeat the Bolts 1-0 to win the ASL Championship. Next they play the champions of the Western Soccer Alliance (WSA), the San Diego Nomads. The Strikers win 3-1 to capture the National Championship. The next year both leagues would merge as the American Professional Soccer League (APSL).

The Fort Lauderdale Strikers finished 1st their first 4 years in the league. They played their home games at Lockhart Stadium. 1990 was an exception with Lockhart closed for part of the season for renovations. They split their home games between Lockhart, the Royal Palm Polo Sports Club in Boca Raton and the Pompano Municipal Stadium.

Winn Dixie was the sponsor of the team starting from their beginning. Although foreign clubs sported sponsor's names on their jerseys it looked odd to see WINN DIXIE across the front of the Strikers jerseys. Pieter Brown mentioned that this led to the " Let's go Winn Dixie, let's go! " chants. Pieter and I agree that what was once mocked now is the norm and clubs are now identified in part by their sponsors.

Players of Note: Eric Eichmann from Werder Bremen to Strikers 1988-92 to Wichita Wings of Major Soccer League (formerly MISL).

Tony Meola from Watford FC in England to Strikers in 1991. In his debut in goal Tony Meola would hold Bayern Munich to a 0-0 tie. Five members of this Bayern Munich team were starters for the 1990 German World Cup Champion Team. He played in 7 games and reappeared in 1994 with the Buffalo Blizzard of the National Professional Soccer League (NPSL).
W L Finish
1988 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 14 6 1st ASL Southern Division
1989 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 12 8 ASL Champion
1990 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 15 5 1st APSL Southern Division
1991 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 15 6 1st APSL Southern Division
1992 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 7 9 4th APSL
1993 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 9 15 6th APSL
1994 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 12 8 5th APSL

While the APSL Fort Lauderdale Strikers were playing their final season there was another Fort Lauderdale soccer club starting up in the United States Interregional Soccer Leagues (USISL). Most likely to avoid confusion they were called the Fort Lauderdale Kicks. This is ironic as the original NASL Minnesota club was the Minnesota Kicks. The original Fort Lauderdale Strikers became the Minnesota Strikers upon moving north. The next year the APSL Strikers folded so the final version was free to change its name. Once again the Fort Lauderdale Strikers name was used in the renamed United Systems of Independent Soccer Leagues, Inc. A year later they changed their name to the Florida Strikers most likely to have a broader appeal. If so, it did not work as the club folded after two more seasons. Finishing no higher than third might have been more to blame. During the 1996 and 1997 seasons the Florida Strikers were designated as an official affiliate of the MLS and Tampa Bay Mutiny. The league changed it's name in 1999 to the name we know it by today, the United Soccer Leagues.

Information for team colors, stadium and capacity, players of note supplied from the 1997 Media Guide for the USISL.

Team Colors: white, blue and black.

Stadium: Buccaneer Stadium at Barry University. Stadium capacity 1,000. Nick Megaloudis informed me that attendance was usually between 200-250.

As this was a developmental team, the people of most importance were the ones involved with the team at the management level. Eddie Rodger was the owner of the Fort Lauderdale Kicks. Eddie's influence on the South Florida soccer scene is still very apparent. Eddie is the Owner/CEO of Kics International. Many soccer clubs have utilized his soccer facilities at the Sunrise Holiday Inn. Among these are many national teams, top level foreign clubs, and MLS clubs. Later years Nick Megaloudis (General Manager) and Tom Mulroy (Operations Manager) were active. Tom is the president of and founder of the Copa Latina. Nick who assists Tom was an assistant Coach of the Miami Fusion.

Players of Note: Jeff Cunningham who currently plays for FC Dallas. Also Alen Kozic who played for the Miami Fusion in their inaugural season.
W L Finish
1994 Fort Lauderdale Kicks 5 12 6th in Southeast Division
1995 Fort Lauderdale Strikers 8 12 4th Pro League Southeast Division
1996 Florida Strikers 7 7 3rd Premier League in Southern Division
1997 Florida Strikers 10 8 4th D3 Pro League in South Atlantic Division

I would like to thank the following for their help: Pieter Brown, Teofilo "Nene" Cubillas, Teofilo Cubillas jr., Eddie Rodger, Tom Mulroy and Nick Megaloudis. Also thanks to Jeffrey Duly and his web site . My collection of countless game day programs and media guides were very helpful in locating and verifying information which otherwise would be speculation.

I can not say with 100% certainty that all information is correct. Often I would come across conflicting information. In these cases I would cross reference up to 6 different sources of information to determine the most likely correct entry.

I used numerous game day programs, team media guides and league media guides as my main source of information. These were written closest to when the events occured and were most likely correct. Recalling information many years later has the greatest likelihood of being incorrect but had to be used where there was no existing information to support this article.

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