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Ghanaian representation in MLS soars as 2017 season commences


The 2017 Major League Soccer (MLS) commences this weekend with an upsurge in Ghana’s representation in the league after several high profile moves.

There are, at least, 15 known Ghanaians and a number of other players with various Ghanaian backgrounds in the league, and this is enough reason why Ghanaians should follow the upcoming MLS season.

Columbus Crew SC lead the pack of clubs with Ghanaian players with four players – Harrison Afful (INT'L), Jonathan Mensah (DP, INT'L), Mohammed Abu (INT'L) and Lalas Abubakar (INT'L).

DC United will still count on their three official Ghanaian players – Kofi Opare (HG), Patrick Nyarko and Lloyd Sam – who helped them to the Postseason last year.

David Accam (DP) will continue from where he left off last season with Chicago Fire while Dominic Oduro, (INT'L) continues his exploits with Montreal Impact.

Emmanuel Boateng (INT'L) remains an integral member of LA Galaxy with Abu Danladi (GA, INT'L) joining the league as the first overall pick of the 2017 SuperDraft. He is expected to bang in the goals for expansion side Minnesota United.

Latif Blessing (INT'L) who emerged as the Best Player for the 2015/16 Ghana Premier League has also joined the MLS and will help push his new club Sporting Kansas City to higher heights. Sporting KC acquired the 20-year old Ghanaian winger as a discovery signing.

Young midfielder Bismark Adjei-Boateng (INT'L) is also joining MLS side Colorado Rapids from Manchester City.

However, two Ghanaian defenders Gideon Baah (INT'L) of New York Red Bulls and Joshua Yaro (GA, INT'L) of Philadelphia Union are yet to recover fully and are not expected to start the season.

Baah is still recuperating from an injury he sustained last season while Yaro sustained a shoulder injury during preseason and may be out of action for the next three months or so.

Apart from Josh Yaro, Philadelphia Union still have some players with some Ghanaian backgrounds in the persons of Derrick Jones (Born in Kumasi) and CJ Sapong (an American with Ghanaian parents).

Other players with some Ghanaian linkages in the league include Chris Odoi-Atsem of DC United, Richmond Laryea (GA, INT'L playing as a Canadian) for Orlando City SC and Kofi Sarkodie (an American with Ghanaian background) playing for San Jose Earthquakes.

Kwame Awuah, 21, is a Canadian with Ghanaian background, who has signed for New York City FC. According to NYCFC, Awuah, who is a product of UCONN, will occupy a domestic roster spot as part of the Generation Adidas Canada initiative – a joint taskforce between MLS and the Canadian Soccer Association.

LA Galaxy’s Gyasi Zardes is officially an American player but he still falls in the category of players with various Ghanaian backgrounds.

For various reasons, Ghana Soccer US (www.ghsoccerus.net) is anticipating an increase in the number of Ghanaians in the MLS. The likes of Brian Nana-Sinkam and Dominic Oduro are among the unsigned draft picks for Seattle Sounders while Emmanuel Appiah is on the trial list of New England Revolution.

Meanwhile, Atlanta United has once again loaned young Jeffrey Otoo to Charleston Battery in the USL and could recall him anytime.

Two season opening games with nine Ghanaians

There are several season opening pairings with Ghanaian involvement but two of such games are likely to feature nine Ghanaians on Saturday as David Accam’s Chicago Fire play as guests of Columbus Crew SC who could hand different roles to Harrison Afful, Jonathan Mensah, Mohammed Abu and Lalas Abubakar.

At the RFK Stadium, DC United’s trio Kofi Opare, Patrick Nyarko and Lloyd Sam will offer a welcome party to Ghanaian compatriot and MLS rooky Latif Blessing when DC play host to Sporting Kansas City.
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