NAKAZAWA'S PATIENCE REWARDED

Kyle Nakazawa waited patiently during the MLS SuperDraft.

It wasn’t easy.

But that lesson has helped him as Philadelphia Union’s inaugural season has unfolded. 

During the SuperDraft, Nakazawa was the 33rd player chosen, taken by Philadelphia Union with the first pick in the third round.

Last Saturday, Team Manager Peter Nowak called on Nakazawa to play for 29 minutes during the club’s 3-1 loss to the L.A. Galaxy at the Home Depot Center.

“It felt great to be out there in front of my friends and family,” said Nakazawa, a midfielder and forward who played collegiately at UCLA. “I have been very patient. It started at the SuperDraft, where it wasn’t easy to wait to hear my name called. I have been working really hard and I was very happy to have my name called to play against the Galaxy. It was special. I’m looking forward to even bigger and better things.”

The 21-year-old Nakazawa joined Philadelphia Union from UCLA along with college teammates Amobi Okugo and Brian Perk. Nakazawa was a 2009 semifinalist for the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy, First-Team NSCAA All-American and All-Far West, First-team All-Pac-10 and honorable mention Pac-10 All-Academic honoree.

Nakazawa finished the season leading the Pac-10 in points (31), and ranked second in goals scored (12) and points per game (1.55). The midfielder was in the U.S. Under-20 National Team pool, as well as a member of the U.S. U-17 residency program and starter on the U-17 Team that placed fifth at the FIFA World Youth Championships in 2005, where he scored two goals with one assist in four games at the WYC. Nakazawa led all U-17 players in 2005 in assists (13) and games started (37 of 38) and ranked fourth with 10 goals.

This is a whole new challenge, one that he has embraced from the beginning.

“I’m taking things day-by-day and learning as much as I can,” Nakazawa said. “We have a very young team and I’m one of the young players. We have focused extremely hard every day on getting better and trying to improve every day.

“It’s a lot different than college. So far, the level of competition has been very high. I know the fans here in Philadelphia have high expectations and we are working hard every day for them. I think we have a chance to be very good. The technical staff has done a great job working with us.”

Nakazawa sees a club with immense potential.

“We know we have to be patient, and it’s not easy,” he said. “I have learned how to be patient. But I also know we have the ability to win games and I’m excited about being a part of this club.”