The Tampa Bay Rowdies announced on Thursday that the club has acquired 2011 North American Soccer League MVP forward Etienne Barbara in a trade with Minnesota United FC in exchange for Rowdies forward Mike Ambersley.
“We’re pleased to add a striker of Etienne’s caliber,” said Rowdies CEO and General Manager Andrew Nestor. “After discussions with Perry and Ricky, we believe Etienne will add quality and a new dimension to our offense led by Georgi Hristov and Luke Mulholland. This deal should help us as we make a serious run to repeat this season, and also position us well going forward as we address other positions. I wish Mike all the best. He was a big part of creating our championship team and that will always be appreciated by the club and I’m sure the fans as well.”
Barbara (6-0, 190) is a native of Malta, making 32 appearances for the national team and scoring three goals, including one during the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. The forward joined the Carolina RailHawks in 2010 after playing over 10 years in the Maltese first division and a brief stint in Germany. In his first NASL season, he was voted as the 2011 NASL MVP after he scored a league-high 20 goals and had eight assists for the RailHawks. With his help, Carolina clinched the NASL regular season title in 2011.
Due to his prolific season, he would follow Carolina head coach Martin Rennie to Major League Soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps. After his time in the MLS, Barbara signed for Minnesota United FC on January 23, 2013. Since his arrival, he has scored two goals and has also been named the NASL Player of the Week in Week 5.
In other club news, defender Takuya Yamada and midfielder Stuart Campbell have officially received their permanent U.S. residence status, meaning they will no longer count toward the NASL foreign player roster limit. With the addition of Barbara, the Rowdies now have six international players on roster and have one foreign spot open.
The 2012 NASL Champions will open the Fall Season on the road at Toyota Field against San Antonio on Saturday, August 3. The historic rivalry between the Rowdies and the Cosmos will re-emerge just two weeks into the 2013 NASL Fall Season on Saturday, August 10, with Tampa Bay hosting the Cosmos at Al Lang Stadium. To purchase tickets for the home opener, click here.