The Fort Lauderdale Strikers believe in living up to their nickname.
Leading the North American Soccer League's Southern Division with 98 points, the Strikers have scored 41 goals for 38 bonus points, the second-highest total in the league.
"I've been criticized for entertaining too much," said Strikers Coach David Chadwick. "But I hate to see defensive soccer. We try to make it as entertaining for the fans as possible.
"We're an attack-minded team because the league encourages you to score goals." Under the league's system for determining standings, a team can earn up to three bonus points a game on the basis of goals scored.
In contrast, the Strikers' opponent tonight at Lockhart Stadium in Fort Lauderdale is Team America, a team criticized for its lack of offense; it has scored 20 goals in 21 games this season and only five goals in its current eight-game losing streak.
"There is too much emphasis on show and nothing else in this league," said Team America Coach Alkis Panagoulias. "All we do is try to promote attack. But I don't like to see that. In Europe, games are won 1-0."
Comparing the scoring leaders on the two teams heightens the contrast. The Strikers are led by midfielders Ray Hudson (four goals, 16 assists) and Teofilo Cubillas (eight goals, six assists) and forwards Branko Segota (eight goals, five assists) and Brian Kidd (nine goals, one assist).
Team America is led by Andrew Parkinson's three goals and three assists, Alan Green (three goals) and Chico Borja (two goals, one assist). Midfielder Green, who has been bothered by injuries, is expected to play against the Strikers.
"On our offense, we use a couple of frontrunners," said Chadwick, who is in his third year of coaching. "I use Kidd and Segota with Cubillas coming in from behind. It gives Cubillas, who has great mobility, a lot of freedom. Cubillas is a deadly finisher. He doesn't often miss the target."
Cubillas was a first-team all-star in 1981 (17 goals, 10 assists) and 1980 (14 goals, 14 assists). In his first NASL season, Cubillas scored 16 goals, had 18 assists and was a second-team all-star.
"He's a constant threat," said Chadwick.
Chadwick is concerned that his players may underestimate Team America. "I've tried to instill in the players that we shouldn't take them lightly. We've played two close games against them already and some time they're going to break that losing streak," he said.
Fort Lauderdale has won five games in a row and eight of its last nine at home. The last team to beat the Strikers at home was Tulsa on June 25, 2-1, in a shootout.
Team America has split its two games against the Strikers: winning, 2-1, in a shootout June 12 and losing, 3-2, July 16.
Team America has not won a game since its 2-1 victory over Chicago on June 25.