Frequent contributor Jon Marthaler has written about virtually every sport in the Twin Cities, and fills in on Saturdays for the RandBall blog on StarTribune.com. He'll cover the professional soccer scene in the Twin Cities, whether at the Metrodome or at the National Sports Center.
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It may be the final week of February, but it's also the beginning of the American soccer season. Major League Soccer kicks off this Saturday across the continent, but closer to home, it's the beginning of the preseason for the Minnesota Stars, who began training at 9am this morning at the National Sports Center.
Unfortunately for Minnesota, February has dropped like a ton of snowy bricks on the team's preseason plan. The Stars are planning to visit both Kansas City and Chicago this preseason, but the Midwest got hit with nearly a foot of February last week, and another foot or more is predicted for both potential visit partners later this week. The team is currently working to reschedule and re-jigger the training trips to minimize the potential of any players being injured by marauding snowbanks.
The only player under contract missing from today's 9 a.m. kickoff was new striker Etienne Barbara, who had been scheduled to meet the team amidst the Kansas City trip. That said, it's likely that several more players will be added to the roster between today and the season's April 6 kickoff, especially since there are a number of out-of-contract players who are still playing in this year's edition of the Major Indoor Soccer League, which concludes in mid-March. Today is the first appearance for new Stars Bryan Arguez, Pablo Campos, Aaron Pitchkolan, Daryl Sattler, though, as the Stars begin to figure how their new players will slot into the lineup.
The team is still trying to figure out how to get a few exhibition games on the docket. For now, though, Minnesota's at home in Blaine for a week's worth of training.