It’s finally here — Real Salt Lake is all set to kick off their first match of the 2019 preseason. While the squad is in Hawaii escaping the snow and bitter cold of Utah, they’re gearing up for a two-game stint in their first-ever appearance in the Pacific Rim Cup, which features four teams.
Tonight they’ll square off against Japanese side Iwaki FC, who plays in the Fukushima Prefectural Football League. While they’re still just a regional side in a lower division, they don’t have any players that many would recognize. Apparently they do have one Japanese-American dual national in goalkeeper Timothy Shiraoka. Other than that, they have no ties to MLS or American soccer.
It’s apparent that Iwaki FC has hopes of reaching the J1 League someday, as they’re slowly climbing the ranks of professional Japanese football since their inception in 2012. They finished top of the table in 2015 and 2016, in both division 3 and division 2 of the Fukushima Prefectural league respectively. They now play in division 1.
As for the claret-and-cobalt, it’ll be interesting to see some of the new talent get some real playing time alongside the veterans. Midfielder Everton Luiz and striker Sam Johnson are a couple names who highlight the new additions to the roster, and it’s been a mystery as to how Mike Petke will field a lineup with the new guys.
We’ll typically get to see a rotation of everyone throughout the match, as these preseason games tend to go.
Now just 22 days away from their 2019 MLS season opener in Houston, RSL has been in Hawaii for most of the week preparing for their Pacific Rim Cup matches.
The winner between RSL and Iwaki FC will go on to face the winner of V-Varen Nagasaki, a Japanese J2-League side, and the Vancouver Whitecaps. Those two sides face off on Saturday, and the Pacific Rim Cup championship will be played on Sunday, February 10th.
Following the Hawaii leg of preseason, RSL will continue on to Tucson, Arizona, where they’ll take on the New York Red Bulls, Phoenix Rising FC, FC Dallas, and the Portland Timbers while they gear up for the regular season.
Watch live on YouTube
Tonight’s match against Iwaki FC will be streamed live on YouTube. Kickoff is set for 8:30PM MT, and info for the live stream can be found on the Pacific Rim Cup’s website.