Tacoma Stars sign three former Kitsap Pumas

The Tacoma Stars of the Professional Arena Soccer League have announced the signings of forward Eli Gordley, midfielder Kyle Johnson, and defender Kellen Wantulok, as they prepare for their season opener Friday night with the Turlock Express.

All three players played last season with the Kitsap Pumas, Tacoma’s cross-water rival in Washington State.

Kyle Johnson, seen here in Kitsap blue, switches over to the Stars for 2011-12. (John Crouch)

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Tacoma Stars Press Release

Johnson, 25, Kitsap’s leading scorer with 25 points (17G, 8A) last year, is fighting for a spot in Tacoma’s crowded midfield, but has impressed Tacoma’s coaching staff in pre-season.

“Kyle has come in and done well. He’s a very active player and has showed he can help us,” said Tacoma General Manager Todd Stauber. “

Although Tacoma has a crowded midfield with Leighton O’Brien, Viet Nguyen, Ian Weinberg, and Mark Lee, Stauber figures that Johnson will provide a lot to that group.

Eli Gordley, center, and Kyle Johnson, background, have signed with the Tacoma Stars after playing indoors with the Kitsap Pumas last season. (Jenni Conner)

“He gives us great cover at both midfield spots and he brings a different kind of energy compared to the rest of our midfield players,” said Stauber.

Gordley, 23, played in just four games for the Pumas last season, but recorded 11 points (7G 4A) during his short time on the field, proving he can score at the PASL level.

Eli Gordley. (David Falk)

“Eli was a handful for us to play against last year,” said Stars head coach O’Brien. “He’s a big guy with a good first touch and we’re looking for him to step up at target for us.”

Wantulok, 24, is a tough, physical left-footed defender who has impressed the Stars coaching staff.

“Kellen is a very good soccer player with a great left foot,” said O’Brien. “he has worked his way right into the lineup and he hasn’t even completely settled in yet. When he does, we feel like he’s going to be a big addition to our club.”

Kellen Wantulok. (David Falk)

The Stars are looking forward to their first two matches of the season on Friday and Saturday night when they travel to Turlock, California for a double header with the expansion Turlock Express.

“We feel good about our team going into these first two games in Turlock,” said Stauber. “We have a very good sense of how we want to play and who we are as a team, and we’re ready to get the season going.”

The Tacoma Stars play in the Western Division of the Professional Arena Soccer League and open their home campaign on December 3 against the Phoenix Monsoon at their new home for 2011/2012, Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila.


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