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NSC Minnesota Stars Add Two Players and a Coach

March 11, 2011 - North American Soccer League (NASL) Minnesota United FC

BLAINE, Minn. (March 11, 2011) -- The NSC Minnesota Stars announced the return Thursday of two players from the 2010 roster. Forward Brian Cvilikas and goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel have agreed to terms with the club, pending approval from the United States Soccer Federation. Assistant coach Carl Craig will also return to the club for the 2011 North American Soccer League season.

Brian Cvilikas signs for 2011 with option for 2012 Cvilikas was the Stars' second leading scorer in 2010. Cvilikas scored four goals and tallied two assists in 1,310 minutes. His 36 shots led the team. Cvilikas signed a one-year contract with an option for 2012. Per team policy, financial terms of the deal were not revealed.

"I'm excited to return to the Stars this season and build on what we achieved in our inaugural season," said the 26-year-old Highlands Ranch, Colo., native.

Stars head coach Manny Lagos said the 6-foot-3 forward will not only bring a constant threat to the Stars' front line, but also a competitive mindset that can improve the club's morale and motivation.

"Brian has qualities no one else on our team does, and he'll be a danger to our opponents whenever he's on the field," Lagos said. "He has also been dedicated to training and improving as a professional during his time in Minnesota."

Goalkeeper Matt Van Oekel re-signs Van Oekel served as a backup goalkeeper for the Stars in 2010, appearing in six games and making 19 saves over the course of 474 minutes. The Chesapeake, Va., native has spent his entire professional career in the state of Minnesota after signing with the Minnesota Thunder in 2008 after a successful collegiate career at Rutgers University.

"Matt has shown a lot of dedication to improving as a professional goalkeeper during his time in Minnesota, and we felt based on the strides we saw over this offseason that he was deserving of another contract," Lagos said. "We're eager to have him continue to improve in a Stars uniform, and I know he's excited to be back."

Van Oekel has featured prominently in goal for the Stars during their preseason training sessions at the National Sports Center's indoor facility. After signing with the Stars after the start of the 2010 season, he expressed excitement at having a place in the squad secured as the team begins to open training camp March 14.

"I'm excited to continue my career here in Minnesota," Van Oekel said. "It's a great all-around place to live, as well as to continue growing as a player."

Carl Craig to return as assistant coach The Stars' sideline will not be without its Geordie brogue in 2011 after the team announced the return of Craig as assistant coach for the upcoming season. The English coach from Newcastle upon Tyne joined the NSC Minnesota coaching staff in 2010 after holding several high-level youth coaching positions throughout the Twin Cities and southern Minnesota.

"Last season was a learning experience for me, as I had never met Manny before. It took some time to realize each other's strengths and figure out how best to compliment each other," Craig said, "so I'm ready to see that through and to improve on the strong rapport I built with the players."

Stars season tickets are on sale for the 2011 North American Soccer League season. Season tickets start at $135 for adult general admission or $75 for youth age 17 or younger. Season tickets are also available in reserved and pitch-side seats. Single-game tickets will be available beginning March 15. To order tickets, call (763) 792-7355.

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