Nitto Tire U.S.A. Has Become the Sponsor of Japanese-American MLS Player, Kellyn Acosta

JapanUp! November Issue(vol.181)

He will Appear at FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

The Bond Found Between Acosta and the Japanese-American Society Through One Essay

On September 30, a press conference for LA-based Japanese media was held at the LAFC Performance Center in Los Angeles, which is the practice ground of the Major league soccer club, Los Angeles FC (LAFC).  Who is at the center of attention?  His name is Kellyn Acosta, a Japanese American soccer player.

Nitto Tire U.S.A., the global tire company established in Japan, has become a sponsor of Acosta this summer.  The conference was hosted by Nitto, with the support of LAFC and Acosta himself.

It was Friday afternoon when Acosta appeared straight out of his practice field among journalists with a smile.  He just finished his practice with his teammates.

Kellyn Acosta, the 27 years old player, was born in Plano, Texas in 1995.  His grandmother is Japanese, which makes him Japanese-American.  LAFC acquired him from the Colorado Rapids in February.  Now he has become not only the leading player of the team but also one of the star players who was selected as a member of the US national team for FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

When Acosta was transferred to LAFC, he also moved to LA.  Then, two Japanese guys reached out to Acosta: Mr. Yoshihiro Sano, the president of Pacific Alliance Group, and Mr. Tomoshige Mizutani, the chairman and the CEO of Nitto Tire U.S.A.  These two initiated the idea of the press conference in order to spread the name and pure spirit of Acosta to the Japanese community in LA.

Sano and Mizutani happened to read an essay that was written by Acosta himself.  In his essay, “Being Japanese American,” his honest thoughts were there: his background, his Japanese grandmother, the adolescent dilemma and distress, suffering from racism, the importance of facing his own identity, and his pride as a Japanese-American.  They were instantly impressed by his true voice and wanted to inspire many more people.

Interview with Kellyn Acosta

LAFC won the top spot in Western Conference.  Congrats!  Now, MLS CUP Playoffs have been held until Nov 5th.  What was this season like for you?

Thank you!  So far, so good.  I joined the LAFC this season.  I am so grateful to my coach and teammates for warmly welcoming me.  This is the place where I can play naturally and freely while learning a lot.  They show me respect not just as a member of the team, but also as a player.  My current biggest goal is to get the second trophy in the playoffs.

You are also a national member of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.  I imagine there have been so many difficulties and efforts to get to this point.  I’m curious where your strength comes from?

My strength comes from my family.  When things get tough, then I rely on them.  They are who I am.  They are the ones that help me in my dark times.  That strength is what I inherited from my grandma and my parents.

How do you like living in Los Angeles?  I saw that you participated in the Nisei Week Japanese Festival.

I have visited LA many times, but never experienced being connected with the Japanese and Asian community like this time.  I have hardly seen Asian and Japanese people in Texas and no Japanese-American community at all besides my family.  Being here… I mean LA is super-diverse and people are just amazing.  I can connect with Japanese culture.  It’s been truly special.  To answer your question, LA is great.

I heard you went to Little Tokyo with your family, right?

Yeah.  That was amazing.  I visited the Japanese American National Museum with my grandma and father.  That visit became not only an unforgettable memory but also the moment when I got to connect with grandma on a deeper level.  She shared stories that I haven’t even heard of with me.  She opened up about her childhood and her family, her experiences back in Japan, and how much she misses it.  That moment really made me feel proud of being Japanese-American.

Our JapanUp! readers are all connected to Japan in their own ways.  Would you please give them some messages?

In LA, there are Japanese people who come from Japan and Japanese Americans who were born here like me.  And they are moving their own lives forward while facing their own identity in their different culture.  You don’t have to think that you gotta be the same as others.  I think being unique is cool.  You wanna be different.  We all don’t wanna be the same because that’s vanilla and boring.

And I think it’s important to spread love and positivity, welcome those around you, and learn from other people with an open mind.  I’m sure that would make your life happier.

(From the left) Tomoshige Mizutani, the chairman and CEO of Nitto Tire U.S.A., Kellyn Acosta from LAFC, Yoshihiro Sano, the president of Pacific Alliance Group.

Kellyn Acosta will appear as a member of US national team

FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022

Let’s support Acosta!

Host country: Qatar

Date: 11/20 ~ 12/18/2022