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Strikers Announce Initial Roster Moves

December 24, 2015 - North American Soccer League (NASL) - Fort Lauderdale Strikers News Release

Fort Lauderdale, Fla. - General Manager and Head Coach Caio Zanardi today announced initial roster moves as the Fort Lauderdale Strikers assemble their 2016 roster.

Defender Gabriel, midfielders PC, Manny Gonzalez, and Christian Blandon, and forward Jose Angulo will all return to Fort Lauderdale in 2016. Per team policy, terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Today's announcements are the first of several roster moves in advance of the club's participation in the 2016 Florida Cup. Fort Lauderdale kicks off the tournament January 10, 2016, against German Bundesliga side FC Schalke 04 at ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando. The Strikers will face 2015 Copa Sudamericana champions Independiente Santa Fe of Colombia one week later at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Fla.

"We are excited to be bringing back these quality players for 2016," said Zanardi. "There is always turnover from year to year, and of course we lost some players from last season, but we are at a good starting point with this group and the additions being made to the roster."

Headlining the list of returnees is PC, one of the most dynamic young players in the NASL. The 21-year-old Brazilian midfielder, whose full name is Victor Giro, joined the Strikers on loan from Brazilian powerhouse Corinthians ahead of the 2014 season. After a handful of electric performances, the Strikers secured PC's signature to a multi-year deal.

PC made a total of 28 appearances for the Strikers in his debut season, registering six goals and four assists. The defender-turned-midfielder earned league nominations for Golden Ball (MVP) and Young Player of the Year.

Gabriel, 34, joined the Strikers in July following a standout career in Brazil. As a midfielder, Gabriel made 15 appearances, scoring one goal and two assists in 2015. It is expected that Gabriel will transition to his more natural role as a right defender under Zanardi.

Capped by the Brazilian national team, Gabriel started his professional career with São Paulo, and had stints at other notable Brazilian clubs, including Fluminense, Cruzeiro, Grêmio, and Internacional. In Europe, Gabriel suited up for Spanish top-flight side Málaga CF and competed in the UEFA Champions League with Greek side Panathinaikos.

Manny Gonzalez, 25, has accumulated 45 appearances in all competitions for Fort Lauderdale since making his professional debut for the club on May 11, 2013. He made 13 appearances, 7 starts, in 2015.

Born in Bogotá, Colombia, Gonzalez moved to South Florida as a child. He attended Northeast High School in Oakland Park and played college soccer at Florida Gulf Coast University. Gonzalez is currently the longest-serving player on the Strikers' roster.

Christian Blandon, 23, returns to the Strikers for a second season. Prior to turning professional in 2015, Blandon enjoyed a standout career Creighton University. The Miami native accumulated 60 appearances in three years with the Bluejays, scoring seven goals and four assists.

Jose Angulo, 27, finished the 2015 season tied with PC as the Strikers' third-highest goalscorer with six goals. The former New England Revolution and New York Red Bulls forward made six starts in 21 appearances during his first season in Fort Lauderdale.

Angulo joined the Strikers after two seasons with USL side Pittsburgh Riverhounds. In 2013, Angulo captured four separate individual honors including: the 2013 USL Pro MVP award, the USL Pro Scoring Champion award, and USL Pro All-League First Team recognition, and the USL Pro Golden Boot with 15 goals.

The Strikers have declined offering contracts to the following players from 2015: Lionel Brown, Shawn Chin, Evans Frimpong, David Meves, Joe Nasco, Daniel Navarro, Bruno Nunes, and Karsten Smith.

Brazilian midfielder Marlon Freitas has returned to parent club Fluminense after a successful loan spell that saw the 20 year-old tally eight goals and six assists across 31 matches.

Following the expirations of their contracts, Stefano Pinho has joined Minnesota United FC while Frankie Sanfilippo has returned to the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Midfielder Walter Ramirez has also signed with the Rowdies.

Fort Lauderdale kicks off the Florida Cup on January 10, 2016, against FC Schalke 04 in Orlando, and will face Santa Fe on January 17 in Boca Raton, Fla.

Lockhart Stadium will serve as the host of two Florida Cup games. The first is January 13 when Schalke squares off against Brazilian side Atlético Mineiro. One week later, January 20, Brazilian squads Fluminense and Internacional meet. Tickets are on sale now at Strikers.com/FloridaCup.

Note: Click here for photos (Mandatory photo credits: Fort Lauderdale Strikers)

About the Fort Lauderdale Strikers

The Fort Lauderdale Strikers are part of the North American Soccer League (NASL). Fort Lauderdale has made the postseason four times in five NASL Modern Era seasons. The club's history dates back to 1977 and the original NASL. The Red & Gold play in venerable Lockhart Stadium, which was built in 1959 has hosted professional soccer for more than 35 years.

The Strikers will play in the 2016 Florida Cup, squaring off against German Bundesliga powerhouse FC Schalke 04 on January 10 in Orlando, followed by Colombian side Santa Fe on January 17 at FAU in Boca Raton. Fort Lauderdale will host two Florida Cup matches: Schalke - Atlético Mineiro on January 13, and Brazilian sides Fluminense - Internacional on January 20.

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The opinions expressed in this release are those of the organization issuing it, and do not necessarily reflect the thoughts or opinions of OurSports Central or its staff.

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