For Colorado Rapids technical director Paul Bravo, the last thing he expected earlier this week was longtime defender Kosuke Kimura to come into his office and request a move.
But after six years and an MLS Cup in Colorado, Kimura did exactly that. And by Thursday, Kimura was on his way to Portland.
The Rapids shipped the unhappy 28-year-old to the Timbers for an international spot and allocation money, a move that Bravo and Colorado said they didn’t want to make, but felt they had to. Kimura didn’t make the 18-man roster in each of the Rapids’ last two games.
Kimura speaks to media after first Timbers' practice
“We didn’t go out looking for a trade,” Bravo told MLSsoccer.com by phone on Friday. “We did have some conversations, and Kosuke came into my office a couple of days ago and said a change might be good for him. We weren’t looking to move Kosuke.”
"I talked to my agent a couple of times and I talked to Paul Bravo, and we had a really good conversation two days ago actually," Kimura told Portland-based website StumpTownFooty.com on Thursday. "He said he has no interest in trading me and I talked to him and said it is not working out for me well and I think it might be time for me to go and he said, "Alright Kosuke, here is the thing, if you don't really get a good deal, we can't let you go. You have done so much for the club and it is going to be tough for us."
A 34-game starter for the Rapids in 2011, Kimura – who was originally drafted by the Rapids in the 2007 Supplemental Draft – found himself increasingly out of favor in Rapids head coach Oscar Pareja’s lineup. The Japanese right back started each of the Rapids’ first eight games, only to fall behind veteran Hunter Freeman in the pecking order in recent weeks.
“I got the sense that he was looking for a little bit more stability as far as playing time with the emergence of Hunter over the past few weeks, where Kosuke hasn’t been in the 18 in the past few games,” Bravo said. “That, along with the fact that Kosuke has a contract at the end of the year and he was looking at it for an opportunity to market himself, I would imagine. You’ve got to respect that.”
Aside from moving an unsettled player, the trade offered the Rapids flexibility to make an additional move, and Bravo pinpointed Colorado’s struggling defense as a particular potential area of need.
“This certainly gives us flexibility and that’s the important factor here,” Bravo said. “We have some needs we’re looking to address at this point. This does give us roster flexibility. It opens up a salary, it opens up the potential to bring in an international roster spot for us.”
“We’re always open to whatever move potentially makes us better. We’ve sent that consistent message through the preseason and throughout the season. I think we’re comfortable with the group that we have in the attacking positions. Is there a player out there to help us? You know, we’ve had difficulty defending out of the identity we want to create, and if there are players out there that we think can help us in that area, then that’s certainly something we’re looking at.”
Chris Bianchi covers the Colorado Rapids for MLSsoccer.com.