Silverbacks Sign Defender Kosuke Kimura

Japanese veteran won the 2010 MLS Cup under Gary Smith
Silverbacks Staff | Jul 2, 2015

Japanese-born full back Kosuke Kimura has signed with the Atlanta Silverbacks for the NASL Fall Season; he will be eligible to play after the opening of the U.S. Soccer Federation's midseason transfer window on July 8. The Club announced the addition on Thursday, pending ITC approval. 

Kimura — the first Japanese-born player to ever play in Major League Soccer -- will reunite with Silverbacks head coach Gary Smith, who led the defender to the 2010 MLS Cup during the pair’s four seasons together with the Colorado Rapids. Also welcoming Kimura to Atlanta from the 2010 championship season will be former Rapids goalkeeper Steward Ceus, now the Silverbacks’ No. 1, and assistant coach Steve Guppy.

“I’m just really excited with the team and the coaches,” Kimura said. “Atlanta is a good atmosphere and I feel the positive energy already.”

Atlanta becomes Kimura’s fifth club in a nine-year professional career with more than 200 appearances, including a MLS Cup, a Supporters’ Shield, and six CONCACAF Champions League appearances throughout his time with the Rapids, Portland Timbers, and New York Red Bulls. The defender most recently played for Polish club Widzew Łódź in early June, participating in 952 total minutes in 12 matches for the I Liga club.

“I try to provide energy every time for the team and give the team a push,” Kimura said. “I can defend and I can attack too. Off the field I will try to help younger guys by being a good example. Every training session, I bring it.”  

Born in Kobe, Japan, Kimura spent his youth career in the Kawasaki Frontale (J-League) system before moving stateside to play collegiately at Western Illinois University from 2003-2006. With the Leathernecks, the defender won team MVP honors and even joined Thunder Bay Chill in the Premier Development League for a season, giving him his first taste of North American club soccer.

Kimura embarked on his professional career after being selected by the Rapids with the 35th overall pick in the 2007 MLS Supplemental Draft, and he became the first Japanese-born player to feature in the league upon his debut. Playing in Denver until 2012, Kimura lifted the 2010 MLS Cup while under the tutelage of Smith and Guppy, who coached together in Colorado from 2009-2011. In total, Kimura appeared 117 times and scored four goals in a Rapids shirt, most notably a decisive semifinal goal that sent Colorado to the 2010 MLS championship.

“Gary and Steve are good people and they know what they’re doing,” Kimura said. “They know exactly what they want. They always want their players to work 100 percent. They’re straightforward, and I’m similar.”

Kimura moved to the Portland Timbers during the 2012 MLS campaign, finishing the season in Portland before joining the New York Red Bulls in early 2013. The defender made a total of 37 first-team appearances for New York in 2013 and 2014, including 24 league games for the eventual winners of the 2013 Supporters’ Shield — given to MLS' best regular season side. He played 13 matches in 2014, his last season at Red Bull Arena.

Following his four-month stay in Poland from March to June, Kimura is back in the U.S. and thinking optimistically as the Silverbacks gear up for the remainder of the NASL season with three of four playoff positions still available. Atlanta will begin the Fall Season on the road July 4 against the Tampa Bay Rowdies (6 p.m., ESPN3).

“We have a huge task ahead of us,” Kimura said. “We have to get together as a team — coaches, front office, everybody — and stay as one. You have to have a team in order to win.

“We have 20 games to go. It’s not going to be easy, I know that. What we can do is leave everything we have out there on the field. I know we will get good results.”

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