On episode 8 of the Free Kicks Report podcast, Patrick Nyarko, DC United midfielder and former Chicago Fire vet joins the show.
For over the past decade Patrick Nyarko has been creating attacking opportunities along the flanks. First with Chicago Fire, and now with DC United, Nyarko has 24 career goals, 49 career assists, and has appeared in 236 matches. Patricks comes on the podcast to talk through his career from growing up in Ghana to the chance meeting that led to his time at Virginia Tech to his experiences in MLS.
He also was at the start of a growing trend of Ghanaian nationals joining MLS. In 2007 when he was drafted out of Virginia Tech, he was just the 7th player in the league from Ghana. Today, MLS boasts well over 30 who have played across the league, including many impactful names in recent years – Dominic Oduro, Emmanuel Boateng, David Accam, Lloyd Sam, Harris Afful.
At Virginia Tech, he not only took the program to new heights but is still regarded as the school’s best player. Nyarko has 31 goals and 24 assists over three years, leading the Hokies to the NCAA College Cup final in 2007. He was also a finalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy that season.
When D.C. United acquired Patrick Nyarko before the beginning of the 2016 season, he fast became one of the most important offensive players on the team. With his pace and his knack for finding the open man for a goal, he helped keep the offense motoring throughout the season. However, it was our very own Steven Streff who noted that for 2017, “[c]oncussions will be a cause for concern for the winger,” and unfortunately he was correct.
Nyarko missed the last 13 matches of the season due to a concussion that was discovered after he suffered a scratch cornea against the Houston Dynamo on July 22nd. Persistent symptoms caused him to miss the rest of the season due to that concussion. Nyarko also missed 7 games early in the season due to a hamstring injury, and because of that he struggled on the season.
Nyarko played in 14 games (12 starts), tallying 1 goal and 2 assists in 1028 minutes. Both his assists came in back-to-back road matches, against Dallas on July 4th and at Seattle on July 19th. His one goal was an important one, a game winner against Atlanta United on June 21st.
When Nyarko was in the game and on the wings, he added a speed element that many of our other options could not provide. He also has terrific passing ability and that was missing in the attacking third, where he could find open men in the box for scores. Coming back from the hamstring injury, he was a step slower and not quite as crisp with his passing. That could be attributed to rust, but his presence on the wing was missed down the stretch, and it seems that he will need more time to fully recover from this most recent concussion.
Patrick Nyarko made a base salary of $235,000 (guaranteed salary $250,750) this season, and the multiple concussions (at least 3 since he joined the Black-and-Red) have got to be a concern. Still, if he can fully recover, his speed and ability to create scoring chances will be useful on a team that couldn’t muster a lot of offense in 2017. Alright, you know the drill by now: