The New England Revolution expanded their roster to 27 players on Wednesday when they acquired Daigo Kobayashi from the Vancouver Whitecaps in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft.
The transaction, which became official at halftime of Wednesday’s game against the Chicago Fire, comes after the Japanese midfielder spent a week on trial with the club. While the trial certainly played a role in earning Kobayashi a contract with the Revs, head coach Jay Heaps admitted that the 31-year-old had long been a player of interest.
“He’s a player that I actually enjoyed quite a bit last year, but also a player that was on my radar before he got into the league,” Heaps explained. “So, when he got into MLS I obviously kept a keen eye and we’re excited to have him.”
Kobayashi finished his first year in MLS with two goals and four assists in 30 appearances. During his time with the Whitecaps, Kobayahi spent time as both a central and outside midfielder. His versatility, skills and experience, both in and out of MLS, makes him a good addition for Heaps’ team.
“I think he adds some depth in the midfield and a little bit of experience and class on the ball that we need at certain times,” Heaps commented.
The Revolution already boasts a talented midfield with the likes of Kelyn Rowe, Lee Nguyen and Diego Fagundez. Despite this, Kobayashi will immediate compete for minutes because he offers something different to the team.
“He’s so quick on the ball,” Heaps stated. “He makes good, forward passes and he’s very attack-minded. That’s what we need in that position and he’s going to push the guys in front of him.”
Kobayashi is also a positive presence in the locker room. With 13 years of experience that includes time in Japan, Norway and Greece, Kobayashi will be able to provide guidance to one of the youngest squads in MLS.
“Daigo is a technically-gifted player who fits into our system well,” Revolution general manager Michael Burns said via press release. “He assimilated well with our club when he was in Tucson with us, and we are looking forward to his return to the club soon.”
The addition of Kobayashi is a part of a larger goal for Heaps. Since becoming head coach, the former player has looked to create healthy competition at every position. This philosophy is designed to prevent stagnation and encourage growth.
“When I took the job a couple years ago, that was one thing that I really wanted to instill, competition,” Heaps commented. “There was going to be a battle at every position because, to me, that brings out the best in players. It’s never easy, but this league is a tough, tough league. So, you’re going to have long seasons, so you need depth at almost every position. When you have that and you have competition, usually the best players start to push themselves ahead.”
(Image courtesy of RevolutionSoccer.net)