Japanese international and free agent Keisuke Honda is currently training with local USL side Orange County SC. The news first emerged in the Japanese press, with Nikkan Sports reporting Honda would be training with the club this week.
This report has been confirmed by Angels on Parade, who asked Orange County SC for comment on it on Monday morning. A club spokesperson confirmed Honda is training with the team “as part of his off-season training that he is conducting in the U.S.” When asked if the training stint meant a signing was imminent, the spokesperson responded, “he is also here to learn more about Orange County SC.”
It’s not altogether surprising that Honda is in Southern California right now. In addition to being a free agent at the moment, after his contract with Italian giants AC Milan ended, Honda has been putting down roots in the area. There were once rumors he might play a role as an owner in a mooted NASL expansion team, although the two announced Southern California expansion teams, in Orange County and San Diego, do not appear to include him as an investor. But Honda has opened an academy in the region, SOLTILO FC, as part of a global network.
Honda has also been linked to a move to MLS in recent months. While the apparent interest in Southern California will surely fuel the fires for LA Galaxy or Los Angeles Football Club speculation, Honda was more concretely linked to the Seattle Sounders this past winter.
Pretty much any player out of contract is especially attractive to MLS sides, and there is that official partnership between Orange County SC and LAFC. Does that mean anything? Or is Honda just here to take things in and get a few days of training with a living, breathing pro soccer team? Is there any chance he’ll play for Orange County in USL? We’ll have to stay tuned on that.
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