March 15, 2011 - North American Soccer League (NASL) - Minnesota United FC
BLAINE, Minn. (March 15, 2011) - The NSC Minnesota Stars announced Tuesday the signing of three new players, pending USSF approval. Midfielders Sandy Gbandi and Ryan Woods are joining the team along with defender John Gilkerson. Per team policy, financial terms of the deals will not be announced. The team also announced the loss of midfielder Daniel Wasson due to a season-ending knee injury sustained in the offseason.
"We have a veteran at this level in Sandy, a proven player in John Gilkerson who's had some success the past few years in Carolina and a talented young player we've identified in Ryan who we believe has a bright future in Ryan," Stars head coach Manny Lagos said.
Gbandi, a Liberian-born midfielder, joined the club after three seasons with the Puerto Rico Islanders. Gbandi made 76 appearances in three seasons for the Islanders, scoring six goals. 2010 was a breakout year for him, as he made 33 appearances in the regular season and playoffs for the Islanders, recording four goals and five assists as the Islanders won the United States Soccer Federation Division 2 Pro League Championship.
Gbandi began his professional career in 2007, leaving the University of Alabama at Birmingham to join FC Dallas, who selected him with the ninth pick of the Major League Soccer Supplemental Draft. He joined Puerto Rico the following season without having made a first-team appearance for Dallas.
John Gilkerson after two seasons with the Carolina RailHawks. Gilkerson played in 17 games last season for the Carolina RailHawks, helping the team as it finished second in the USSF D2 Pro League. The 6-foot Winchester, Va., native began his professional career in 2008 after being selected in the MLS Supplemental Draft by the New York Red Bulls, although he had played during college in the USL Premier Development League for the Virginia Beach Submariners and Hampton Roads Piranhas. The Red Bulls sent Gilkerson on a season-long loan to the Richmond Kickers of the USL-1 in 2008. He signed for the Carolina RailHawks the following season, making 37 appearances for the Cary, N.C., club over the next two seasons.
The Stars will mark the starting point of midfielder Ryan Woods' professional career. The Preston, England, native played for three seasons at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, where he was a member of the Sun Conference All-Conference first team three years in a row. In 2010, he started every game for the Eagles and led the team with 11 goals and seven assists.
The Stars also announced bad news Tuesday, revealing that midfielder Daniel Wasson will likely miss the entire 2011 season with a torn ACL in his right knee. Wasson played in 28 matches last season, scoring two goals, including the first goal in club history on April 16 against the Carolina RailHawks. Despite his absence from the field, Wasson will assist around the Stars' front office and will serve as the team's kit man for the season.
"Danny's injury is very emotional for me because the relationship we have with the players is strong and because he's at about the same age I was when I sustained the same injury," Lagos said. "I'm glad that we've worked something out for him for this year to keep him part of the family and to keep around this team as he goes through his recovery process."
The Stars begin their 2011 North American Soccer League season April 9 with a road match against the Atlanta Silverbacks. The Stars' home opener is April 30 at 7:30 p.m. against the Carolina RailHawks. 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 17. To order tickets, call (763) 792-7355.