On Christmas Eve the Fort Lauderdale Strikers announced a series of roster moves intended to bolster its squad for the 2016 season in preparation for the team’s participation in the 2016 Florida Cup. The Strikers first game in the competition is now only two weeks away – they are scheduled to play FC Schalke 04 on January 10, 2016, and then one week later against Independiente Santa Fe.
Inclusion in the Florida Cup field is a coup for the club because of the exposure playing alongside international powers from Europe and South America will bring the club. Nonetheless, preparing a roster for competitive play two to three months before any of its NASL counterparts was always going to be a daunting task. The Fort Lauderdale Strikers and General Manager/Head Coach Caio Zanardi have accepted the challenge and are well on their way to preparing the team.
Caio Zanardi said about the roster moves - "We are excited to be bringing back these quality players for 2016,… There is always turnover from year to year, and of course we lost some players from last season, but we are at a good starting point with this group and the additions being made to the roster."
Chief amongst the signings is Victor Giro, more commonly known as "PC," who was on loan with the club in 2015 from Brazilian giants, Corinthians. In his debut season, PC was nominated for NASL Golden Ball and Young Player of the Year awards. He is joined by –
- defender Gabriel who capped for the Brazilian national team; in his club career has played for Brazil’s Sao Paulo, Fluminese, Cruzeiro, Gremio, Internacional, Spain’s Malag CF, and in the UEFA Champions League with Greece’s Panathinaikos; - Manny Gonzalez, a local product from Florida Gulf Coast University and longest-serving member of the Strikers; he’s made 45 caps for the club since making his professional debut in 2013; - Christian Blandon, a Miami native, will be returning for a second season with the club, he also made his professional debut with the Strikers; and - Jose Angulo, will return for his second year with the Strikers, he was formerly with the New England Revolution, New York Red Bulls, in addition, he also spent two years with third division side Pittsburgh Riverhounds where he earned the 2013 USL Pro MVP award, was the scoring champion, All-League First Team, and the Golden Boot winner.
These are the first of a number of roster announcements expected prior to the club’s Florida Cup debut.