The Fort Lauderdale Strikers announced on Tuesday that former head coach Günter Kronsteiner will be returning to take the helm of the team for the 2015 Fall Season. Kronsteiner’s two assistant coaches will be German, Raoul Voss who served in the same role previously and interim player-coach Iván Guerrero who remains on the roster as an active player.
Kronsteiner led Fort Lauderdale for a the final 14 games of the 2013 NASL season and the entirety of 2014. The latter campaign saw the cash-strapped (according to Kronsteiner) Strikers finish as the combined 4th seed and upset Minnesota United FC in the NASL semi-final. They eventually lost a well contested Soccer Bowl to the San Antonio Scorpions.
Mere weeks after the Championship games, Fort Lauderdale’s new ownership controversially announced that Kronsteiner would not return for 2015 and a new coach would be sought. In a letter to fans, originally posted on Facebook, Kronsteiner explained that the new ownership had made an employment offer that cut his pay and would have seem him become the lowest paid coach in the NASL. After the coach’s exit, most of the Strikers’ Soccer Bowl starters made their way to other NASL teams with the Tampa Bay Rowdies picking up the lion’s share.
For 2015 the Strikers appointed Marcelo Neveleff the head coach. Neveleff was a fixture in the South Florida youth soccer system having been the technical director of Weston FC, one of the largest youth clubs in the state. Neveleff coached the team for 9 games picking up only 2 wins and 35 day scoreless draught. Fort Lauderdale supporters showed their dissatisfaction by chanting “We want Günter” during the penultimate spring game, a 1-2 loss to Indy Eleven. Neveleff resigned shortly after the game with defender Iván Guerrero named interim player-coach for the final game (a 2-3 win vs. Minnesota United).
Given his previously contentious history with the Strikers’ ownership, it’s surprising to see Kronsteiner return to Fort Lauderdale. The specifics factors in his decision to return aren’t yet known. It might be that the Strikers felt their hand was forced in order to ensure the teams’ stability for the Fall. The team recently saw the exit of Brazilian marquee player Leo Moura and 3 other squad players. A few of the 2014 squad still remain and perhaps the hope is that the return of their former coach might revitalize the old guard and bring positive results. Kronsteiner’s previous record and pedigree certainly suggest he is as good a candidate as anyone to turn the team’s 2015 record around.
Fort Lauderdale soccer podcast, The Tailgate Show, have announced that Kronsteiner will appear on their July 2nd episode.
— The Tailgate Show (@TheTailgateShow) July 1, 2015
It’s likely to be well worth the listen.