September 4th, 2012 by Kelly McLain
For almost six seasons Kosuke Kimura plied his trade with the Colorado Rapids, and now after nearly two months with the Portland Timbers, he’s faced with the surreal experience of playing against his former teammates—in back-to-back games.
Kimura was taken by Colorado in the third round (35th overall) of the 2007 MLS Supplemental Draft and became MLS’s first Japanese-born player in the process. Few players in general make a successful MLS career after being taken in the Supplemental Draft, let alone coming out of the third round. But Kimura’s attitude and work rate, readily apparent to anyone who’s seen the 5’ 9” defender play, has not only kept him in the league, but allowed him to be a major contributor to an MLS Cup-winning side.
Being relegated to the bench in Colorado and eventually shipped off to Portland wasn’t easy for him, but Kimura recognizes that he’s been given another great opportunity. “It was tough for me to leave there and it was obviously tough for me to play against those guys,” said Kimura. “I went through everything with those guys. We won the championship two years ago, and it was tough for me to play against them, but at the same time, I needed a fresh start somewhere and the Timbers gave me a chance to do it.”
Kimura has started every game since arriving in Portland, but it’s easy to see that he’s still a little conflicted about the move and still working to settle in. “It’s been rough for me the last month-and-a-half or so since I got here,” Kimura said. “I played for about six years there… it was tough for me to leave.”
Kimura keeps in touch with a number of guys on the Rapids and still has plenty of friends in the Denver area. He’s looking forward to going back for Wednesday’s match and playing in front of the familiar crowd at Dick’s Sporting Goods Park—and hopes he gets a warm reception.
As for the first match against his former teammates, he’s glad Portland won but it was a game that was definitely more personal to him and a little more emotional too. It made sense then, when Bright Dike couldn’t lift his log slice in front of the Timbers Army because he was being interviewed for the national television broadcast, that Kimura would take his place and raise the log in his stead. “A bunch of guys just told me to lift it up,” Kimura said with a smile. “It was definitely a good moment, I won’t forget that for a while.”
Now the team’s attention turns to playing the Rapids again, this time in Colorado. Kimura gave the coaching staff some info on his former teammates before the first clash, but with back-to-back games against the same opponent there won’t be any secrets this time around. “I know how everybody there plays and how they want to play, so I definitely told the coaches some helpful information. I don’t know what’s going to happen next game because it’s going to be their home game. They’re going to be more attacking, more offensive.”
The game is not only important for Kimura, but could be the Timbers best chance of finally snagging an elusive road victory, something the team hasn’t been able to do yet in 2012. Said Kimura: “I think we’re really building up to this away game. We’ve been performing better in our away games, so I think we should really be looking forward to getting the win over there.”