Pacific Rim Cup Offers Unique Experience for Hawaiian Soccer Players

The Pacific Rim Cup kicks off on Friday at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu, Hawaii, and Real Salt Lake put the final touches in its preparations for that first match on Thursday.  RSL Head Coach Mike Petke split the team into two groups – one of players slated to start the match on Friday and the other made up primarily of players who will start in the second match of the tournament on Sunday.  While one group went through the paces of going through the game plan for the first official match of preseason after two scrimmages over the last two weeks, the other played small-sided games to close out the session.

After training, the festivities surrounding the Pacific Rim Cup started around Honolulu.  RSL captain Kyle Beckerman joined players from Vancouver Whitecaps FC, V-Varen Nagasaki and Iwaki FC to meet with local media and a youth team slated to play in an All-Star event.

With a captive audience, Beckerman pondered the start of his 20th season in Major League Soccer and reflected on the progression he’s made in his career since first signing with the Miami Fusion at 18 years old in 2000.

“It’s just a lot of hard work, a lot of dreams and then trying to go chase those dreams.  Once you get there, it’s just the start of it,” Beckerman said.  “So from year one, I tried to soak up as much as I could from the guys that I looked up to and respected.  Then it was just about maintaining and working hard and trying to improve.  Even in year number 20 I’m trying to improve and trying to do better.”

With those lessons in mind, players from each of the four participating teams put on a clinic at Aloha Stadium in a sold-out event for local youth players.  RSL youngsters Luis Arriaga, Julian Vazquez and Kyle Coffee visited with over 200 kids, putting them through drills and offering advice.  On an island of just under one-million residents in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the opportunity to train side-by-side with professional players was a rare occurrence and one that the children embraced with excitement.

- Photo courtesy Taka Masouda/Pacific Rim Cup

Real Salt Lake’s match with Iwaki FC kicks off at 5:30 p.m. HT (8:30 p.m. MT) on Friday, with the final match of the tournament coming Sunday from Aloha Stadium.