Strikers To Participate In Florida Cup
The Fort Lauderdale Strikers today announced the club’s participation in the 2016 Florida Cup, set for January in Orlando, Fla. and South Florida. Strikers General Manager Caio Zanardi made the announcement.
Fort Lauderdale will begin play in the nine-team event when they face FC Schalke 04 of the German Bundesliga on January 10 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando. One week later, the Strikers will meet Independiente Santa Fe, commonly known as Sante Fe, from Colombia’s Categoíra Primera A league at FAU Stadium on the campus of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton.
Clubs from five nations will compete for the 2016 Florida Cup:
• Brazil (Campeonato Brasileiro Série A) –
• Atlético Mineiro; Corinthians; Fluminense; Internacional
• Colombia (Categoíra Primera A league) – Independiente Santa Fe
• Germany (Bundesliga) – Bayer 04 Leverkusen; FC Schalke 04
• Ukraine (Ukrainian Premier League) – FC Shakhtar Donetsk
• United States (North American Soccer League) – Fort Lauderdale Strikers
Lockhart Stadium will be the host site for two matches: Schalke – Atlético Mineiro on January 13 and Fluminese – Internacional on January 20. Ticket information will be announced next month.
Given the club’s participation in the tournament, the 2016 roster will be assembled prior to the end of the year. Training will commence in early January. Following the Florida Cup, the Strikers will continue training and play friendlies against other international sides before a full slate of preseason matches in advance of the 2016 North American Soccer League Spring Season.
“We are excited to play against the world’s best teams,” said Zanardi. “Our participation forces a positive change in that we will be competing nearly year-round. Not only will the games be exciting and challenging tests, they will pay off for the rest of the year in that it will make us stronger for league play.”
The Florida Cup, in its second year, is expected to be broadcast via television to more than 125 nations. The tournament will be played as the Strikers, Brazilian and Colombian sides prepare for their 2016 seasons. The German teams and Shakhtar will be on mid-season break from their respective leagues.
Fort Lauderdale’s first opponent, Schalke, is one of the largest clubs in Germany. Founded in 1904, the club currently occupies third place in the Bundesliga in André Breitenreiter’s first season as head coach. Captained by German national team defender Benedikt Höwedes and led by star forward Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Schalke finished the 2014-15 season in sixth place, earning a place in the 2015-15 UEFA Europa League.
Santa Fe, founded in 1941, currently sits fourth in the table in Colombia’s top flight. They are coached by Uraguyan Gerardo Cono Pelusso Boyrie, who was born in Florida. Sante Fe has claimed eight league titles, most recently in 2014.