BLAINE, Minn. (January 23, 2013) — Signalling intent for 2013 and beyond, Minnesota Stars FC has reunited the 2011 and 2012 North American Soccer League Most Valuable Players. Maltese striker Etienne Barbara (pronounced EH-tee-yen bahr-BAHR-ah) and Brazilian Pablo Campos headline six roster moves announced Wednesday as the club add to an established and successful group of team veterans who have made consecutive championship appearances, claiming the 2011 NASL title and finishing as runners-up last season.
With the new pressure to finish top of the table in the NASL’s new split-season format, Barbara, age 30, and Campos, age 29, will bring proven goal-scoring ability to Stars FC’s attack. Joining them as new additions in Minnesota are 2012 NASL Golden Gloves winning goalkeeper Daryl Sattler and midfielders Bryan Arguez (pronounced AHR-gwez) and Aaron Pitchkolan (pronounced PITCH-koe-lahn). The club also revealed that Italian forward Simone Bracalello (pronounced see-MOH-nay brah-KAH-lell-loh) has re-signed with the club.
Commenting on the new players and the direction of the team, Stars FC head coach Manny Lagos said: “We sat down after the year and talked about ways we wanted to further elevate our performance on the field to give Minnesotans a good product, and we identified players we thought could help us do that, and I’m just really excited to get the kind of players we’re announcing today. Hopefully the fans are excited to have the last two MVPs and players who have excelled together and are looking forward to playing together.”
As teammates with Carolina in 2011, Barbara and Campos led the league’s most prolific attack, combining for 35 goals as the RailHawks posted the NASL’s best regular season record and reached the playoff semifinals. With 20 goals and eight assists, Barbara was a unanimous pick as the league’s MVP, earning a move to Major League Soccer side Vancouver Whitecaps FC. Campos then signed for 2012 expansion side San Antonio Scorpions, where he led the NASL with 21 goals en route to his second regular season championship and an MVP award of his own. Now the forwards have a chance to link up again, each joining Stars FC on a three-year deal.
The opportunity to reunite with Barbara was a major selling point in his decision to sign for Minnesota, Campos said. “It is a pleasure to play with Etienne again. Our partnership worked very well on and off the field in the past, and we will give our best to make it work out again. He definitely was one of the factors that I signed with Minnesota, as you don't find partnerships like that so easily.”
Bracalello, a 27-year-old forward from Italy, will provide further options near goal after agreeing to a new two-year contract with the club. In three previous seasons in Minnesota, Bracalello tallied 20 goals, the most in Stars FC’s short history.
Tuesday’s signings weren’t all about attack, however, as Minnesota made three moves primarily intended to further bolster one of the NASL’s most consistent defenses. Pitchkolan and Arguez are primarily defensive midfielders, and Sattler brings the club a proven option between the posts to complement 2012 starter Matt VanOekel after a breakout season of his own.
Sattler, age 32, joins Stars FC on a three-year contract after claiming the 2012 Golden Gloves award with a 0.79 goals against average and 13 shutouts in 24 games with the Scorpions last season. He was the first-choice goalkeeper for FC Tampa Bay (now the Rowdies) from 2010 until an early season knee injury in 2011.
Pitchkolan, a 29-year-old midfielder and defender, joins Stars FC on a two-year contract following a successful season with NASL side San Antonio Scorpions. He has experience at several levels on the North American Soccer pyramid, having also played for MLS sides FC Dallas and the San Jose Earthquakes, as well as being a mainstay for the Rochester Rhinos, Puerto Rico Islanders and, most recently, the Scorpions.
Entering his seventh professional season, 24-year-old Arguez joins Stars FC on a two-year contract and brings high-level experience from his play in Europe and North America. He began his career with DC United in 2007 as the 11th overall selection in the MLS SuperDraft before moving to Germany for two seasons with Hertha Berlin. He has played primarily in the NASL since returning, most recently spending half of last season on loan from the Montreal Impact to FC Edmonton.
About these new player joining the team, team owner Dr. William McGuire said: "These player additions highlight our club’s dedication to putting a competitive team on the field and our commitment as local owners to making sure that fans in the Twin Cities metro area and beyond have access to the highest quality professional soccer."
Additional announcements about the team, including new matches and other player and coaching additions, are expected in the coming month.
The Minnesota Stars FC will kick-off their season in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome on April 6th against the San Antonio Scorpions. After playing five games in the Metrodome, the Stars will play the remainder of the season at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Minn. Ticket prices–which will range from $6 to $30–are unchanged from the 2011 and 2012 seasons, thus providing everyone with the opportunity to be part of the professional soccer experience and enjoy the most popular sport in the world.
Season tickets are available now by calling the Minnesota Stars FC box office at (763) 792-7355 or by visiting mnstarsfc.com. Full season ticket packages start for as low as $80 for youth age 17 and younger and $145 for adults. Half-season and five-game Metrodome packages are also available now.
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