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Orange County SC 2018 Player Postmortem: Koji Hashimoto

Midfielder contributed to USL side’s best season ever.

Liza Rosales / Liza Rosales Photography

Koji Hashimoto was Orange County SC’s attempt at a big splash move for the 2018 season. Following the investment made by Japanese superstar Keisuke Honda in the offseason, OCSC signed a Japanese player in Hashimoto to cast a wider net in bringing quality and attention to the club.

While the midfielder didn’t have the global profile of Honda, it’s hard to necessarily find that for a USL team — Didier Drogba and Joe Cole were exceptions, not the rule, in this era of the league. But Hashimoto, who had spent his entire career playing in his native country, in both the top flight and second division, was touted as a dead ball specialist and maybe not the most dynamic player, but one who was steady.

Hashimoto OCSC 2018 statistics

2018 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2018 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
USL Regular Season 21 11 927 1 3 15 11 3 0
U.S. Open Cup 1 1 90 0 1 0 0 0 0
USL Playoffs 2 0 43 1 0 1 1 0 0
Total 24 12 1,060 2 4 16 12 3 0

In the end, Hashimoto played a little over 1,000 minutes for the season and was decent. He dealt with injury in the middle of the year, and with Aodhan Quinn having a monster season as the campaign wore on, Hashimoto’s absence wasn’t as notable for the team.

And while he took a lot of the free kicks early in the season and hit a terrific goal in April, Quinn took over that role over the course of the season.

Still, it was a nice goal:

Interestingly, Hashimoto also scored Orange County’s final goal of 2018, in what was a consolation tally in the Western Conference final loss against Phoenix Rising FC, but it did give OC faint hope they could come back. That he scored, off the bench and from the run of play was a bit unexpected, but he remained a steady player until the end of the campaign.

Was Hashimoto a star for Orange County SC? No, but with the likes of Thomas Enevoldsen and Aodhan Quinn putting up USL MVP-caliber seasons, he didn’t necessarily have to be. Did his arrival lead to an influx of Japanese soccer fans or increased attention of the club in Japan? I don’t think so in a measurable sense. I think it was a good signing, and he played a part in the team’s best season, he speaks English so he could communicate with his teammates, and he seemed to fit in well with the squad.

He said after the final game that he wanted to stay with Orange County next year, but he would need to talk to the club to see if it would work out. It seems like a sign that it was a pleasant season for him, that he wants to come back, and we’ll see if Hashimoto will remain in OC for the 2019 season.

What do you think? Leave a comment below!