Japanese World Cup champion Yuki Nagasato will join men's club Hayabusa Eleven of the Kanagawa Prefecture League in Japan. The Chicago Red Stars announced the loan with the Japanese side on Wednesday, which will end prior to the 2021 NWSL season.
While it remains to be seen if Nagasato will play for the Men's side, her intentions are to do so. She has a personal connection to the club through her older brother, Genki, who plays with the team as well. Hayabusa currently plays in the second division of the Kanagawa league, one of nearly 50 regional prefecture leagues that operate numerous tiers below the J-League. Nagasato will be the first woman to play for the club.
Nagasato arrived in Chicago back in 2017, it was a move that symbolized a potential style change for a Red Stars team that otherwise played a very direct American notion of soccer. A 2011 World Cup Champion with Japan, Nagasato has made 52 NWSL appearances with the Red Stars.
Providing vision and technical ability on the ball, Nagasato's 2019 season earned her NWSL Second XI honors as she ended the year with eight goals, finishing among the league's top 10 goal-scorers. Her eight assists in 2019 led the entire league.
The 33-year-old forward made two appearances in Chicago's NWSL Challenge Cup group stage earlier this summer before suffering a minor left leg injury. She now joins Red Stars teammates Emily Boyd, Makenzy Doniak, Rachel Hill, Cassie Miller and Kayla Sharples among those already loaned to European professional women's teams.