Empire Strykers

Empire, Tacoma Agree to Short-Term Loan for Mijatovic

February 27, 2024 - Major Arena Soccer League (MASL)
Empire Strykers News Release

Ontario, Calif. - The Empire Strykers today announced they have agreed to terms with the Tacoma Stars for a short-term loan deal that will see forward-defender Stefan Mijatovic join the Washingtonians until the end of the current Major Arena Soccer League (MASL) campaign. With the Strykers nearing elimination from postseason contention and continuing to mold their young squad into a 2024-25 championship contender, the move is designed to provide Mijatovic with valuable playoff experience before his rights revert back to Empire.

"We believe this loan is a win for all involved," said the Strykers' executive vice president, Jimmy Nordberg. "Stefan is one of the most exciting younger players in the league and has even more potential to unlock. Competing in meaningful matches for such a classy organization will boost his development, and our fans should be excited to follow Stefan in the postseason. We'd like to thank the Stars front office and technical staff for allowing one of our own to benefit from their top-notch coaching and club culture."

The Strykers acquired Mijatovic in November 2023 along with midfielder Quenton Swift, both coming to California as part of the trade that saw forward Franck Tayou depart for Utica City FC. Ilinois native Mijatovic began this season as a backline anchor but soon made the switch to the attack. He has 15 appearances for Empire with 21 points on 10 goals and 11 assists, to go with 22 blocks. All are career-highs. Since joining the MASL in 2016, the 27-year-old has tallied 30 goals, 22 helpers, and 76 blocks in 68 regular-season games. He has collected two goals, two assists, and six stopped shots in five playoff matches.

"Adding someone of Stefan's experience and ability is going to push the competitive level of this group," offered Tacoma's general manager, Nick Perera. "He's someone who can have an immediate impact on both sides of the ball, and we are excited to have him join our tight-knit locker room."

Mijatovic, who grew up in Chicago and Elmhurst, Illinois, played collegiately at local Morraine Valley Community College before embarking on his indoor career with the Chicago Mustangs in 2016-17. After stints with the Orlando SeaWolves (2018-19) and the Florida Tropics (2019-20), he joined the St. Louis Ambush for the 2021 campaign (started late due to the Covid-19 pandemic). Having missed 2021-22 due to injury, the Germany-born American was acquired by Utica midway through 2022-23. He has also spent time with outdoor side Chicago House AC of the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA).

While the Strykers host Kansas City on Wednesday and travel to face San Diego on Friday, Mijatovic will already be with Tacoma for a weekend doubleheader against visiting Harrisburg. Tickets to all Empire matches at Ontario's Toyota Arena are available.

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