The Minnesota Stars announced six major player moves designed to make them the favorite to hoist the Soccer Bowl championship for their second time in 2013 after winning the 2011 title, then losing in the 2012 championship game to the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
The team signed the league's first two Most Valuable Players, forwards Etienne Barbara and Pablo Campos (both to three-year deals), the 2012 NASL Golden Glove in goalkeeper Daryl Sattler (signed to a three-year deal), and midfielders Bryan Arguez (two-year deal) and Aaron Pitchkolan (two-year deal), and re-signed forward Simone Bracalello (two-year deal).
Barbara and Campos, teammates with the Carolina RailHawks in 2011 and each signed for three seasons with Minnesota, combined for 35 goals, leading them to the league's regular season championship and to the semifinals of the Soccer Bowl playoffs.
Barbara moved last season to Major League Soccer's Vancouver Whitecaps, while Campos joined the NASL's lone expansion franchise last season, the San Antonio Scorpions, where he scored a league-high 21 goals and led the team to the regular season title.
Sattler had an 0.79 goals against average and 13 shutouts in 24 games with the Scorpions last season. He began his NASL career with Tampa Bay in 2010, but a knee injury ended his 2011 season there prematurely.
Arguez spent half of last season on loan from MLS' Montreal Impact to FC Edmonton, began his career in MLS with DC United as the 11th overall pick in the 2007 SuperDraft, then played two seasons in Germany with Hertha Berlin before returning to the US.
Pitchkolan also spent 2012 with the Scorpions and has played for MLS' FC Dallas and San Jose Earthquakes, as well as the Rochester Rhinos and Puerto Rico Islanders in NASL.
Bracalello, in his fourth season with the Stars, has scored 20 goals in his first three seasons, the most in team history.
Minnesota opens the league's first split-season schedule April 6 at the Metrodome against the Scorpions, then, after five games there, will play the rest of the 2013 season's home games at the National Sports Center in Blaine, MN.