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Podolski, Villa And Iniesta’s Japanese Club To Tour SoCal Next Month

Better than the International Champions Cup and probably 100 times cheaper.

A Japanese club going on a preseason tour of California wouldn’t usually set the pulse racing, but Vissel Kobe is no ordinary J1 League side. After signing former NYCFC striker David Villa back on Dec. 1, the Ushi (Cows) now boast a lineup that also includes former Barcelona star Andres Iniesta and German legend Lukas Podolski.

Yes, Villa (37), Iniesta (34) and Podolski (33) are in the twilight of their respective careers, but all have shown recently that class is permanent, and it’s not everyday that a side with three World Cup-winners graces us stateside.

Iniesta Assisting Podolski In November 

Iniesta’s First Goal In Japan

Iniesta’s Second

Iniesta’s Third

Villa Free Kick From September

Vissel Kobe will begin play with a match against the Columbus Crew at the Championship Soccer Stadium in Irvine, California, on Jan. 28 at 7 p.m. PT. Next, Iniesta and company will play LAFC at its home ground of Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles on Jan. 31 at 7 p.m. PT. Finally, Vissel Kobe will head back to Irvine to play Toronto FC on Feb. 2 at 7:30 p.m. PT. 

The 2019 MLS season begins on March 2. 

Last season, Villa scored 14 goals for NYCFC in 23 games. Podolski scored five goals and added six assists in 24 appearances during his second season in Japan. Iniesta had three goals and three assists in 14 appearances after joining the club last July following the World Cup. 

If you’re wondering how Vissel Kobe landed these three players, the club’s owner is Rakuten — the primary jersey sponsor of FC Barcelona and one of the world’s largest e-commerce sites. 

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