Strykers Loan Stinson to Stars at Player’s Request

by Gunnar Berndt

Attacker eager to compete in playoffs, address personal circumstances 

Ontario, Calif. — The Empire Strykers ave granted the request of attacker Justin Stinson for a short-term loan within the Major Arena Soccer League (MASL). In weighing both Stinson’s development as a player and the 26-year-old’s personal needs, club officials were able to agree terms with the Tacoma Stars, who last week welcomed Empire forward-defender Stefan Mijatovic on another temporary deal. With the Strykers eliminated from postseason contention, Stinson and Mijatovic will have a chance to get accustomed to their new surroundings before competing in the knockout rounds with the Stars.

Midfielder Stinson recently asked for a loan for the opportunity to benefit from participation in the playoffs as well as for financial considerations and to be closer to his girlfriend and her parents, who reside in Idaho. The Missouri native missed Empire’s past two games, including yesterday’s clash with the visiting Chihuahua Savage, due to the birth of his second child, which also factored heavily into Stinson’s decision to request a personal favor from Strykers management and ownership.

“With Justin being one of the most explosive players in the league, we know our fans will be disappointed to see him wear a different jersey for a few weeks,” said Empire’s executive vice president, Jimmy Nordberg. “That said, there comes a time when we’re asked to look at a situation as human beings, and this is one of those times. In addition to furthering his ambitions on the field by playing in highly meaningful matches, Justin will be more easily able to travel from Washington state to his family and newborn baby. Receiving pay for an additional month also won’t hurt in trying to feed one more mouth at the table.”

For his part, Stinson expressed his gratitude to both clubs involved while leaving no doubt where his long-term allegiances lie.

“I want to thank both Empire and Tacoma for making this move possible,” he said in a written statement. “I’ve been told by several of our staff members what a top-notch organization the Stars are, and I’m excited to test myself by experiencing a new style of coaching and by facing some of the best with everything on the line. After hopefully going deep in the playoffs, I can’t wait to return to Southern California. This team and this region have become my home, and I intend to raise my family near my Strykers family.”

Stinson was one of a few returning Empire players following a radical offseason roster overhaul geared toward future success. While first-year Head Coach Paul Wright’s young side has struggled to compete with veteran-heavy squads over the course of the current campaign, all signs point to a brighter 2024-25. Among the hopeful indicators is Stinson’s continued growth, as the former outdoor prospect has shined on the turf alongside Mexican star Marco Fabián.

This season is among the most productive of Stinson’s five total campaigns in the Inland Empire. The ex-St. Louis Ambush man boasts a 1.6 points-per-game average, courtesy of 25 points on 14 goals and 11 assists, ranking second on the team behind Fabián in each of the four categories. Notably, he has been invited back to U.S. futsal national team camp this year, following previous invites as well as call-ups to the U.S. minifootball national team and the U.S. arena soccer national team. Stinson was a key part of the Stars and Stripes side that advanced from the group stage of the 2023 World Minifootball Federation World Cup.

While Justin Stinson and the Tacoma Stars take on hosts Texas Outlaws on Saturday, Marco Fabián and the Strykers will aim for continued progress in Sunday’s away clash with rival San Diego. The Strykers then welcome the Sockers to Ontario’s Toyota Arena the next Sunday, March 17. Tickets are available here.