Minnesota Stars midfielder Gao leaves
The NSC Minnesota Stars announced the transfer of midfielder Leilei Gao to China League One side Beijing Baxy FC on Tuesday. Financial terms of the deal were not released.
Gao made 10 appearances for the Stars in the USSF D-2 Pro League this season, including seven starts. He scored the winning goal in the Stars' first-ever home game, converting a penalty kick in a 1-0 win against FC Tampa Bay.
Gao has played outside his native China since 2007, with stints in New Zealand, Finland and the United States. He told the Minneapolis Star Tribune in May that he felt the Chinese Football Association had made great strides toward reforming and revitalizing the game and that he wouldn't rule out a return to his home country.
"There is a different culture for soccer here in the U.S. that a lot of people come here and enjoy, and I think Leilei did enjoy and appreciate his time here," said Stars head coach Manny Lagos. "He felt the time was right to return home, and we felt it was the right thing to do for him and our club. Leilei is a good player with a great first touch, one of the best in the league. We wish him all the best as he moves on."
Goa returns to his hometown of Beijing to join his fourth team in China. He played previously for Wuhan FC, Beijing Guoan and Beijing Hongdeng. Beijing Baxy FC is currently in 11th place in the 13-team China League One.