It isn't difficult to see why Japanese midfielder Shintaro Harada has played at a high level during his long professional soccer career.

It is evident in his field savvy during games and abundantly clear after practice.

While other Colorado Springs Switchbacks cooled down after Monday's 90-minute session, the 34-year-old midfielder ran lines to work on his stamina.

Not that he needs it. His savvy keeps him in good position - seemingly with little effort - to make plays.

"That stems from the experience he has," coach Steve Trittschuh said. "When he became available I told (team operations director) Jeremy (Auyer) that we had to have him. He has been a great leader for us and role model for the younger players."

Harada is playing well for the surging Switchbacks (8-5), who are tied for third in the Western Conference entering Wednesday's 7 p.m. home United Soccer League game against Orange County. The hosts are 8-3 in their past 11 USL contests after an 0-2 start.

"We have a chance at nine wins by the halfway point (of the 24-game regular season), which is better than I expected," Trittschuh said. The Switchbacks also are gunning for an eye-popping 5-0 USL record in June. Harada is a big reason why.

"Technically he is very sound and very dedicated to the game," roommate and forward Mike Seth said. "He takes good care of his body. He is a good guy to be around on and off the field."

Harada played in Japan for seven years and moved to the United States to join Crystal Palace Baltimore, a USL franchise that was affiliated with the Premier League's Crystal Palace. He garnered a three-month stint in London. His performance there gained him "Palace's Other Player of the Year" from the club's official magazine in 2009.

The veteran, who is in his 16th pro season and ninth in the United States, uses his pinpoint passing to create lanes for others while he speeds up or slows down the game.

"That is my role on the Switchbacks," Harada said. "We are doing well (tied for second in the league with 26 goals) because I have good players to get the ball to. I get a lot of instruction from the coaches and am still learning a lot from them."

Trittschuh hopes that includes learning to pace himself better as the temperature climbs this summer. The coach played professionally until he was 36 and knows that older legs can tire during the dog days.

"I like how hard he works, but I am happy I have been able to get the 30-somethings some time off during some games so far because we will need him later," Trittschuh said.

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