A new era for soccer in South Florida began as Fort Lauderdale Strikers kicked off their season against FC Edmonton in front of a crowd of 6,402 at Lockhart Stadium.
The Strikers were proud to show off their newly-donned red and yellow tradition with a pre-game ceremony that included a several paratroopers from the United States Army Special Forces flying into Lockhart Stadium.
Despite a strong effort in the second half and a late comeback effort, the Strikers fell by a score of 2-1 in their home opener.
“Tonight we weren’t good enough to win the game. It’s as simple as that, and that was disappointing,” stated Strikers Head Coach Daryl Shore. “The vibe was great but the reaction after the first goal wasn’t good enough. We will get better, though, and we need the [fans] support and we’re going to support them.”
The first half was full of action as both teams came out hungry for a win. Edmonton showed great control of possession in the offensive zone, collecting five shots in the first half.
The Strikers, however, were able to fend off every Edmonton attack—including a point blank shot by Shaun Saiko that required an acrobatic goal line clear by Adam West in the 38th minute. Fort Lauderdale goalkeeper Nic Platter showed off his talent with three great saves in the first half, as well. There were three yellow cards handed out between the two teams in the first half.
It did not take long for the Strikers to display offensive attack in the second half, when defender Martyn Lancaster scored a header off a cross from midfielder Eduardo Coudet in the 48th minute.
In the 67th minute, Edmonton forward Daniel Antoniuk snuck one past the Strikers defense, giving Edmonton a 2-1 advantage.
Strikers midfielder Patrick Otte set up a beautiful cross to set up midfielder Paulinho Le Petit for a header in front of the net, but was denied by Edmonton goalkeeper Rein Baart in the 77th minute,
In the 81st minute, Edmonton forward Alex Semenets had a chance to put the match away as he dribbled through the Strikers defense, but his shot struck the crossbar, missing the back of the net by inches.
Despite an aggressive effort to find the equalizer in the final minutes, the Strikers were unable to tie the game as time expired.
Photo by Rosa Cavalcanti