FLORIDA PREMIER, FLORIDA KRAZE PRIMED FOR I-4 DERBY
These two clubs will clash this weekend for the I-4 Derby, marking the first of two meetings in the season. Already this year, these two clubs rank in the top four in the Florida Conference in five of the six age groups, including sitting in 1st and 2nd place in three levels. Across all age groups, the two clubs have combined for a 44-7-3 record this year.
Being at the top of the standings, a win for either club would significantly bolster their hold on the top of the table and would go a long way for postseason qualification and seeding.
“This rivalry is so exciting because for the past few years we’ve both been one and two in the conference at most of the age groups,” said Nate Bender, Florida Premier Director of Soccer. “We know every single one of these games is going to be a tight contest. We’re going to have to be at our best and we know it’s going to be a day filled with good soccer.”
This season is no different either. Last season, Florida Premier finished No. 16 among all ECNL clubs, the highest-ranking club from the Florida Conference. The club had four teams head to the ECNL Boys National Playoffs, with the U14 team advancing to the National Finals, ultimately placing third in the country.
Meanwhile, Florida Kraze ranked No. 24 in the overall club rankings, the second-highest finish of any Florida club. Just like Florida Premier, Kraze also sent four teams to the National Finals.
Both clubs have been able to carry over that success into this season, and constantly battling for the top spot in the Conference has created an environment where each side puts more into training and preparation knowing the other side is going to give them one of their toughest tests of the year.
“There’s always a bit of added intensity in these games,” said Joe Avallone, Director of Soccer for Florida Kraze. “The kids are up for every game, but the Florida Premier match has a little extra icing on the cake. You always want to win that match.”
With the two clubs being so close, both in terms of location and results, it’s been a rivalry that’s been bubbling under the surface and ready to explode into a full-fledged Derby.
“There’s always a rivalry between Orlando and Tampa,” Avallone said. “They’re a very good club. We’ve got our work cut out for us in all age groups, but we’re going to go out there and compete. We’re going to focus on what we do best, and our players are going to be ready to play. Simple as that.”
“We just need to play at our best,” Bender added. “If we go out and perform at our best at every age group, we’re going to get the victory. We always talk about how the performance will take care of the result, and our players are prepared for that. We’re going to give Kraze our best shot in every single age group and we’re going to see who comes out on top.”