How great is it to see Cameron Iwasa back in Old Glory Red? Through the first two games of the season, Iwasa has certainly made his presence felt on the pitch.
In the home-opener against San Antonio FC, he delivered an incredible through ball to Keven Alemán who hammered home the first goal of the season, and then last Saturday against Orange County SC, Iwasa was back at it again, this time with a tremendous individual goal to give the Republic a 1-0 lead, and ultimately, three points on the road.
Give credit (and the assist) to Alemán on the play. You might say he was returning the favor from the week prior. But make no mistake about it. Iwasa rescued the Republic from what was up to that point, a pretty blah match (keeper Josh Cohen also played the role as rescuer, and for the second-consecutive week, made some fantastic saves).
So yeah, it’s good to have Iwasa back. After his incredible 2016 season with the Republic where he set a franchise record in goals (12) and was named to the USL All-League Second Team, it was great to see him sign his first MLS contract with Sporting Kansas City.
While that ultimately didn’t work out for him (he played on loan from Sporting Kansas City with Swope Park Rangers in 2017), Iwasa doesn’t seem to be fazed by last season. In fact, it looks like it has made him that much of a better player. Dare I say leader? He said as much when I caught up with him a few months ago after he re-signed with the Republic.
“Just disappointment,” said Iwasa. “I had a lot of high hopes. Obviously, it was a great opportunity for me to get a chance to sign with an MLS team. I had a couple of unfortunate incidents. I went down with an injury in pre-season and that kind of hindered me a bit and I never quite bounced back from it. So it’s definitely disappointing reflecting on it, but at the same time I learned and grew a lot. I actually feel like I improved as a player just being around some of the guys that played with the National Team, and not just the U.S. National Team, but other National Teams. So I just learned from them, particularly from a team camaraderie, leadership side of things.”
It will be fun to see what damage Iwasa will inflict on opposing back lines this season. Listed at 5-10 and 180 pounds, he is a handful to deal with. I recently had a conversation with someone on the Republic staff (who played against him in high school), and they were saying how strong of a player he is, and joked that he was just as strong in high school.
But more than being a headache for the opposition, I am excited to see him continue to emerge into a leadership role for the Club. You see the word “leadership” thrown out from Republic’s front office when talking about Iwasa, and we’re clearly seeing it on the pitch both in terms of his play and how emotionally charged he’s been out there.
Make no mistake about it. Re-signing the native Sacramentan was a boon for the Republic and the 2018 season. Now let’s sit back and enjoy the heck out of it, because really the sky’s the limit for Cam. Oh, and drop a vote for him to ensure that he wins USL Goal of the Week.