Stefan De Las is the latest Menace alum to ink a pro contract, agreeing to terms with Finnish side MYPA. Here, De Las (right) fends off Mark Bloom in the Menace's 1-0 home loss to AC St. Louis on June 15 in the U.S. Open Cup.
WEST DES MOINES, Iowa – Aug. 24, 2010 – Following in his coach’s footsteps, former Des Moines Menace defender Stefan De Las has signed a contract to play professional soccer for Myllykosken Pallo - 47in Finland.
De Las’s signing comes 10 years after Menace assistant head coach Neathan Gibson played for the Finnish Premier Division club, which is more commonly referred to as MYPA.
A native of San Fernando, Trinidad & Tobago, De Las played for Des Moines each of the last three Premier Development League seasons, appearing in 28 matches.
“I’m extremely happy for Stefan,” said Menace head coach Laurie Calloway. “It’s always nice to see a quality young man and a good man achieve his just rewards. He will make an excellent professional player.”
After his final season in Des Moines was cut short by a groin injury in June, the recent Graceland University graduate was invited to try out with a professional team in Sweden last month. This led to a tryout with a club in Norway, followed by a week-long audition with MYPA.
When De Las mentioned his upcoming opportunities to Gibson, the assistant coach mentioned he had played for MYPA from 1998 to 2000. De Las told his representative, Kevin Cowan, about Gibson’s Scandinavian playing days. Cowan recalled competing against Gibson in a preseason match at the University of South Florida in 2000.
Upon hearing from Cowan, Gibson reached out to Marco Manso, MYPA’s scout, who played alongside Gibson in 1999 and 2000. Manso and head coach Janne Lindberg, who was a captain on those MYPA teams, invited De Las for a tryout that ended with his signing on Saturday.
The agreement between De Las and MYPA continues through the conclusion of the season in late October, but the team (5-8-6) has the option to extend the contract for next season.
“He’s got all tools to play at that level,” Gibson said of the left-footed De Las, who looks to contribute as an attacking midfielder. “This league is a good stepping stone. MYPA has a really good history, a tradition as a feeder system to Europe.”
A decade ago, Gibson was noticed by Major League Soccer teams during his final year with the Finnish club. He caught on with the Colorado Rapids in 2001 – his final professional season. Gibson played for the Menace the next year as a player-coach under Calloway, launching his coaching career and guiding Des Moines to an undefeated season and the PDL’s 2002 regular-season title.
ABOUT THE MENACE: Iowa’s Premier Soccer Team since 1994, the Des Moines Menace is a member of the 67-team Premier Development League – the United Soccer Leagues’ highest amateur level. The Menace, the 2009 PDL Organization of the Year, is preparing for its 18th season, which begins in May 2011. The team plays its home games in a fun, family friendly environment at Valley Stadium in West Des Moines.