Michelle Kaufman

Michelle Kaufman: Fort Lauderdale Strikers sign Haiti national team midfielder Jean Alexandre

Pablo Campos, right, the first player in the modern NASL era to score 50 career goals was signed last week by Miami FC.
Pablo Campos, right, the first player in the modern NASL era to score 50 career goals was signed last week by Miami FC.

The South Florida Haitian community has one more reason to pay attention to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers this season. Haiti national team midfielder Jean Alexandre signed with the team last week, and he brings plenty of experience to the roster.

Alexandre, 29, has more than two dozen caps with the national team and played in three CONCACAF Gold Cups. He was captain of the team for the 2013 Gold Cup. It is also a homecoming for Alexandre, who was born in Haiti but moved to Palm Beach County when he was 9 years old.

His father, a trash collector, had come to the United States two years prior, and the rest of the family followed. Alexandre attended Atlantic Community High School in Delray Beach and Lynn University in Boca Raton, where he led Division II in scoring.

He was selected in the first round (12th pick overall) of the 2009 Major League Soccer draft by Real Salt Lake. Although he didn’t play Division I in college, Real Salt Lake management was familiar with him. The club’s coach, Jeff Cassar, and then-general manager Garth Lagerway, both played goalkeeper for the Miami Fusion.

At the time, Lagerway said: “We took a chance taking a kid from a smaller school, but Jeff Cassar and I both have numerous contacts in South Florida from our Miami Fusion days that we contacted about Jean, so we felt very comfortable taking a chance with him at that pick.”

He went on to win the 2009 MLS Cup with RSL and played in the finals of the CONCACAF Champions League in 2011. He was traded to San Jose the next season and then went to Orlando City.

“The addition of Alexandre gives us a number of options in midfield,” said Strikers coach and general manager Caio Zanardi. “He is a strong player; comfortable shielding the defense or playing higher up the field, with great experience in the U.S. and at the international level. We expect him to make a big contribution to our team, are excited to have another player with local ties and international pedigree on our roster.”

The Strikers open their 2016 season April 2 at home against new club, Miami FC.

▪ Miami FC signs Brazilian Campos: Miami FC also had a notable signing last week, Brazilian forward Pablo Campos. The 33-year-old played in MLS with the San Jose Earthquakes and Real Salt Lake, where he was a teammate of Alexandre’s. He spent the past five years in the NASL, including stints with the Carolina RailHawks, San Antonio Scorpions and Minnesota United.

He played three years for Minnesota and had 20 goals and six assists in 56 games. He is the first player in the modern NASL era to reach 50 career goals.

“Campos brings in a lot of successful NASL experience and has continuously proven his commitment to the teams and cities that he’s played for,” Miami FC coach Alessandro Nesta said. “He’s a great addition to our team and to the city of Miami.”

Said Campos: “It’s an honor to continue my career with the NASL. The teams I’ve been lucky enough to play for have contributed a lot to my growth as a player, and I’m excited to see where this new chapter with Miami FC will lead me next.”

▪ UM keeper in Colombian camp: University of Miami sophomore goalkeeper Catalina Perez is in Colombia training with the national team for the 2016 Rio Olympics. Perez played for Colombia in the Women’s World Cup last summer. She is one of two goalkeepers in camp.

Perez attended St. Andrew’s High in Boca Raton. She led the Hurricanes this past season with 10 appearances, including eight starts. She ranked third in the ACC in saves per match (4.60) and posted a 106-minute clean sheet in Miami’s double-overtime victory over No. 14 Notre Dame on Oct. 2.

▪ Copa America draw Monday: The draw for the Centennial Copa America will be held Sunday in New York City (7:30 p.m., Univision). Argentine Grammy winner Diego Torres and Puerto Rican Reggaeton star Yandel will be part of the show. Among the soccer dignitaries participating: Former Argentine star Mario Kempes; legendary Colombian/Miami Fusion playmaker Carlos Valderrama; former Mexican goalkeeper Jorge Campos; and Fox Sports analyst Alexi Lalas.

The 16-team tournament, being held in the United States for the first time (June 3-26), features all 10 South American teams, plus the United States, Mexico, Jamaica, Haiti, Costa Rica and Panama. Among the stars expected to play: Lionel Messi, Neymar, James Rodriguez, Chicharito, David Luiz, Kaka, Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey.

The closest venue to South Florida is Orlando, with matches June 4, 6 and 8. Brazil will play there on June 8.

Coming up: The Colombian and Honduran Under-23 men’s national teams are playing a friendly Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. at Lockhart Stadium. Honduras already qualified for the Olympics, and Colombia is preparing for Olympic qualifying matches against Team USA on March 25 and 29. Honduras has played in the past three Olympics. Colombia hasn’t made the cut since 1992. For tickets, call 888-612-4190 or go to compreboletos.com

The U.S. Women’s World Cup champion team will play Germany at Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton on March 9 in a doubleheader that also features France vs. England. The matches are part of a new four-team tournament called the SheBelieves Cup. Tickets are on sale through ussoccer.com, by phone at 800-745-3000 and at Ticketmaster locations.

Who’s leading

EPL: Leicester City (53), Arsenal and Tottenham (51), Manchester City (47), Manchester United (41).

La Liga: Barcelona (63), Atletico Madrid (54), Real Madrid (53), Villarreal (48), Sevilla (40).

Serie A: Juventus (58), Napoli (56), Fiorentina (49), Inter Milan (48), Roma (47).

Bundesliga: Bayern Munich (59), Dortmund (48), Hertha Berlin (36), Bayer Leverkusen and Monchengladbach (35).

Ligue 1: PSG (73), Monaco (49), Nice (41), ASSE (40), Lyon and Nantes (39).

On the tube

Sunday-Malaga vs. Real Madrid (10 a.m., BeINSport USA); Tottenham vs. Crystal Palace (10 a.m., Fox Sports); Roma vs. Palermo (2:45 p.m., BeINSport USA); Copa America draw (7:30 p.m., Univision).

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