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Baltimore’s leading scorer, Gary Brooks, returns

March 18th 2010 – Baltimore, MD – Crystal Palace Baltimore have secured the return of 29-year old striker Gary Brooks, the club’s all time leading goal scorer. Brooks, who scored 14 goals for Palace Baltimore in a two-year spell, rejoins the club after spending last season at local rival Real Maryland FC.

Palace Baltimore owner and Co-Head Coach Pete Medd spoke about Brooks: “We are really excited to have Brooksy back in the fold. We expect him to do what he always does which is to score goals from any position. He is powerful in the air, has got good feet and is just fearless in the box. He has been a leader for us over the years too; he leads by example. He works extremely hard and is extremely brave. He is a guy defenders don’t like tangling with for the most part. He is the leading scorer in our club’s history and it’s great to have him back. We had some of our greatest successes with him; namely his goals in the US Open cup in our good run. We know he is very excited to be coming back home.”

Brooks, 6’1”, spent last season at USL-2 side Real Maryland FC where the Jamaican born player scored six goals in 14 appearances. However, his professional soccer career began in 2002 with the Virginia Beach Mariners of USL-1. He played a total of 23 games, scoring five goals in the process. This was followed by a two season stint at the Atlanta Silverbacks where he scored four goals in 23 matches. In 2006, Brooks moved to the Vancouver Whitecaps and played four times before signing for Crystal Palace Baltimore half way through their inaugural season in 2007.

Brooks’ time at Palace was a great success and his first season saw him named to the USL-2 All-League First-Team for scoring seven goals in nine games. Palace started slowly that season and had a problem finding the back of the net but the emergence of Brooks after his mid-season signing saw the debut team start to enjoy an upturn in fortune. Brooks’ consistent goal scoring projected the Baltimore outfit up the league and they eventually just missed out on a place in the end of season playoffs. The clinical finisher started the following season as he had ended the last and ultimately helped guide Palace to a playoff place where they were beaten in the semi-finals. His seven goals in 13 games meant that he was named to the USL-2 All-League Second team and also became the top goal scorer in the club’s history. In addition, Brooks was on the score sheet in the famous US Open Cup upset which saw the USL Second Division side beat New York Red Bulls of Major League Soccer 2-0 and progress to the quarter finals.

Crystal Palace Baltimore have added further depth to their back line with the signing of defender John Jonke. The former Canadian U-20 international arrives in Baltimore from Finland after helping his former side AC Oulu win promotion to the Finish top flight.

Jonke, 23, began his college playing career in 2006 after being enrolled at the University of Louisville on a soccer scholarship, starting 56 games for the Cardinals. His solid defensive displays earned him a spot with the Toronto Lynx of the PDL where he went on to make a total of 21 appearances. In 2008, Jonke, 6’ 2”, helped the Lynx reach the playoffs for the first time since 2000. In 2009, John followed his brother Frank to Finland where they both signed for AC Oulu of the Finish Second Division. Jonke made a total of ten appearances and scored one goal to help AC Oulu win promotion to the top division in Finish soccer. Jonke also has international experience after making three appearances for the U 20 Canadian National Team in 2005.

Palace continue their pre-season schedule this Saturday with a game against West Virginia University. The game has been moved to the Maryland SportsPlex (field 18) and will now kick off at 11am.

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