Puerto Rico Islanders vs. Ft. Lauderdale Strikers NASL Semifinal Preview
The Islanders chose to host the first leg of the two-leg affair because of the commitments required by the Puerto Rican National Team.
This should give the Strikers an advantage in the return leg should they earn a result in Bayamon.
“It’s about rolling up your sleeves once you get down there. If we get a tie that’s great and if not we have the return leg at home to come back to.” said Strikers head coach Daryl Shore.
For the host team Islanders, who have not lost a game at home this season, the match marks the start of their 2nd division title defense. Last season ended with Puerto Rico defeating the Carolina RailHawks 3-1 aggregate in the home and away total goals series.
The Strikers look like they are ready to turn the page on an inconsistent season. In the opening round of the playoffs, the Strikers scored five goals in the match against FC Edmonton. The Strikers had not scored that many goals in a match all season.
“I don’t think we will change,” commented Shore. “We’ve seen (Puerto Rico) each other four times this season and we’re familiar with each other.”
The Strikers defense must try to limit the attacking prowess of David Foley and Jonathan Fana. Both players have been a constant threat for NASL teams all year.
In attack, their front line of Abe Thompson and Brian Shriver exploit the space between the Puerto Rico backline in hopes of creating scoring opportunities.
By the numbers
Each team won and drew their home matches against one another.
The first match in Bayamon saw a late equalizer scored in the 90th minute by the Islanders.
Player to watch – Christian Arrieta
The experienced Strikers defender has no love lost for his former team. At a match in Fort Lauderdale earlier this season, Arrieta nearly came to blows with few members of the Islanders squad. Expect a physical match from Arrieta as he surely does not want to lose in Puerto Rico.