Southern California Raised Soccer Player Returns From Croatia and Joins NISA West Coast Champions
Minjae Kwak is a local success story. Born in Korea, Kwak grew up playing for top Southern California youth soccer clubs before flying to Europe to sign his first pro contract. Now back on familiar fields, Kwak joins NISA’s West Coast Champions, the California United Strikers.
California United Strikers has announced the signing of Minjae Kwak. The 20-year-old midfielder is joining the NISA West Coast Champions, effective immediately. Kwak, who was playing in Europe last season, returned to Southern California in late December and has been practicing with the California United Strikers in January 2020.
“Minjae Kwak is a very talented and versatile player and we have great expectations of him,” said Michael Collins, president of California United Strikers. “We are very pleased Kwak has joined our team. He is smart, fast, and a very versatile player.”
California United Strikers head coach Don Ebert believes his new player, Minjae Kwak, has the opportunity to develop into a great professional soccer player.
“Kwak is a player I have seen over the past two or three years who has a huge ceiling that he’s just beginning to comprehend,” said Ebert.
“Minjae is a very versatile player who can play different positions.”Don Ebert, Head Coach of California United Strikers
“We don’t have a limitless budget, and guys who are versatile are very important at every level in professional soccer but especially useful in our league,” said Ebert.
A top-flight Southern California homegrown player who moved from Korea to the USA when he was young, Kwak grew up from the age of 12-years-old playing youth soccer in Orange County at Pateadores, Arsenal FC, and Strikers FC.
Signed by one of Croatia’s top soccer clubs just a few days before turning 19, Kwak played for HNK Gorica for one season and was excited to become a professional player, but found it hard to be away from home. Very happy to be back on home turf, Kwak credits playing in Croatia with helping him refine his skills and mature.
“Playing in Europe, I learned that you have to play and think quicker —and be more physical.”Minjae Kwak, California United Strikers
Joining the NISA West Coast Championship team was a goal for Kwak who looks forward to making a strong impact on the team.
“I feel really happy and thankful for joining Cal United Strikers and I want to do my best to win every game we play,” said Kwak who signed his contract just days before turning twenty years old.
“I want to help us win the championship again.”Minjae Kwak, California United Strikers
What is it like playing professional soccer today during the Coronavirus and competing in empty stadiums? “It’s not easy playing soccer during the pandemic, but players are able to do it because they know the fans are supporting them online since they can not come to watch the game in the stadium,” said Kwak.
“My first impression of Minjae was that he’s very skillful, and he’s really quick,” said California United Strikers’ teammate Chris Klute who welcomed Kwak warmly to the team.
“The guy has a lot of potential, and is really dynamic. I think Minjae will add a lot of versatility to the midfield,” added Klute, who earned Colorado Rapids‘ Defensive Player of the Year as a newcomer to the MLS in 2013.