Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Japanese players being attracted to USA's MLS

Takehito Nakamura, who works in international business for Soccer United Marketing, the New-York based marketing arm of Major League Soccer, is aiming to introduce more Japanese players to the USA competition. "I strongly believe it is going to happen more often and is something I would like to be fully involved in," he told James Mulligan of The Japan Times. "My task is international and within that Asia is a market. I deal heavily with teams, agents and the Japan Football Association and, through conversations and being introduced to different players, cases of players coming over can happen. We don't do scouting, it is more to do with relationships and business."

With MLS entering its 12th season and the J. League in its 15th, Nakamura believes there are a lot of similarities between the two leagues. "But when I go to Japan people say the MLS is not good, and when I am in the States people say the J. League is poor, but both don't know about each other enough. My task is to engage Asia to the MLS and export the MLS to Asia."

Nakamura believes the salary cap in the MLS may be an obstruction for recruiting top Japanese players, but a career in America has its advantages for youngsters, who may be attracted by the emphasis placed on a college education, the focus on a secondary career outside of soccer, as well as the relative anonymity enjoyed by the players. "If a player craves fame, then maybe it is not the place for them," he said.

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