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Legendary Japanese coach joins Pacific FC

Greater Victoria native Sean Young is also set to make it 100th appearance with the club this weekend
Legendary Japanese soccer player Kengo Nakamura is joining Pacific FC’s coaching staff. (@pacificfootballclub/Instagram)

Pacific FC fans can see a Japanese soccer legend in sideline action as former professional player Kengo Nakamura joins the local club as a temporary coach.

The Canadian Premier League (CPL) club based in Langford added Kengo Nakamura to the staff on Thursday (April 18) as he completes his Japan Football Association Class S coaching licence, the highest level of coaching in Japan.

Nakamura played midfield for 18 seasons for Kawasaki Frontale in Japan’s J. League making 546 appearances and serving as club captain from 2012 to 2017. In 2016, Nakamura was named MVP and Japanese Footballer of the Year. He retired in 2020 at age 40 and has since worked in media relations for the J. League.

Nakamura will shadow Pacific FC’s coaching staff that includes assistant coaches Armando Sa and Chris Merriman.

“We welcome Kengo to our club, this is an opportunity to host a player with great experience,” Pacific FC head coach James Merriman said in a press release. “We will learn from each-other, he will join our staff and share his knowledge with our players.”

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Nakamura will be pitch-side for Pacific FC’ s upcoming home match on Friday (April 19) against Valour FC, the same night Sean Young becomes the club’s first player to reach 100 appearances in all competitions.

The local club recently extended Young’s contract to keep him with the Tridents for the 2025 and 2026 CPL seasons, with a club option for 2027.

Young signed his first pro contract with the Pacific FC Tridents in 2020. A product of the youth soccer system in Greater Victoria, having represented Bays United Youth Football Club, the Vancouver Island Wave Program and the Victoria Highlanders, he was the first local player to make the jump to the CPL.

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“As a homegrown player here on Vancouver Island, Sean is a clear example of the opportunity provide by the CPL for local players. We are proud of that legacy, and it is appropriate that he will become our first player to reach 100 games with Pacific,” Merriman said.

Last year, Young tallied a total of 2,432 minutes, contributing four goals and four assists.

Pacific FC also signed defender Eric Lajeunesse to a U SPORTS contract for the 2024 CPL season, after retaining his U SPORTS rights during the 2023 season. Lajeunesse, 21, is a second-year University of British Columbia student who played 522 minutes for the Tridents last season after he was selected by the club with the sixth overall pick in the 2023 draft. He lined up for Pacific at both centre and left back, starting four matches.

“Eric showed his potential last season, we put him into difficult games, and he quickly adapted to the level,” Merriman said. “He’s physical, has a strong mentality and great character.”

Pacific FC also signed Juan Quintana, 20, to a one-year contract plus two options, which could keep him with the club through the 2026 season.

Standing six feet tall, and known for his speed and ball, the Colombian centre back has played professionally for Orsomarso SC in Palmira, Western Colombia since 2021.

“Quintana is ball-winning central defender with good physicality who can play anywhere across our back line,” Merriman said. “He is an extremely motivated young player with good experience, a strong mentality and a high potential to develop.”

The Pacific FC Tridents host Valour Friday at 7 p.m. at Starlight Stadium in Langford.