Strikers vs. Cosmos | Saturday, 7:30 p.m.

First place at stake for Fort Lauderdale Strikers against New York Cosmos

 
 
FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2013, file photo, Fort Lauderdale Strikers' Walter Restrepo, left, fights for control of the ball with New York Cosmos' Hunter Gorskie, right, during an NASL soccer game in Hempstead, N.Y.
FILE - In this Aug. 3, 2013, file photo, Fort Lauderdale Strikers' Walter Restrepo, left, fights for control of the ball with New York Cosmos' Hunter Gorskie, right, during an NASL soccer game in Hempstead, N.Y.
Frank Franklin II / AP

mkaufman@MiamiHerald.com

Thirty years have passed since the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and New York Cosmos last played at Lockhart Stadium, and the modern versions of the two NASL clubs hope to rekindle some of that storied rivalry Saturday night at 7:30.

Most of the buzz has been about the history of the series, but for the players, it is the battle for first place in the league standings that makes this game special. The Strikers are on a five-game unbeaten streak, are 3-2-2 and tied with Tampa Bay and Carolina for second place with 11 points, just behind the first-place Cosmos (3-3-1, 12 points).

“There’s a lot of excitement about our game against the Cosmos,” Strikers coach Günter Kronsteiner said. “Not only because of the historical significance of the match, but the implications in the [standings]. The Cosmos are a really strong team, the leaders right now. We need to continue to be strong on defense and try to find a way to get some goals and come out with a win.”

The Strikers have been led by Mexican goalkeeper Richard Sanchez, who is on loan from Major League Soccer’s FC Dallas. Cuban defector Yakiel Perez recently joined the team and scored his first goal last week. New York features midfielder Marcos Senna, a Brazilian who spent 11 years with Villrreal in Spain and played for the Spanish national team.

Former Striker and Miami Fusion coach Ray Hudson, now a commentator for BeIN Sport TV, calls the matches against the old Cosmos and Pele “the zenith point” of his career.

“It was a spectacle when those two clubs plays, it eclipsed everything,” he said. “To be a part of that drama is something I will never forget.”

Tickets are available at the gate, and include a Family 4 Pack for $54 (four tickets, hotdogs, popcorns and sodas).

Volleyball

The FIU volleyball team kicked off action at the Active Ankle Challenge with a 3-1 (25-22, 25-17, 23-25, 25-16) victory over Northern Kentucky on Friday afternoon in West Lafayette, Ind. With the win, FIU improves to 6-4, and NKU falls to 4-6. With team-leading marks of 15 kills and 14 digs, redshirt junior Ksenia Sukhareva registered her fourth double-double of the season against the Norse.

Senior Kimberly Smith posted 12 kills and added a team-high eight blocks.

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