The Fort Lauderdale Strikers travel to Stanford, Calif. to face Major League Soccer's San Jose Earthquakes in the third round of the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Tuesday, May 29th at 10:30p.m. EDT. The winner advances to the tournament's fourth round to face the winner of the game between the Minnesota Stars and Real Salt Lake on the same day.
While these Strikers have never faced the Earthquakes, both teams were members of the original North American Soccer League and played against one another each season from 1977 to 1983 with the Strikers holding a 10-2 record in the matches. All six U.S. NASL teams are still alive in the tournament looking to advance to the round of 16.
“It's a special tournament,” said Strikers head coach Daryl Shore. "The Open Cup is the oldest tournament in the country and it's a great chance to see where our guys measure up against MLS teams."
Fort Lauderdale is 6-5 in Open Cup matches to date, having advanced past their first opponent in their last four tournament appearances. The Strikers have participated in six Open Cups in franchise history. Their best finish was making it to the round of 16 twice, once in 2008 and again in 2010. In 2010, the team was led by Paulo Araujo Jr. who was tied for the tournament lead with five goals.
San Jose holds a 10-8 all time record in the Open Cup, has participated on eight occasions (1997, 1998, 2000-05), and has reached the quarterfinals seven times. The team reached the semifinals for the first time in 2004, but fell 1-0 to the Kansas City Wizards on the road.
The original Fort Lauderdale Strikers played in the NASL from 1977-1983 and the San Jose Earthquakes were members from 1974-1984.
The shared history between the Strikers and Earthquakes is perhaps most tied to all-time soccer great George Best. Best played in 26 games for the Strikers from 1978-1979, but is most remembered in the NASL for a goal scored against the Strikers while playing for the San Jose Earthquakes in 1981. Best played for the Earthquakes from 1980-1981 scoring 28 goals in 56 games.
“We’re excited. Any time you get a chance to play an MLS team it’s exciting,” said Shore. “We know it’s not going to be an easy game, but we are going there to win the game.”
The Strikers are coming off a 1-1 draw against the Atlanta Silverbacks in NASL play on Saturday, while the Earthquakes fell 2-1 on the road against Sporting KC on Sunday. The Earthquakes remain without their leading goal-scorer Chris Wondolowski who is with the USMNT.
The match will take place at Cagan Stadium on the Stanford University campus in Stanford, Calif. The fourth round of the tournament is scheduled to take place on Tuesday, June 5th and should the Strikers advance they will travel to the home of either the Minnesota Stars or Real Salt Lake.
The Strikers next home game is Saturday, June 2nd against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Tickets for Strikers home games are available by calling (954) 606-0400 or by going to Strikers.com. Follow the Strikers on facebook and twitter @FTLStrikers. All Strikers NASL games are broadcast online at Strikers.com/live