It’s been a long four months since the 2013 NASL season came to a close and soccer fans in South Florida are eager to see the Fort Lauderdale Strikers to return to the pitch on Saturday nights at historic Lockhart Stadium.
With the 2014 season just 40 days away, the team got right down to business. After undergoing medicals and fitness tests over the weekend, preseason training officially kicked off this morning at Lockhart.
Head Coach Günter Kronsteiner and Assistant Coach Raoul Voss put the team through their paces. Returning players, new signings and trialists were split into groups for a series of passing drills followed by small-sided two-touch passing games. The session concluded with an 11 vs. 11 scrimmage under the watchful eye of coach Kronsteiner.
We caught up with several returning players to get their thoughts on the upcoming season:
Back from a holiday in Brazil, Rafael Alves is ready to get started with a full preseason under coach Kronsteiner. “I think now that the coach is able to spend more time with the team, the team can get off to a better start; we understand what we need to do,” said Rafael. “We still need a few pieces, but I think we can have a good season.”
Stefan Antonijevic, Alves’ defensive partner, didn’t get to spend his time on the beaches in Brazil, instead he faced the snowy winter back home in Chicago, and is glad to be back in sunny Fort Lauderdale surrounded by familiar faces. “I’m very thankful the Strikers gave me the opportunity to re-sign,” said Stefan. “It’s nice to see that we have a lot of the core group back, not just in the team, but in the front office and coaching staff.
“We’re all on the same page and know what we want to accomplish. We’re coming off a good season, but it could be better. We just want to improve. I’m also very excited I don’t have to shovel snow,” he added
Another player glad to be back in Fort Lauderdale is Carlos Salazar. The Colombian midfielder bounced around from club to club in places like Iran and Panama before finally finding the right fit with the Strikers in 2013. “I’m very happy that the team has the confidence in me and has given me an opportunity to be here again,” said Carlos. “I feel at home.”
Back for a third year with the Strikers, Darnell King was raring to go. “It’s always good when you have a core set of players back, everybody’s already on the same page,” said Darnell. “We’re coming in a little bit late, so it’s going to be a little bit harder for us to start clicking, so we have to start playing together quickly. I’m excited about the season.”
The 2014 Spring season kicks off on April 12th against Ottawa Fury FC at Lockhart Stadium. Strikers season tickets for the 2014 campaign are on sale by calling 954-606-0400 or at www.strikers.com
For the latest information during preseason, stay tuned to Strikers.com. Remember to like us on Facebook.com/FTLStrikers and follow us on Twitter and Instagram @FTLStrikers