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Brazil's Cruzeiro routs Strikers

The SportsXchange

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- After his team absorbed a lopsided loss against Brazilian club side Cruzeiro, Fort Lauderdale Strikers coach Daryl Shore was asked who made the biggest impressions.

After naming several Cruzeiro players, Shore finally stopped and said: "Their whole team."

That's the way it went for the Strikers, who were dominated 4-0 Sunday night in a professional men's soccer exhibition at Lockhart Stadium.

Cruzeiro, a first-division team in Brazil, entered the match as heavy favorites and played that way. After all, it is one of only five teams in Brazilian soccer history that has never been relegated from the top division.

The Strikers, meanwhile, are part of the North American Soccer League, a second-division domestic league that ranks behind Major League Soccer.

"I've seen a lot of exhibition games in the MLS and in my time here," Shore said, "and (Cruzeiro) is one of the best teams I've seen.

"They are in second place in Brazil, so we knew they were good. But we didn't expect them to play their regulars for 80 minutes. They gave us a good lesson of what it's like to be at the top level. We have guys on our team who think they can play at a high level -- they got a rude awakening tonight."

The attendance was announced at 5,724, and Cruzeiro fans -- audibly and by a visual count -- far outnumbered Strikers backers.

"We came to the U.S. to get away from the day-to-day training in Brazil and also to play in front of Brazilian fans who live here in this region," Cruzeiro coach Marcelo Oliveira said in Portuguese. "Our fans got here to the stadium early and started singing the Cruzeiro anthem.

"During the game, they supported us, screaming, singing and pushing us. That gives us an idea of the grand support we have and the tradition we have of our jersey and of our championships."

Cruzeiro outshot the Strikers 9-5 in the first half, posting a 3-0 lead on the scoreboard. Cruzeiro had an 8-0 advantage on second-half shots, tacking on the final goal.

Fabio, who played the first 80 minutes and made three saves, and Rafael (no saves in 10 minutes) combined on the shutout.

Cruzeiro scored its first goal in the 24th minute. Luan took a pass from Mayke and buried a header past Strikers goalie Matt Glaeser, who was caught flat-footed.

In the 35th minute, Bruno Rodrigo added his own header, making an unmarked run, taking a corner kick from Souza and scoring to the near post.

Cruzeiro's Anselmo Ramon scored in a different fashion in the 39th minute. He took a pass from Everton Ribeiro, dribbled his way into the box and booted the ball from right to left, past Glaeser.

"They are constantly moving," Shore said when asked why it's so difficult to stop Cruzeiro's offense. "They are good with the ball, and they are hard and physical. (Strikers forward) Aly Hassan is in the hospital with a broken nose (after a collision with a Cruzeiro player). They are a well put-together team."

The Strikers switched to backup goalie Lionel Brown to start the second half, and he allowed only a goal by Vinicius Araujo in the 77th minute.

"I thought Lionel was good," Shore said. "The kid will hate me for saying this, but he makes peanuts, and he works his (butt) off. He deserves a look.

"(Glaeser) has had a tough year. He will be the first one to tell you that. But I thought Matt was all right tonight. There was nothing you could do on any of their goals."

NOTES: This was the second time in less than a month that the Strikers played up in class. On May 28, the Strikers lost to MLS team FC Dallas 2-0 in Fort Lauderdale. ... The Cruzeiro club was established in 1921 under the name Palestra Italia. But in 1942, the Brazilian government ruled that no institution could have a name that was derived from nations that were its enemies during World War II. So the name was changed to Cruzeiro Esporte Clube, and the colors were altered from green and red to white and blue. ... Cruzeiro boasts eight million supporters. In 1997, more than 132,000 fans attended the final game of the Mineiro Championships in Brazil. ... Up next for the Strikers is a home game Saturday against NASL rival San Antonio. ... Up next for Cruzeiro is a game Friday in Chicago against Monarcas Morelia from Mexico.
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