Vancouver Whitecaps' Hirano will not return
Vancouver Whitecaps FC announced today that left fullback Takashi Hirano will not return for the 2011 season.
"Takashi has been an outstanding professional during his three seasons with the club," said head coach Teitur Thordarson. "In addition to his many contributions on the field, he was a great ambassador off the field. We wish him the very best in all his future endeavours."
Hirano, 36, joined the club on March 12, 2008, following 15 seasons in Japan's J.League Division One. His first season with the Blue and White saw him named to the United Soccer Leagues First Division (USL-1) All-League Second Team and claim the club's Newcomer of the Year award after helping Whitecaps FC to the 2008 USL-1 championship title.
In 2009, Hirano was named the club's Outstanding Defender after starting all but one of his 28 regular season appearances that year. This season, Hirano started four of his 17 appearances for 617 minutes of action. In three seasons with Whitecaps FC, Hirano started 63 of 85 total appearances for 5,950 minutes of action, scoring one goal and recording three assists.
Prior to his arrival in Vancouver, Hirano became one of 11 players to surpass the mark of 350 total appearances in J.League Division One. The native of Shimizu City, Japan, scored 54 career goals between 1993 and 2007. A former Japanese youth and senior international, Hirano was also a member of the Japan squad that made their first-ever appearance at a FIFA World Cup when they qualified for the 1998 finals in France.