By Daniel Cermak/NPSL.com
Former Kitsap Pumas and FC Motown midfielder Kodai Iida has joined OKC Energy FC of the
USL Championship for the 2020 season.
“I was so happy to sign with (OKC Energy FC) because I struggled to get to where I am today,”
Iida said. “Before I signed with Kitsap, I tried out for about 10 teams, but I didn’t make any of
them. Then, once I signed for Kitsap, I was injured badly and had to go back to Japan in the
middle of the season and find a part-time job. The next year, I played in a Seattle state league,
but once that season finished, I went back to Japan to the part-time job. In 2019 I earned a spot
on Halifax and now I’m with OKC Energy FC, and I couldn’t be happier after all I’ve been
Iida, a 25-year-old midfielder, hails from Ishikawa, Japan and began his playing career with
Yamanashi Gakuin University in Kofu, Yamanashi Preference. Following that opportunity, he
joined Kitsaps Pumas for the 2017 NPSL season that was unfortunately cut short due to injury.
After a return to Japan, Iida joined the NPSL’s FC Motown, and played with them in both the
NPSL and the Garden State Soccer League. The experience at FC Motown was a special one for
Iida, helping him both on and off the pitch.
“It was a great time for me and my first time with a foreign team,” Iida said. “I couldn't speak
English whatsoever but my teammates were great and the staff as well. I’m especially
appreciative of FC Motown’s owner, Dan Karosen. He gave me an English conversation
program that I was able to use for two months. I learned a lot of things about the game from FC
Motown and the NPSL. It was a great time.”
FC Motown head coach Sacir Hot was extremely impressed with Iida, especially at his
performance against NYCFC and a pair of soccer legends.
“Kodai was one of the most dynamic players in the history of our club,” Hot said. “When we scrimmaged the NYCFC team with David Villa and Andrea Pirlo, Kodai was the player who made an impression with their brain trust. We aren't surprised that Kodai has had considerable success moving up the ladder given his considerable talents and work ethic."
Following his time with FC Motown, Iida signed with Halifax of the Canadian Premier League
(CPL). During his time with Halifax, Iida assisted a goal five times across all competitions and
was regarded as a fan favorite by Halifax supporters. In addition to his five assists, Iida scored
a screamer of a goal in his final match with the club, a strike that was nominated for CPL Goal of
the Season by OneSoccer. For Iida, his first full experience as a professional was a special one.
“The CPL was good. That was the first year in the league, but they had a great stadium
atmosphere, fans, and team environment,” Iida said. “I’m really appreciative of the CPL and
HFX Wanderers. They gave me my first professional opportunity.”
As an attacking midfielder that can also play the number 9, Iida tries to create as many
opportunities for his teammates as possible. His favorite element that he brings to his team is
being able to create plays for his teammates in the attack, and focuses his game on his dribbling
and quickness. This year once Energy FC resume play, Iida is looking to use his skills to help
the squad in any way he can and excite the fans.
“I want to contribute any way I can to help this team,” Iida said. “We are here to win and
celebrate with the OKC supporters at the end of the season.”
With an exciting player and fan favorite in Iida, Energy FC have a great player to garner
excitement for the eventual restart of the soccer season.
Photo Credit: Steven Christy and James O’Rourke