The Fort Lauderdale Strikers boosted their player development efforts by today announcing the creation of Fort Lauderdale Strikers U-23, a developmental team that will compete in the National Premier Soccer League (NPSL) beginning in 2016.
“Our aim for Fort Lauderdale Strikers U-23 is to provide an avenue for local talent to develop at a high level before transitioning to the first team,” said Strikers CEO Sean Guerin. “The 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.”
The NPSL is a national league that operates in the 4th Division of the U.S. Soccer pyramid and is affiliated with the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF) and the United States Adult Soccer Association (USASA). The NPSL remains one of the largest and fastest-growing national leagues in North America with over 80 teams.
“We are very excited to have yet another NASL team involved in our league,” added NPSL Chairman Joe Barone. “The Strikers are an iconic brand that have a tremendous history within American soccer. We are pleased to see the Sunshine Conference continue to grow and know that our fans and supporters in the region will benefit greatly from this addition.”
Strikers U-23 will compete in the Sunshine Conference of the South Region, which currently includes: Jacksonville United FC, Kraze United (Orlando), Miami Fusion FC, Miami United, Storm FC and Weston FC.
“One of the greatest appeals of playing in the NPSL is the close proximity of our opponents,” said Guerin. “We are excited for the U-23s to foster local rivalries and grow the Strikers’ presence in South Florida.”
Since joining Fort Lauderdale in July, originally as general manager, recently appointed head coach Caio Zanardi is tasked with overseeing all aspects of coaching and player development, including the U-23 team. The Strikers will announce the U-23 coach later this month.
“The creation of Strikers U-23 is a big step toward our goal of developing a steady stream of talent,” said Zanardi. “It is a great opportunity for the club to instill our playing philosophy in younger players and, ultimately, groom them for the first team.”
Details regarding a home venue and match tickets will be announced at a later date.