News Release     03/23/2000      Djorn Buchholz    (651) 917-TEAM (8326)

Thunder sign leading scorer Mladenov

Midfielder more than tripled 1998 output in 1999

Losing two key players to the Tampa Bay Mutiny of Major League Soccer made Thursday's signing of leading scorer Stoian Mladenov (STOY-on Muh-LOD-unov) especially important for the A-League national champion Minnesota Thunder pro soccer team.

With defender Kalin Bankov and forward Amos Magee joining former Thunder president and general manager Bill Manning in Tampa, Mladenov will be called upon to continue the improvement he realized between the 1998 and 1999 seasons. After scoring 8 points (3 goals, 2 assists) in 20 games during his first A-League season, Mladenov more than tripled those totals (10-8-28) during the 1999 regular season.

"He's really maturing as a player," said Thunder coach Buzz Lagos. "In 1998, he was a young player who was still learning what it took to play in the A-League. He listens well and is a good learner, and he's really blossomed into a good player."

Mladenov, 24, led the Thunder (28-6) in games played (33), games started (32) and minutes played (2,932) through the regular season and playoffs. He also led the team in goals (13), points (35), shots (73) and fouls (60).

Mladenov scored eight goals and added four assists in the final 13 games of Minnesota's run to the Central Division championship, and he scored at least one point in four of six playoff games. Six of Mladenov's goals were game-winners and he set up three other decisive tallies.

Mladenov spent part of the off-season with the Cleveland Crunch of the indoor National Professional Soccer League (NPSL). He scored four 2-point goals and added 1 assist for 9 points in 17 games with the Crunch.

APPLE VALLEY GOALKEEPER JON LOWERY TRAINING IN GERMANY

Second-year Thunder goalkeeper Jon Lowery of Apple Valley is in Germany training with third division club Sportfreunde Siegen.

Founded in 1899, Sportfreunde Siegen entered last weekend in third place as it seeks to earn promotion to the second division (Bundesliga 2). Prior to returning to the Twin Cities on April 10, Lowery is expected to train with Wilhelmshaven in northern Germany before joining Belgian first division club Lommel FC. Lowery also plans to visit former Thunder and D.C. United standout Tony Sanneh, who is currently playing for Bundesliga club Hertha Berlin.


Minnesota Thunder Player Bio

No. Name Pos. Ht. Wt. DOB 1999 club College

11 Stoian Mladenov M 6-0 165 10/02/75 Minnesota (A-League) ------------

1999 Season - 27 GP, 26 GS, 2,392 min, 10 goals, 8 assists, 28 points…Led team in games, starts, minutes, goals, points, shots (61) and fouls (50)…Increased regular-season scoring totals by 20 points over 1998 (3-2-8)…Set up three game-winning goals - May 9 over New Orleans (2-0), June 19 over Indiana (2-0) and 1-0 over Tennessee (July 25)…Scored five game-winning goals - May 29 against El Paso (7-0), July 17 against Toronto (5-0), July 30 against Orange County (2-1), Aug. 21 at Cincinnati (4-1) and Sept. 5 at Milwaukee (2-1)…Scored two goals in May 29 win over El Paso and Sept. 5 win at Milwaukee…Scored 7 goals and 4 assists in final 12 games…Named to Team of the Week June 1 and Sept. 7.

1999 Playoffs - 6 GP, 6 GS, 540 min, 3 goals, 1 assist, 7 points…Third-leading playoff scorer behind forwards Amos Magee (4-2-10) and Gerard Lagos (4-1-9)…Scored clincher in 4-0 win over New Orleans Sept. 11 and 2-0 victory over U.S. Pro-40 Sept. 20…Notched game-winner on PK in 4-1 win over San Diego Oct. 2.

Soccer - Mladenov joined the Thunder early in the 1998 season and played in 20 games, starting 18…Seventh on team with eight points on three goals and two assists…Named to A-League Team of the Week after scoring twice in 3-0 win at Charleston June 6…Also scored in 2-1 win over Milwaukee July 13…Started all six playoff games, playing all but nine minutes…Scored first Thunder goal in 2-1 Western Conference semifinal win over Seattle Sept. 18…Set up final goal in 5-1 opening-round win over Milwaukee…Spent 1997 with the Long Island Rough Riders team that won the USISL U-23 championship…Named MVP of the league, which included current Major League Soccer players Rich Kotschau (Chicago Fire), Mike Petke (New York/New Jersey MetroStars) and Jesse Van Saun (New England Revolution)…In 31 apperances for the Bulgarian junior national team, Mladenov wore the No. 10 shirt emblematic of the squad's best player…Won the league championship with Nadur Youngsters of Malta.