Cavalry FC continued its pre-season roster build on Thursday with a familiar face. The club announced that Brazilian attacker Oliver Minatel will be back at Spruce Meadows for the 2021 CPL season. Minatel, a 28-year-old forward from Campinas, Brazil, has played for Cavalry the past two years, making 36 total appearances and scoring eight goals. At the Island Games this past summer, he played in Cavalry's first seven matches, but in the club's final first-round game against York United (then York9 FC), he suffered a broken tibia and fibula from a tackle, therefore missed the rest of the season after undergoing surgery immediately.
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The injury was devastating at the time, prompting Minatel's Cavalry teammates to rally around him and win the match – Marcus Haber, who scored after coming on to replace Minatel, celebrated his goal by kissing his fallen teammate's jersey. Minatel has since recovered well, though, and it seems his return to the pitch could be soon. "We are delighted to see the return of Oliver to our team for the 2021 roster," said Cavalry FC coach Tommy Wheeldon Jr. "He has shown the strength of character to persevere through a tough injury rehabilitation process and looks to have come back stronger. It’s clear that Oliver wanted to be back with us through the work he’s put in and we are a much better team with him in the squad. Not only does he provide a goal threat for us, but he is also a terrific professional and great around the locker room." Prior to joining Cavalry for the inaugural CPL season, Minatel played at a handful of other clubs around the world, including the Ottawa Fury, the USL's Richmond Kickers, and South Melbourne FC in Australia. "I am very excited for the 2021 season and thankful for Cavalry FC owners, coaching staff, medical staff, players, and fans for standing by my side and helping me through my recovery," Minatel said in a statement. "I can’t wait to play in front of our fans at ATCO Field and give back all the positive energy I received since my injury." Cavalry now has 19 players signed to its roster for 2021, with 11 returning from 2020 (although one, Elijah Adekugbe, will sadly miss the entire upcoming season with an Achilles injury). Minatel returns to an attacking group featuring fellow returnees José Hernández and José Escalante, as well as newcomers like Ahinga Selemani and Anthony Novak.