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NASL News and Notes: Strikers Add Two Attackers

2011 April 15
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by Gerry Wittmann

Everything went well for the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in their season opener last Saturday, except for the fact that they were outscored by FC Edmonton.  To rectify the situation, the Strikers have added Jean Philippe Peguero and midfielder Yoximar Granados. In other NASL news, FC Edmonton adds to their Dutch braintrust, while FC Tampa Bay looks to take on the EPL and and an Islander begins blogging.

Peguero, 29 is a Haitian international who began his career in Haiti with club Don Bosco, where he won the league’s Golden Boot award and was awarded league MVP.  Peguero moved to the Colorado Rapids in 2004, and joined the NY Red Bulls in 2006, scoring 22 MLS goals in 60 matches. Peguero transferred to Danish club Brøndby IF and scored twice in his first three games for the Copenhagen-based club before injuring his right knee, rupturing both the ACL and MCL. Peguero has had limited playing time since then, playing a handful of games for the San Jose Earthquakes in 2009 and making a substitute appearance for the Haitian National Team in 2009.

Yoximar Granados is a Colombian who trialed with the Chicago Fire earlier this year and spent time with Argentine side Quilmes. Granados, who just turned 19, was listed as a right back in a Chicago Fire preseason preview of trialists and described as “speedy,” but also can play wide or as a withdrawn forward according to the Strikers’ news release.

“Yoximar is a very dynamic right wing player with great speed and skill who will add quality to our attack. Peguero is a player that can add leadership qualities to our team and will hopefully be another player who’s going to score goals for us,” said Strikers Head Coach Daryl Shore.

Meanwhile, the prognosis looks good for Strikers’ veteran forward Abe Thompson, who missed the opener due to injury. He is listed as “questionable” for the Week 2 match with NSC Minnesota, but team doctor Pieter Hommen expects Thompson back “in the near future.”

FC Edmonton

The Edmonton club, who surprised almost everyone on opening day with their quality of play, are adding to Coach Harry Sinkgraven’s staff. Team owner Tom Fath has stated to the Edmonton Sun that Dutch coach Edwin Petersen will be joining the team as an assistant on April 22.

“He (Petersen) has very high credentials,” said Fath of Petersen. “He has a similar background to the other coaches we’ve hired. We’re very happy to have him join our coaching staff.”  Petersen has been involved with the Netherlands National Team, coaching the U-15 squad, and will coach Edmonton’s youth academy team in addition to his role as assistant.  Petersen will return to his duties in the Netherlands after FC Edmonton’s season ends.

FC Tampa Bay

FC Tampa Bay is currently in negotiations with EPL club Everton to host the Liverpool side for a friendly match this summer, according to Eduardo A. Encina of the St. Petersburg Times/ TampaBay.com website. Everton are already contracted to visit the U.S. this summer, having already scheduled a match with MLS side DC United.  Several other American teams are negotiating with Everton to host a friendly.

Everton, with USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard as one of its leaders, is a top team in the EPL and has been in the English upper flight for 108 seasons. They are a charter member of the Premier League, which was formed as England’s top division in 1992.

Puerto Rico Islanders

Young Steven Beattie was a rookie who I was looking forward to see play for the Puerto Rico Islanders this season. Beattie was named NCAA Division II Player of the Year the last two seasons, and scored 77 goals during his tenure at the University of Northern Kentucky, which also included a Division II National Championship.

Unfortunately for the Irish rookie, three days after signing his contract with the Islanders and 20 minutes into his preseason debut with the club, he suffered a serious knee injury that included a torn ACL and sprained MCL. Beattie has started a blog here since being injured to keep his spirits up and interact with other athletes who have been sidetracked by serious injury.  I’m sure all NASL fans are looking forward to his full recovery and seeing him in an Islander’s uniform.

9 Responses
  1. Dave permalink
    April 15, 2011

    I am not sure Everton would want to play in a place like Al Lang Field. It’s a baseball stadium that seats only 7,000. Way to small for an EPL team. And Raymond James is way too costly. There doesn’t seem to be a fit.

    While it’s become expected for Euro teams to come play MLS teams in the summer, friendly matches really don’t make sense for D2 or D3. Are they financially worth it if you don’t have a stadium you control to fill? It is likely a waste of money and more of an ego thing. NASL teams can’t afford to waste money.

  2. John permalink
    April 15, 2011

    No mention of attendance in Ft. Lauderdale. Only a success if it makes money at this level. Hopefully, they do better than the 300 fans they drew in the past. Only success I see in FL is Orlando. No chance that Everton is going to play in St. Pete. Smoke and mirrors just to get some media attention.

  3. Paul permalink
    April 15, 2011

    Good one John. Orlando has done game and you crown them the kings. Good for you! I believe there is a chance that Tampa could land a game against Everton, but it would probably be more of a reserve side. I also believe Howard is with the national team for the Gold Cup during the time period that was talked about. Keep in mind that both Bolton and Portsmouth played against D-2 teams last year (well, Edmonton wasn’t D-2 yet, but they are now.)

  4. April 15, 2011

    I don’t see why Everton couldn’t play FCTB at Raymond James. If they can work out a deal with the Bucs/Glazer where they get some of the parking/concessions/ticket revenue, it could be a great event for them.

    Oh and John, Fort Lauderdale drew 6,402 fans last week, easily a franchise record for the team formally known as Miami FC, and even better than the original Strikers opener in 1977. Miami FC only came close to that kind of gate figure once, for their very first game with Romario and Zinho. Tampa drew over 4,000 fans for their opener, and did well last year. Now that we have teams in these two markets that respect and honor the local soccer tradition, rather than dump on it like the Fusion/Mutiny/Miami FC did, we are looking at a much brighter future. Who knows where this takes us. The PNW trio of Seattle/Portland/Vancouver all rode the NASL legacy to great fan support in D2, and that paved the way for MLS.

    I hope Orlando does well too. Someday having a 3 team Florida Derby in the same division would be a lot of fun.

  5. Tony in Florida permalink
    April 15, 2011

    Tampa is a distant third in Florida in long term potential. Dying city, not much in the way of new business moving in and less tourist friendly than Orlando or Fort Lauderdale/West Palm Beach. Convention numbers, new business start ups, business relocations and airport and airline traffic tell us this.

    I see Orlando moving to MLS and Ft Lauderdale now that it is being done right being a strong D2 market like Rochester used to be. Tampa Bay? I hope i’m wrong but I don’t like where the Rowdies are headed long term. May not be their fault entirely. The market is limited for long term growth.

  6. April 16, 2011

    4,442 at Lockhart tonight for the Strikers-Stars game. Another great, energetic crowd. This town is behind this team in a way neither Miami or Fort Lauderdale was for MFC, heck even for the Fusion. People in the stands other than the supporters are into the game, they are wearing team colors, the city and local paper is on board with the team. It feels legit.

    @ Tony I think Tampa is going to be okay. If they can continue to pull solid D2 numbers, build their own stadium like they want to, and secure the rights to the proper “Rowdies” name, Tampa has a great future. The passion is there, I’ve seen it in person at all 5 Miami FC-FCTB games last year, and I see no reason why it won’t continue. One day the proper South Florida-Tampa Bay rivalry(Strikers-Rowdies) needs to be reborn in MLS.

    I’m all for Orlando too, just not at the expense of either of the true homes of soccer in this state.

  7. Tony in Florida permalink
    April 16, 2011

    4,442 in Fort Lauderdale on a Friday night less than a week after the opener is impressive.

    @F19 I hope so, as Tampa Bay is actually the closest club to me although I strongly prefer USL to NASL and don’t like Traffic Sports. The smartest thing Traffic ever did is put Robbie in charge of the Strikers. I fully expect their numbers to continue to be impressive although the problem for you is Traffic is still responsible for players, and the team is not very good much like Miami FC. The good idea was leaving Miami. Palm Beach and Broward counties are much stronger for any sport quite honestly.

    But my concerns about Tampa Bay are numerous. A market that’s not really as strong as many think particularly Ralph’s Mob and the NASL PR director, a Floridian who constantly talks up Tampa Bay as a “tier one” market seem think. Add that to an ownership that has no experience running a pro team, and you have trouble ahead.

    People can attack Donner all they want but he’s run pro teams before and the failures often weren’t his fault. He’s never had a combination as potentially potent as a pro soccer team in one of the top tourist destinations in the world which also boasts more British ex-pats than anywhere in the country outside LA. Phil Rawlins has the juice to bring top British teams for friendlies as he has already shown with Newcastle. In Fort Lauderdale, Traffic is a problem but Tim Robbie as BQ pointed out in the pod is a rock star, one of the best around. Honestly, Miami FC fudged their numbers last year. From watching the first two internet streams I believe the Strikers have realistically already put more fans in the seats at Lockhart than Miami FC did all year last season.

    I think Florida eventually gets MLS back and it is in Orlando. I believe whatever incarnation of D2 we are on can support a Fort Lauderdale/Palm Beaches team. Keep in mind USL was very close to a Fort Lauderdale team this year and if NASL goes down as it very well could after this season, Fort Lauderdale will get another team in USL Pro.

  8. Jim permalink
    April 17, 2011

    Tony in Florida, what exactly is bad about NASL/Traffic Sports and why do you prefer USL? Just curious…thanks.

  9. Strikers Return permalink
    April 17, 2011

    @Tony – You can’t be serious about USL putting a team anywhere near Ft. Lauderdale. The fact that they scrapped the idea was one of the stronger decisions made running up to this season. There’s no real reason to comment on a possible USL franchise in Fort Lauderdale ever again. If they were ever really stupid enough to try it, it would be obvious once and for all that their top management is either all severely brain-damaged, or they are just not interested in running their league and making smart decisions for their teams, they’re still just trying to p!ss in the wind at the NASL.

    The international division is a farce of epic proportions. You could see that mess coming a mile away, and it’s already starting to unfold. USL is running the same operation it’s been running for over a decade, letting in organizations and teams that are in way over their heads, but they don’t care. They seemingly find new ones each year to replace the ones that fade away at a 75% clip. The NASL is two weeks old. Two weeks. Let’s hold off with judging them compared to the USL until we’ve got at least a season in the books. I’ll tell you this though, of the teams that begain the 2011 season in the NASL and USL, I’d bet dollars to donuts the USL will have more missing from their 2012 opening day roster than the NASL does, and yes that includes Montreal which is “promoting” to MLS.

    I alwasy love it when people who are not actually fans of Traffic’s team bash away at them. What did Traffic do to you Tony? The only people with a bone to pick with Traffic were the hapless core of fans down here in South Florida who agonized through 5 years of Miami FC. The team, the marketing, the attendance, everything all around was putrid. But in the last two months, that’s all changed. The Strikers rebrand has made Traffic look like a brand new company. They have spent a lot of money promoting this team all over the area, not to mention ensuring they had a league to play in. They’ve gone out and acquired a lot of veteran players. They’ve done all the right things and made all the right moves leading up to opening night, and you know what? They were rewarded. 6,402. Better than the inaugural game of the original Strikers who captured the hearts and minds of this area like no other pro sports team except the Dolphins.

    And speaking of that, a perfect segway into why that small core of Miami FC fans has been joined be a much larger group in feeling that the team is now on the right path to success – Tim Robbie. The man gets it. He knows South Florida, and its fans. He knows how it needs to work. The man was standing behind a table, under a tent, an hour before game time on Friday, helping his staff hand out free Strikers t-shirts to season ticket holders. He stops and shakes the hands of everyone who approaches him. He is making the Strikers a part of this community again, just like they once were. And the fans are eating it up. If you liked the opening day numbers, just wait til May 14th. Not only is the game being billed as a part of the city of Fort Lauderdale’s centennial anniversary, it fittingly marks the return of one of THE BEST pro soccer rivalries of all time in North America – Rowdies vs. Strikers.

    Orlando? You guys posted a nice number on opening night. You’ll have to excuse non-Orlando supporters if they are slightly skeptical after that announced number for the Union preseason friendly which was preposterously over stated. But let’s say for a second that there was a legit 6,800 – 7,300 fans on hand. That’s an awesome number for D3. Hell that’s be a decent number for the New England Revolution LOL. But just like the USL/NASL comparison, let’s give it some time to see where it falls in the big picture. Personally I guessed OCSC would have a hard time cracking a 2,000 average this year. Opening night is a great start at torching my estimate. But let’s wait and see how things play out over time. And MLS talk? That’s not just horse before the cart talk, that’s I only own a donkey and a radio flyer level jibba jabba. Have an awesome season, and refute all the doubters by averaging what would be a solid D2 number. Then take your ball and join the NASL, leaving Donner and his USL cronies behind. THEN repeat on the field and in the stands. AND THEN start talking about MLS possibilities.

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