Etienne Barbara will be staying in North America after signing a three-year deal with Minnesota Stars FC in the NASL – the North American Soccer League.
Barbara had joined Canadian side Vancouver Whitecaps who played in the Major League Soccer last year but an injury left him out of the game for several weeks and then found it difficult to break into the team. He was eventually released by the club in November.
With Barbara and Brazilian Pablo Campos, Minnesota Stars FC – winners of the 2011 NASL title and runners-up last season – have reunited the 2011 and 2012 North American Soccer League Most Valuable Players when both played for Carolina RailHawks.
As teammates 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.
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, Minnesota.
The 2013 North American Soccer League season will mark the 24th uninterrupted season of high-level soccer in the Twin Cities. Minnesota Stars FC (formerly NSC Minnesota Stars) were founded in 2010 after the Minnesota Thunder went out of business after 20 seasons of competition. Stars FC, led by head coach Manny Lagos, has made the playoffs in each of its first three seasons. In 2011 and 2012, they reached the playoff championship series, winning the league title against the Fort Lauderdale Strikers in 2011 and falling on penalty kicks to the Tampa Bay Rowdies in 2012.
The North American Soccer League is a professional soccer league established in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. The NASL member teams are: Atlanta Silverbacks, Carolina RailHawks, FC Edmonton, Fort Lauderdale Strikers, New York Cosmos, Minnesota Stars FC, Puerto Rico Islanders, San Antonio Scorpions FC and the 2012 champion Tampa Bay Rowdies.