NASL Notebook: Fort Lauderdale and Jacksonville Make Coaching Decisions as League Roster Moves Continue

IMAGE, NASL.COM

by JAKE NUTTING
NASL Beat Writer

Fort Lauderdale Supporters Get the Coach They Wanted All Along

Fort Lauderdale’s front office did not need to look hard for the phone number of the man they hired to coach the team. The club tapped Günter Kronsteiner as the new man in charge after Marcelo Neveleff resigned from his position. Kronsteiner, of course, happens to be the same man who was in charge for the club’s Cinderella run to the Soccer Bowl final in 2014.

The hiring is welcome news for many supporters of the club who were saddened to see Kronsteiner leave in the offseason, particular on seemingly bad terms with the new owners. The Austrian coach criticized the incoming Brazilian group of owners heavily in a December Facebook post for making significantly low financial offers to him and many of his players.

After an underwhelming Spring with Neveleff at the helm, and with fans voicing their support for Kronsteiner in the stands and online, the Fort Lauderdale front office has mended the bridge to bring the coach back to South Florida. Kronsteiner’s assistant during his previous run with the team, Raoul Voss, is returning to the same role. Defender Ivan Guerrero, who served as interim coach in the Strikers’ Spring Finale, will also serve an assistant coach.

While Kronsteiner may only be less than a year away from having coached for this team, he’ll be facing mostly new faces when he steps into the locker room for the first time. Only eight of the 22 players on this year’s roster were on the squad in 2014. And of those eight, only three were starters in the Soccer Bowl.

Kronsteiner, though, will have a little extra time acquaint himself with all the new players. While the majority of the league will kick off the Fall Season this upcoming weekend, Fort Lauderdale’s first Fall action will be on Wednesday July 8 against the Carolina RailHawks.

 Jacksonville Armada Show Confidence in Hoyos with Lengthy Contract Extension

Jacksonville is only one third of the way through its inaugural season, but the ownership has seen enough to seriously commit to head coach Guillermo Hoyos by extending his contract through the 2019 NASL Fall Season.

The extension comes almost exactly one year after Jacksonville announced that José Luis Villarreal would serve as the club’s first head coach. In an unusual move, Hoyos was hired by Jacksonville in January to serve as co-head coach with Villarreal. Villarreal faded into the background by the time the season kicked off and it was quietly announced at the end of May that he would leave the club to pursue other opportunities in his native Argentina.

The commitment from Jacksonville’s front office seems to be an attempt to send a clear message that they are happy with the direction that Hoyos has taken the club in such a short time. A high-flying, possession oriented attack helped Jacksonville finish the Spring in sixth place and only two points out of the fourth qualifying playoff spot.

Ottawa Fury FC Add an Experienced NASL Attacker

In a move to spark the least productive offense in the league, Ottawa has acquired forward Aly Alberto Hassan on a transfer from Fort Lauderdale. Through four seasons in South Florida, Hassan made 50 appearances and netted 12 goals for the Strikers, so he certainly has some experience scoring in the NASL.

Head coach Marc Dos Santos is in desperate need of some goals in the Fall Season. A stellar defensive showing in the Spring where the team only allowed eight goals was marred by an abysmal attacking output of five goals.

The 6-foot-3 forward should be eager to get more minutes after being lost in the shuffle for the Strikers in 2015. However, he will need to wait until after July 8 to suit up for Ottawa due to the international transfer window.

San Antonio Loses One Loaned Forward, Gains Another

Last year’s Soccer Bowl champions are losing Bright Dike for the Fall Season after the forward was recalled by his parent club Toronto FC. The attacker saw limited time for the Scorpions, but he did get on the board with one goal.

To negate the loss, San Antonio has secured another loan, this time for familiar face Giuseppe Gentile. The 22-year-old was on the roster in 2014 and appeared for the Scorpions in both the semifinal and final rounds of their Soccer Bowl run.

Gentile is on loan from FC Chiasso from the Swiss second division. He signed with Chiasso in January and has made a handful of appearances for the club.

Minnesota United Parting Ways With Johnny Steele

A report from NorthernPitch.com states that one of Minnesota’s most highly touted offseason signings, midfielder Johnny Steele, will not be returning for the Fall Season. There is no word on whether the Loons have elected to release the Northern Irishman outright or if a transfer to another team is in the works, but he has not been training with the team in the lead up to the Fall.

Steele is journeyman player, but things seemed to have turned sour in Minnesota quicker than usual. He started the first four games and struggled mightily as a distributor for the attackers as the whole team stumbled in the opening month of action. By the end of the Spring Season, things had fallen off so dramatically that Steele was no longer making the 18-man gameday roster.

The disappointment of Steele exacerbates the pressing midfield issue facing coach Manny Lagos. The club recently transferred star creative midfielder Miguel Ibarra to Club Leon in Mexico and Jamie Watson is out for the season with an injury. Adding midfield help before the Fall Season kicks off seems unlikely as the season is only a few days away, but some kind of reinforcements are needed soon if the cub has any shot at matching their 2014 run. The reported six figure transfer fee for Ibarra should enable the club to pick up a quality attacking midfielder.