NEW YORK – Colorado Rapids right back Kosuke Kimura became the first and only Japanese player to win an MLS Cup title last month, and it generated significant media interest in his home country.
The San Jose Earthquakes will hope to find the next Kimura on Tuesday at the start of the J.League player combine. Head coach Frank Yallop and his assistant, Mark Watson, will both be in attendance to scout 150 J.League free agents in an event organized by the Japanese players' union.
The participation of the Quakes coaching staff is a direct result of the league’s expanding international scouting network. The latest addition is MLS Asian scouting coordinator Takehiko Nakamura, who will be looking to open a bigger door for players from the Asian Football Confederation to come through to ply their trade in MLS.
In addition to Kimura, only seven other players from AFC member nations have played in MLS: Hong Myung-Bo from South Korea; Khodadad Azizi, Mohammad Khakpour and Arash Noamouz from Iran; Shaker Asad from Palestine; Danny Allsopp from Australia; and Sunil Chhetri from India.
To help with fostering relationships in Japan, MLS executive vice president of player relations and competition Todd Durbin met with J.League chairman Kazumi Ohigashi, and the two leagues committed to sharing best practices.
In addition to Asia, Durbin has constructed an international scouting network that includes league representatives in South America, Mexico and Central America.