For the third time in three years, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and FC Edmonton will kick off their seasons at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It will be the tenth all-time meeting between the two sides who first met in the opening match of the 2011 NASL season.
In the first-ever encounter between the sides, the newly-rebranded Strikers (the team was formerly called Miami FC) packed a (then) franchise-record 6,402 fans into Lockhart for their home opener on April 9, 2011 against FC Edmonton. The hosts were ultimately left disappointed as the Eddies bagged all three points in what was their first-ever competitive fixture, a 2-1 win.
But the win against Fort Lauderdale was the exception, rather than the rule for Edmonton. The Canadian team failed to defeat the Strikers in the following three regular season meetings between the sides, and crashed out in the first round of the 2011 playoffs after a humiliating 5-0 defeat in Fort Lauderdale. The Strikers would go all the way to an appearance in the 2011 NASL Championship Series, falling 3-1 to the champions Minnesota Stars.
Just a year later, on Opening Kick 2012, the Strikers and Edmonton started the season against each other again. Unfortunately for Edmonton, the result echoed the game that ended their maiden campaign more than the game that started it. The Strikers avenged last season’s home opener defeat with a 1-0 victory, extending their unbeaten run against the Eddies to five straight games in the process.
In that match, rookie forward Aly Hassan was sent off for the Strikers shortly before halftime. His strike partner, former Costa Rica national team forward Andy Herron—making his first appearance for the Strikers as well—scored the game’s only goal, tucking away a cross from Scott Lorenz past Michal Misiewicz in the Edmonton goal.
It took fourteen months after their win against the Strikers at the start of 2011 for FC Edmonton to taste victory a second time in this series. On June 10, 2012 in Edmonton, a solitary goal from Alberta-native Michael Cox punished the Strikers and forward Abe Thompson especially, who was guilty of missing a penalty kick.
Fort Lauderdale won their next match against Edmonton, another 1-0 affair in south Florida, and perhaps should have won their final regular season match as well. Two-nil down with just stoppage time to go, Edmonton scored twice to pull off one of the most memorable comeback draws of the season.