Sacramento soccer king Iwasa announces he’s retiring

Sacramento Republic’s all-time leading scorer, Cameron Iwasa, will retire after the team’s last game of the season Saturday. The team announced the forward’s retirement in a news release Monday afternoon.

“It has truly been a dream to be able to play for the club in my hometown,” Iwasa said in the news release. “I couldn’t have asked for a better experience in my six seasons with the team. It’s been a blessing to be able to have my career unfold with my closest family and friends having a front row seat for it all.”

Iwasa, 28 years old, is close to soccer royalty in the Sacramento area. Before joining the Quails, Iwasa led an all-time great Jesuit High School team to a 31-0 record in 2010-11, his senior year.

As a Jesuit junior and senior, his team won back-to-back section championships and reached No.2 in the national rankings. He scored 42 goals in his senior year. He was also a talented baseball player, hitting .384 with 51 RBIs in two seasons of varsity play.

After four years at Cal Irvine, Iwasa came back to Sacramento’s USL team in 2015. In seven USL seasons, six with Sacramento, Iwasa scored 59 goals. Barring an incredible outburst Saturday, Iwasa will finish in eighth place on the league’s all-time scoring list. His 57 goals with Republic FC are tied for second-most in USL Championship play with one club. He has twice been named to the All-League Second Team (2016 and 2018); he was named the league’s player of the month three times.

“Cam has had a tremendous career and has made an indelible mark on this city and this club,” said Republic President Todd Dunivant. “His contributions on and off the field have elevated our club, created many of our most celebrated moments, and he will always be synonymous with the Republic.”

Iwasa tried to make the jump to MLS play in 2017, when he signed with Sporting Kansas City. But a preseason injury derailed those hopes, he told The Bee in 2018.

“When I made the jump to MLS, it was ideally to be permanent and to carve out a successful career,” Iwasa said. “I was doing well in the preseason then I pulled my right hamstring trying to prove myself during two-a-days and overexerted.”

Kansas City got off to a hot start without Iwasa and sent him to the team-owned USL club, where he was used as a substitute.

He rejoined Sacramento Republic in 2018 and cemented his status as a team legend. He had 17 goals in 2018 and 16 more in 2019 as he rocketed up the all-time scoring lists.

His 2021 season was hampered by a hamstring injury before the season started. It took a month for Iwasa to earn back a starting spot, but he’s been his typical self. Iwasa likes to collect dangerous balls in the penalty box and maintain possession while defenders flail at him to shoo him away. Then, when the defenders are out of the way, he often chips the ball into the net for a simple-looking goal.

Any player would tell you it’s not easy to maintain composure, and possession, while defenders are hacking away. For more than a decade, Iwasa made it look natural. Republic will celebrate Iwasa’s career at Saturday’s final game of the year.

The team encouraged fans to use the hashtag #ThankYouCam to submit favorite stories, memories, photos and videos of Iwasa. Fans at Saturday’s game will get a commemorative cheer card. Fans at the game will win Iwasa-related prizes and Republic gear. There will be a ceremony to honor Iwasa before kickoff.

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James Patrick has covered the beer scene from Maine to California. (OK, mostly just those two.) He’s worked at newspapers in six states as a sports reporter, sports editor, social media editor and newspaper carrier. He’s as comfortable drinking a High Life as a wild-fermented raspberry sour.

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