CARSON, Calif. – An offseason deal allowed Kyle Nakazawa return to his hometown, but a setback delayed his return to the pitch.
In a debut that was a long time coming, Nakazawa finally made his LA Galaxy bows on the weekend as the former Union midfielder played the final 18 minutes of his team’s 1-0 loss at Sporting KC.
“It was nice getting my first appearance,” Nakazawa told MLSsoccer.com. “Obviously it was not the result anybody wanted but it felt good being healthy again, getting out there and getting some minutes. I’m just looking to build on that and looking to contribute some more.”
Born in Torrance – one town over from Carson – Nakazawa grew up in nearby Rancho Palos Verdes before attending UCLA. He’d hoped to instantly fight for playing time in the midfield, but had to have his tonsils removed in February and missed the Galaxy’s preseason trip to Arizona.
“It was disappointing and frustrating obviously, coming here and then right off the bat not being able to play, but it’s something every professional athlete deals with: injuries,” Nakazawa said. “You can never tell with the timing of them so you just deal with them and move on.”
Nakazawa distinguished himself in central midfield during his two seasons with Philadelphia, particularly in 2011. He played in 22 games, logged 1,208 minutes while scoring a goal and assisting on three others. Overall, he played in 36 games with the Union.
While the Galaxy’s central midfield pecking order is well established – David Beckham, Juninho, Marcelo Sarvas and Michael Stephens have seen playing time there – Nakazawa wants to fit in somewhere.
“I’m not looking at it particularly at any position. I’m most comfortable playing anywhere in the midfield but as far as being able to get on the field and contribute, I’m going to have to be able to fulfill different roles,” he said. “I’m just looking to be sharp in those positions.”
The Galaxy have not gotten off to a strong start, with just three points from four league games. Still, Nakazawa said both he and the club will be better off because of it.
“It’s not a start that any teams wants, especially coming back from winning MLS Cup," he said. "I think we’re going to be a better team for it, dealing with adversity and these struggles early on, if we turn things around we’re going to be a much stronger team throughout the rest of the season.”
Luis Bueno covers the LA Galaxy for MLSsoccer.com and can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org