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Leilei Gao Released by NSC Minnesota Stars

2010 June 29
by Brian Quarstad

The NSC Minnesota Stars will announce soon that Leilei Gao, the 29-year old midfielder from Beijing, China, has been released by the team. Gao requested a transfer in order to move back to China. Gao was said to have never really settled in with the team or Minnesota and was still living in the NSC dormitory up until he left the club last week.

Gao was undoubtedly one of the more skilled players on the team playing as a wide midfielder and looked very promising early on in the Stars’ preseason training. But his playing time dwindled as the team was giving up goals in an early stretch of the regular season. Gao was sometimes criticized for being a somewhat one-sided player and not defending as well as attacking. He also had a fiery side on the field and was often seen in the middle of altercations. Still, he seemed to be a fan favorite with his step-over moves and quick acceleration to beat defenders on the flank.

A review of Gao’s playing records show a man with a history of being unsettled in recent years. He has played for six teams in the last five years after spending eight years at Beijing Guoan in China. Gao moved to New Zealand in 2006 to play for the Knights where he made 7 appearances before moving to Finland to play for MyPa. There he made only 7 appearances before moving back to New Zealand to play for the Wellington Phoenix in 2008. He made 8 appearances there but it was reported that his contract was terminated after a disagreement with the front office. He then moved back to China to play for Beijing Hongdeng in 2009 but moved back to Finland once more after only one month and appearing in 1 game. Gao played nine times for FC KooTeePee before signing his contract with the Stars. He scored only one goal for his club teams in the last 4 years.

The Chinese midfielder hinted a move back to China in an interview published in the Star and Tribune in May. He told reporter David La Vaque that he was having fun playing in Minnesota but that he “remained open to ending his exile and playing soccer in China now that changes were taking place. In 2009, Chinese officials launched an investigation into allegations of corruption and have since fined, ousted and even jailed those found guilty,” according to the article.

“It’s a better climate,” Gao said, referring to the changes in football in China.

Gao appeared in 10 games for the Stars logging in 651 minutes. He took 13 shots in that time with 1 goal and 0 assists while accumulating 2 yellow cards and 9 fouls.

Gao will be remembered by NSC Stars fans for his smile, good sense of humor and as the first NSC Minnesota Stars player to score a goal in the team’s inaugural home game in Blaine, Minnesota.

4 Responses
  1. Jim permalink
    June 29, 2010

    I’m bummed. That guy was a lot of fun to watch.

    Just so I understand, though, he was simply released from his contract? Not purchased by another club or collective or whatever it is they have in China?

  2. Soccer Boy permalink
    June 29, 2010

    I never personally spoke with Gao, but he seemed like a nice guy. I will miss him! He certainly has skill.

  3. FlashyAndy permalink
    June 29, 2010

    I agree he has skill and seemed like a nice guy (based almost entirely from StarsTV, mind you) but on the field he seemed to do more complaining and whining at the officials than producing goals or setting up teammates.

    I think he could have been an asset to the Stars in the future, but if there’s a reason he’s been with so many clubs in such a short time, I think we’ve seen it.

  4. June 29, 2010

    Leilei is arguably the most skillful player on the team (honestly, that’s a true statement) but I think he brought this upon himself by refusing to be a 2-way player. This team is simply not able (read: good enough) to have guys who think they don’t need to be defensively responsible.

    Also, I’d heard that he’d played for a few teams in his career, but his bizarre club transfer history would appear to show that what happened in Minnesota is not unique, but rather par for the course with him.

    Too bad, because he did seem like a good guy who fit in and was an enjoyable presence in the locker room

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