Central defender and Minnesota Stars FC captain Kyle Altman kissing the NASL Soccerbowl trophy after winning the 2011 championship in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. - Jeremy Olson - www.digitalgopher.net
After seeing that Kyle Altman and Matt VanOekel were on trial with D.C. United, Brian Quarstad from IMSoccer News stopped by to give us some information on the two.
Brian Quarstad, who is from Minnesota and has extensively covered the second division Minnesota Stars FC for his IMSoccer News website, was gracious enough to come by and give us more information about Kyle Atlman and Matt Van Oekel, two D.C. United trialists from the Stars. You should also check out his Twitter feed for more details about the possible integration of the MLS Reserve League and USL Pro. The below information was provided by Quarstad and very slightly edited together by me.
Kyle Altman is a 26 year old centerback from Albuquerque, New Mexico; he went to the Division III Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, where he was first team All American in 2006 and 2007 and went to the national championship game in 2007. Altman was drafted by the New England Revolution in the 2008 Supplemental Draft, but was not offered a contract and was waived.
Altman knew Kevin Friedland, a long time player for the Minnesota Thunder and their head coach Amos Magee, after participating in the Maccabiah Games; this lead him to coming to Minnesota for a tryout and was signed by Magee who later became an assistant coach with the Portland Timbers. Altman played midfield for the Thunder in 2008 than took a year off to go back to school.
In 2010, Altman joined the spinoff of the Thunder, the NSC Minnesota Stars, after the former team folded; because of injuries he moved into central defense and was quick learner. In 2011 and 2012 he captained the Stars and led the NASL side to the 2011 NASL Championship. He also was named to the NASL Best XI this past year and was worthy of such a title the previous year.
Altman trialed with the Portland Timbers in the fall of 2011 and with the San Jose Earthquakes in the winter. San Jose looked to be very interested in the 6'1" defender until he pulled a hamstring which sent him back to Minnesota for rehab. He struggled with the same injury through the spring of the 2012 season but regained his form and helped the Stars to their second consecutive NASL Soccerbowl Championship appearance.
Altman's father is a orthopedic surgeon and Kyle is planning on becoming a doctor as well. It's a big year for Altman with some major decisions to make. He has deferred for 3 years and now must make a decision to either start medical school or continue to play soccer. If he chooses the later he will have to retest and reapply for medical school when he is ready.
Matt VanOekel is a 26 year old goalkeeper from Chesapeake, Virginia. He attended Rutgers where he played in 47 games and earned 20 wins. Matty is a very big presence in goal at 6'4" and has been with Minnesota since 2008 when he signed with the Thunder. He signed with the NSC Minnesota Stars in 2010 but didn't see much playing time with veteran Joe Warren between the posts in 2010 and 2011, only playing in 2 matches in 2011.
Warren retired after the 2011 season allowing VanOekel to finally step up and show his stuff. He played in 30 matches in regular and post season play in 2012 and was in goal for the 3-1 US Open Cup win over Real Salt Lake at Rio Tinto, facing 7 shots and making 6 saves against the MLS side.
In regular season play VanOekel had a 1.20 GAA with 30 GA and 77 saves. VanOekel is good natured and has a very quirky sense of humor. He likes keeping things light and enjoys being the cut-up on the team.