The Strikers are joining the Cosmos and other NASL clubs with reserve teams in the NPSL for the 2016 season. The club announced the long-anticipated development on Wednesday and the team will be called the Fort Lauderdale Strikers U-23.
In the press release announcing Strikers U-23 on the club’s website, Strikers’ CEO Sean Guerin is quoted as stating the team’s goal "is to provide an avenue for local talent to develop at a high level before transitioning to the first team." Mr. Guerin went on to explain that "[t]he NPSL is an established league with a strong national footprint and a growing presence in Florida. We believe the league aligns perfectly with our player development goals." With the addition of the Strikers, the NPSL’s Sunshine Conference will have 7 teams in the State of Florida – 8, if the Rowdies decide to enter a team in the league as is widely expected.
In fact, Mr. Guerin emphasized the importance of having opponents nearby when describing the appeal of NPSL. He feels the short distance will "foster local rivalries and grow the Strikers’ presence in South Florida."
Newly appointed senior team head coach Caio Zanardi will also shepherd the U-23 team as part of his coaching and player development duties. Mr. Zanardi reiterated that "[t]he creation of Strikers U-23 is a big step toward our goal of developing a steady stream of talent….It is a great opportunity for the club to instill our playing philosophy in younger players and, ultimately, groom them for the first team."
This is welcomed news for fans of the club. Seeing the club dedicate resources to player development is a welcomed sign of growth and stability that bodes well for the future.
You can follow developments with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers U-23 at @StrikersU23. The club will announce the U-23 coach and home venue at a later date.