With the inaugural Pacific Rim Cup, powered by Under Armour, set to be played at Aloha Stadium on Feb. 8 and 10, there is much for fans of the four participating teams to be looking forward to.
Here are some news and notes for the Columbus Crew SC, Vancouver Whitecaps FC, Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo and Iwaki FC ahead of the PRC.
1. PRESEASON SCHEDULES
・Columbus Crew SC
Players will gather for entrance physicals, tests and two training sessions on Jan. 24-25 in Columbus, Ohio. The group will then hold a camp from Jan. 26-Feb. 6 in Casa Grande, Arizona Jan. 26-Feb. 5 before traveling in Honolulu on Feb. 6.
・Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo
The team began training January 15 at Kin-cho Tohoku Stadium in Okinawa Prefecture, Japan, where they’ll remain through Jan. 31. Consadole Sapporo is scheduled to arrive in Honolulu, Oahu on Feb. 3 and remain on the island until Feb. 11.
The club began practicing on Jan. 9 at the Iwaki FC Fields in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, with training matches scheduled for Jan. 21 and Jan. 28 (vs. Fukushima United FC). Iwaki FC is scheduled to arrive in Honolulu on Feb. 4.
Players will report for the start of training on January 22 at the Whitecaps facility in Vancouver, British Columbia. The group will train in Canada until they travel to Honolulu on Jan. 31, where they will train for nearly two weeks.
2. REGULAR SEASON DEBUTS
Consadole-Sapporo will kick off it’s 2018 J-League 1 campaign on Saturday, Feb. 24 when they visit Sanfrecce Hiroshima at EDION Stadium in Hiroshima. Columbus will open its 2018 MLS season on Sat., March 3 with a visit to MLS Cup champion Toronto FC. Vancouver kicks off their MLS season at home on March 4 against the Montreal Impact. Iwaki FC’s schedule for play in TOHOKU Member of Society Soccer League has not been announced.
3. INTERNATIONAL FLAVORS
While the Pacific Rim Cup includes teams from the United States, Canada and Japan, the four participating teams currently have players that represent 23 countries, including the six confederations.
As of Jan. 22, the rosters of Columbus, Sapporo, Vancouver, and Iwaki FC, include players from the USA, Canada, Japan…as well as Argentina, Brazil, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela; Mexico, Honduras, Costa Rica, Panama; Iraq, Egypt, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Cameroon; England, Portugal; Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and Thailand.
4. NATIONAL TEAM CALL-UPS
Five players from Columbus and Vancouver received the privilege to represent their respective national teams in January. Columbus captain and midfielder Wil Trapp, newly acquired forward Gyasi Zardes and goalkeeper Zack Steffen as well as Vancouver defender Tim Parker are all currently in camp with the U.S. Men’s National Team in preparation for a friendly match against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Jan. 28 at StubHub Center in Carson, California.
Meanwhile, Vancouver midfielder Alphonso Davies – the 17-year-old who won the Golden Boot as the top goal-scorer in the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup, as well as Best Young Player and Best XI honors – is with the Canadian Under-23 team in Orlando, Florida as the group holds its first camp with a look down the road at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
5. GET TO KNOW THE FOUR COACHES
Consadole Sapporo introduced Mihailo Petrovic as the club’s new head coach on Jan. 10. The 60-year-old Serbian coach most recently led J-League side Urawa Reds from 2012-2017, and had previously managed Sanfrecce Hiroshima from 2006-2011.
Columbus is led by former U.S. National Team World Cup defender Gregg Berhalter, who serves as the club’s Sporting Director and Head Coach. Berhalter, 44, and whose 18-year career included stints on clubs in Holland, Germany, England and the USA, has been at the helm of the Crew since the 2014 season.
Yuzo Tamura, 35, enters his second season managing Iwaki FC. The Shibukawa, Gunma-native was primarily a holding midfielder for J-League side Shonan Bellmare before retiring in 2011 and moving into the coaching ranks. Last season, Tamura led Iwaki to an improbable Second Round win over Consadole Sapporo in the 97th Emperor’s Cup before falling to Shimizu S-pulse in the Third Round
Carl Robinson enters his fifth season as head coach of the Vancouver Whitecaps after serving two as assistant coach. A former Wales international, the 41-year-old played 11 years in England and five in MLS before retiring following the 2011 season.
6. WORLD CUP TIES
This summer will see the biggest sporting event in the world – the 2018 FIFA World Cup – take place from June 14-July 15 throughout Russia. While that is a national team competition, the individuals with clubs playing in the Pacific Rim Cup have past – and, hopefully future – history with the most prestigious global tournament.
Columbus head coach Gregg Berhalter and assistant coach Josh Wolff were members of the USA’s teams at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea / Japan, and at the 2006 World Cup in Germany. Crew defenders Jonathan Mensah (2010 in South Africa, 2014 in Brazil) and Harrison Afful (2014) represented Ghana in the last two World Cups.
Consadole Sapporo midfielder Shinji Ono was only 18 when he made his World Cup debut for Japan at the 1998 World Cup in France. Ono also represented his country at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. Sapporo’s Junichi Inamoto scored two goals for Japan at the 2002 World Cup, and also played in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups.
Vancouver currently has two players who played key roles in helping their respective national teams qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Whitecaps captain and defender Kendall Waston scored the goal that clinched his native Costa Rica a berth in Russia this summer. The Ticos, which advanced to the Quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup, have been placed in Group E along with Brazil, Serbia and Switzerland.
Waston’s club teammate Yordy Reyna was a member of Peru’s National Team that defeated New Zealand in November to clinch the final spot at the 2018 World Cup. Peru will return to the world’s stage for the first time in 36 years, having been drawn to Group C along with France, Australia and Denmark.
Three other Whitecaps players with experience on their respective national teams will hold out hope to receive return calls to represent their countries in Russia: Aly Ghazal (Egypt), Bernie Ibini (Australia) and Nosa Igiebor (Nigeria).
Japan will face Colombia, Senegal and Poland in Group H.
On Tuesday the Vancouver White Caps invited Hokkaido Consadole Sapporo to the UH Rainbow Wahine soccer field and took part in a preseason match. The Whitecaps won 4-0.
To purchase advanced tickets, call the Aloha Stadium Charge Line at 808-483-7123 or visit the Aloha Stadium Box Office.
Charge Line and Box Office are open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday. Mastercard and Visa credit cards accepted.
***Online sales via etickethawaii.com
Reserved Seats $15 in advance (by Jan. 31), $20 starting Feb. 1.
General Admission Seats: $12 in advance (by Jan. 31), $17 starting Feb. 1.
Youth (Ages 6-17), Seniors (65 & older) and Military: $9 in advance (by Jan. 31), $14 starting Feb. 1
Ages 5 & Under: Free for General Admission seating.
Tournament Schedule / Kickoff Times:
Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018, at Aloha Stadium:
1st Game: 5 p.m. – Vancouver vs. Iwaki (Japan Time: Fri., Feb. 9 at noon)
2nd Game: 8 p.m. – Columbus vs. Sapporo (Japan Time: Fri., Feb. 9 at 3 p.m.)
Saturday, Feb. 10, 2018, at Aloha Stadium:
1st Game: 4 p.m. – Third Place Match (Japan Time: Sun., Feb. 11 at 11 a.m.)
2nd Game: 7 p.m. – Championship Match (Japan Time: Sun., Feb. 11 at 2 p.m.)
Tournament Website: www.pacificrimcup.com
Official Instagram Page: https://www.instagram.com/pacificrimcup/