Nashville SC of the United Soccer League (USL) announced the signings of four players to the club’s inaugural USL roster on Thursday, pending USL and federation approval. Headlining the group is defender Kosuke Kimura, who in 2007 became the first Japanese-born player in Major League Soccer (MLS). Keeper C.J. Cochran and defender Taylor Washington, both from the U.S. and Canadian forward Michael Cox add to a growing Nashville SC roster.
“It’s wonderful to get to work with Kosuke again,” said Nashville SC head coach Gary Smith. “He has a work ethic that I have rarely seen and is in perpetual motion throughout the 90 minutes. All four of these players add a winning mentality that we need at this club. C.J., Taylor, and Michael all are outstanding players and are fantastic additions with bright futures at Nashville SC.”
Kimura, 33, earned instant fame in 2007 when he was drafted by Colorado Rapids of MLS as the first Japanese-born player in the MLS. In the Rapids run to the 2010 MLS Cup, Kimura scored the game-winning goal in the Western Conference Finals to send Colorado to its first-ever championship appearance. With Nashville SC, Kimura will be reunited with Rapids keeper Matt Pickens and head coach Gary Smith, with whom he won the MLS Cup.
Recently, Kimura has played for Tulsa Roughnecks in the USL. Last year, Kimura made 24 appearances for the club and was instrumental in ten clean sheets kept by Tulsa in 2017.
Coach Smith's Thoughts: “Kosuke is a very experienced outside back with an unquenchable appetite for soccer. He has a work ethic that I have rarely seen and is in perpetual motion throughout the 90 minutes. An MLS Champion in 2010, Kosuke brings an out and out winning mentality.”
From Alpharetta, Ga., C.J. Cochran, 26, will form the Nashville SC goalkeeping tandem with Pickens. Cochran has spent the last two seasons with USL club OKC Energy, getting a chance to start toward the end of the 2017 season. He showed out in his chance with the Energy, winning six of the final seven games of the campaign, leading OKC to the USL Western Conference Finals. In those seven games, Cochran allowed only four goals and kept three clean sheets.
Coach Smith's Thoughts: “C.J. is possibly the most improved goalkeeper in USL over the past two years. He was instrumental in helping OKC Energy to the Western Conference Final with an outstanding penalty shootout display against San Antonio. He has great presence, is brave and has an extremely bright future.”
Taylor Washington, 24, will be one of the youngest members of Nashville SC. Drafted 23rd overall in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft by Philadelphia Union, Washington played on loan with USL club Bethlehem Steel in 2016. Last season, Washington made 29 appearances for the USL’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds contributing to the clubs’ eight clean sheets.
While in college at George Mason, Washington helped lead the Patriots to the 2013 Atlantic 10 Championship and earned First-Team All-Conference honors.
Coach Smith's Thoughts: “Taylor is comfortable on either side of the field, as an outside back or wide midfielder. He has wonderful energy and enthusiasm, is bright in the attacking half of the field and tenacious in the defending half.”
Forward Michael Cox, 25, comes to Nashville already a professional soccer veteran. After turning professional at just 17 years old, Cox played for FC Edmonton in Canada, his home country, and Kuopion Palloseura in Finland’s Premier League.
The last two seasons, Cox has played in the USL for Orlando City B. He scored four minutes into his first game with Orlando City B and went on to lead the team in scoring in 2016 with 11 goals.
Coach Smith's Thoughts: “Michael is every defender’s nightmare. He has the ability to work as a target forward or use his explosive pace to break beyond defenses. Without a doubt, he is a big talent and exciting addition to our forward line.”