Miami FC announced today its commitment to officially pay homage to the richest legacy in South Florida soccer, the storied Ft. Lauderdale Strikers.
The Strikers competed in the North American Soccer League (NASL) from 1977 to 1983, the American Professional Soccer League (APSL) from 1988 to 1994 and the United Systems of Independent Soccer Leagues Pro Division (USISL Pro) from 1995 to 1997. After repeated requests from media, former players and fans including a survey conducted by Miami FC's commercial department which showed overwhelming support for the Strikers' name, the club will incorporate the Strikers' name and ethos starting in 2011.
"It's almost like we've come full circle. We are a member of the new NASL and currently play at legendary Lockhart Stadium where so many greats of the game have competed in the past, both with and against the Strikers. We want to honor that tradition and build upon it in the most respectful manner possible," said Miami FC President Aaron Davidson.
The Ft. Lauderdale Strikers had the best regular season record in the North American Soccer League (NASL) in 1977 and reached the Soccer Bowl final in 1980. Between 1978 when Lockhart Stadium was expanded and 1982, the club averaged over 12,000 fans per game each season. Among the great players who starred for the team were Teofillo "Nene" Cubillas, George Best, Gordon Banks, Ray Hudson, Gerd Mueller and Ellias Figueroa.
The Strikers were revived in 1988 competing in the American Professional Soccer League (APSL). The Strikers reached the championship final in 1988 and won the title in 1989, managed by Thomas Rongen, a former Striker player, and the current coach of the US U-20 National Team. Local Margate product Eric Eichmann played in the 1990 World Cup for the United States while an active member of the Strikers. The Strikers continued to play in the APSL and subsequently the USISL until the Miami Fusion joined MLS in 1998.
Throughout the Strikers' existence their greatest rival was the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Both in the NASL and APSL, the Strikers-Rowdies matchups would conjure up unparalleled passion amongst their supporters. With the return of the FC Tampa Bay Rowdies in 2010, the time is even more fitting for the return of the Strikers.
"The new NASL seeks to honor the legacy of the original NASL respectfully and meaningfully. We've noted how the Vancouver Whitecaps, Portland Timbers, Seattle Sounders and Tampa Bay Rowdies' legacies have been embraced by local supporters. Here in South Florida we are responding to the sentiments of our fans to do the same," concluded Aaron Davidson who is also CEO of the NASL.
Miami FC will work closely with former Strikers' players, coaches, fans (Striker Likers) and the South Florida soccer community in general to ensure that the legacy is honored, protected and extended appropriately.