Soccer News: Fort Lauderdale Strikers Midfielder Pecka Named NASL Player Of The Week After Scoring Game-Winner On Saturday
After scoring the goal that gave the Fort Lauderdale Strikers their most important victory of the year, midfielder Pecka was named North American Soccer League (NASL) Player of the Week, the league announced Monday.
The Brazilian’s tally gave the Strikers a 1-0 win over FC Edmonton, and helped the club maintain its two-point lead in the race for the final spot in The Championship, the league’s four-team postseason tournament.
“I feel good about receiving the award,” said Pecka, who has played in 59 regular season games with the Strikers since 2011. “I worked hard, our team played well, and I was able to score to help the team. To be named Player of the Week is great and important for me and for the team. We’re in a good place in our season, and right now we’re concentrating on qualifying for The Championship.”
Saturday night’s match between the Strikers and FC Edmonton looked destined for a scoreless draw until the home side pounced on a mistake by the Eddies’ defense in the 83rd minute. Forward Fafà Picault got in the way of an attempted clearance by the Eddies’ defense, and in the midst of trying to clear the danger, visiting goalkeeper John Smits kicked the ball right to Pecka. The Brazilian made the most of the opportunity, lifting the ball over a helpless Smits and into the net from 25 yards away to send the home fans into a frenzy.
The victory, which also extended the Strikers’ unbeaten streak to six games, gave Fort Lauderdale a two-point lead over the Carolina RailHawks in the 2014 NASL Combined Standings (Spring and Fall). With one game remaining in the Fall Season, the Strikers could clinch the fourth and final postseason berth with a win over Ottawa Fury FC at Lockhart Stadium on Saturday night.
“I’m very happy for Pecka. This award is more than deserved,” said Strikers head coach Günter Kronsteiner. “Pecka has been playing great all year, and he always gives 100%. He is definitely one of the best players in the league.”
Pecka, whose full name is Wellington Paeckhart, started his youth career in the academy of one of Brazil’s most storied clubs, Flamengo. Without making a first team appearance for the club, Pecka was loaned to Centro de Futebol Zico Sociedade Esportiva. In 2006, Pecka was selected to represent the Brazilian Under-18 National Team at the Sendai Cup International Youth Tournament in Japan.