This is Part 13 in a series of players who will play for the Los Angeles Galaxy in 2012.
What is a hometown hero? According to Urban Dictionary, it is "A person who achieves small time fame for teenage stories from High School, and who eventually fades into obscurity. Essentially, it is someone who reaches the pinnacle of their life at 18."
While the credibility of such a pessimistic definition is up for debate, Kyle Nakazawa's best days may be right in front of him. The UCLA product is in his third season in Major League Soccer, and it is with one of the marquee clubs in the league in the Los Angeles Galaxy.
Kyle Nakazawa was born on Mar. 16, 1988 in Torrance, Calif. However, Nakazawa spent most of his childhood in nearby Rancho Palos Verdes, attending Palos Verdes Peninsula High School from 2002-2003.
His skills as a midfielder were good enough to place him in the U.S. Under-17 residency program. Nakazawa also spent his youth soccer career with the Irvine Strikers from 2003 to 2006.
In 2006, Nakazawa began a storied career playing for Jorge Salcedo's UCLA Bruins. He was selected to the Soccer America and Top Drawer Soccer All-Freshman first teams and to College Soccer News' All-Freshman second team after starting all 24 matches for UCLA, who progressed all the way to the College Cup Semifinals.
Nakazawa recorded eight assists and was fourth in scoring with 16 points. In addition, Nakazawa was an Honorable mention All-Pac-10 honoree that year.
A second-team All-Pac-10 selection in 2007, Nakazawa started all 21 games for the Bruins. He ranked second on the UCLA squad in scoring with 13 points, led the Pac-10 with seven assists and tied for third on the team with three goals.
2008 was a tough season for Nakazawa, as a back injury reduced him to 10 appearances. 2009 proved to be much better for him, as he became a first-team NSCAA All-American and All-Far West selection. Nakazawa finished the season leading the Pac-10 in points (31), and ranked second in goals scored (12) and points per game (1.55). He was also a semifinalist for the M.A.C. Hermann Trophy.
In between stints with the Bruins, Nakazawa spent time with the San Fernando Valley Quakes in 2007 and the Los Angeles Legends in 2009. He also was a member of the Los Angeles Galaxy Under-20 team.
Nakazawa was selected as the 33rd overall selection by the Philadelphia Union. 2010 was a year of firsts for Nakazawa; first appearance on May 1, 2010, in a match against his current club Los Angeles Galaxy, first professional start on May 8, 2010 at Real Salt Lake, and first professional goal on May 28, 2011, in the Union's 6-2 victory over Toronto FC.
In 2011, Nakazawa saw increased playing time for the Union, starting 11 of 22 matches played for a total of 1,308 minutes of action.
On February 1, 2012, Kyle Nakazawa was acquired by the Galaxy in exchange for an international player roster spot. With the move, Nakazawa is reunited with UCLA Bruins Michael Stephens and Brian Perk.
Sure, Kyle Nakazawa may not fit the description of the archetypal hometown hero as defined by the Urban Dictionary. But with the opportunity to shine in familiar surroundings, this midfielder may be redefining the phrase as we know it.