A little over a week after letting go of head coach Gunter Kronsteiner, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers have found his replacement.
Caio Zanardi, who is also the team’s general manager, has been appointed the newest head coach of the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.
“Caio’s experience on the sidelines is decades long, spans three continents and includes stints with some of the world’s top teams, players and coaches,” said Strikers CEO Sean Guerin. “We have made the postseason four of the last five years, yet a championship has eluded us. We believe Caio is perfectly suited to lead us to a title and implement the systems that will make the Strikers a sustained winner.”
When Zanardi joined the Strikers back in July, he was just the general manager, but now he will also have the heavy task of guiding the team in the ultimate goal, a NASL Championship.
Zanardi was integral in guiding the Strikers to the NASL Championship Semifinals after the chaos left at the end of the Spring Season and now him and the club have one goal in mind, The NASL Championship.
“I’ve enjoyed my time here so far, and I’m excited to implement my philosophies as head coach,” said Zanardi. “I have high expectations for this club. We are assembling a talented soccer department and our goal is to produce a winning team that represents our community and fans. I’m eager to get started.”
The Strikers are going in all hands on deck this offseason and are poised to set the highest-ever budget for its soccer operations, which means everything from players to stadium renovations will be top priority.
As part of the newfound importance for soccer operations, it was confirmed last night at the media conference in Fort Lauderdale that the club will also be putting a team together to play in the fourth division of US Soccer in the National Premier Soccer League starting in 2016.
The Strikers U23’s will join the Sunshine Conference, and will be coached by the Zanardi’s assistant coach, who many believed is rumored to be none other than former United States U20 Head Coach, Thomas Rongen.
Despite a new team on the horizon, the Strikers also confirmed last night that they will unfortunately lose its NASL MVP and Golden Boot Winner, Stefano Pinho to another team within the NASL (rumored to be Minnesota United FC) despite being offered one of the highest salaries in the history of the modern day Strikers.
However, in the face of a key loss like Pinho, the club is poised to make big splashes this offseason with key players in each position. One of these key players is goalkeeper Bruno Cardoso, who currently plays for Brazilian side Santa Cruz, who has recently been promoted to the Brazilian Serie A. The club has not yet confirmed the move.
The club will begin announcing new players and coaching staff throughout the month as they prepare for the Florida Cup in January.
These key players, according to a source, are international players with National Team experience, and rumors around Brazil is that Ronaldinho is one of the names being thrown in the hat.
Aside from big-name signings that will be announced before January, league sources have confirmed the Strikers will indeed resign PC, one of the fan-favorites last season, Manny Gonzalez, David Meves, and has a contract offer out to Haitian National James Marcelin.