With the Major League Soccer season right around the corner, there will be many players lacing up for a new team.
That list of players includes D.C. United’s newly acquired midfielder, Patrick Nyarko. I had the honor of sitting down with him to talk about his future in the nation’s capital.
The 30-year-old Nyarko was born in Kumasi, Ghana, where he lived up until his college years.
He moved to the United States to attend Virginia Tech, where he studied psychology and dominated on the field.
Patrick finished his college career third all-time in goals (31) and assists (24) and fourth in total points (86) at Virginia Tech. He left the school after three years and turned pro with the Chicago Fire, where he played for the last eight seasons.
Funny enough, Patrick did not grow up thinking he would make a career out of the sport. “Growing up I was a really good student…I was going to go to college in Ghana to do some sort of engineering,” Nyarko says, while reflecting on his journey thus far.
Good thing former Virginia Tech head coach Oliver Weiss went on that recruiting trip to Ghana. Weiss describes Nyarko as the most incredible player he’s ever coached.
The Chicago Fire traded Nyarko to D.C. United in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2016 MLS Super Draft.
“After a while in one place you tend to go through the motions,” says Nyarko on the big move. “I needed a change to refocus myself and ended up in D.C. this year.”
Washington D.C. isn’t unfamiliar territory to Patrick since he went to school five hours away. He says he spent some of his college breaks in nearby Alexandria, Virginia, which is only a 30-minute drive from the capital.
Looking forward to this year, the Ghanaian veteran aims to win the MLS Cup. Nyarko missed much of the 2015 season because of a knee injury. He says he feels stronger and through his rehab he has put himself in a good position to have a better season this year. “There are a lot of smart and experienced guys on the team and I’m here to help,” said Nyarko.
You can bet one of the big matches on his radar this year will be against the Fire. “It will be good going back to Chicago…they treated me really well and I had a good relationship with them. It was hard to leave but I’m excited,” Nyarko said with a huge smile on his face.
Patrick has enjoyed his time in the league playing against stars he looked up to growing up. “For my three favorite soccer players of all time, I have Thierry Henry, Ryan Giggs and Steven Gerrard. I’ve had the opportunity to play against two of them and might have an opportunity to play against the third one this Sunday,” he said. Steven Gerard better bring his A-game.
Talking to Patrick Nyarko made me see him for who he truly is, which is a humble athlete with championship aspirations. He prides himself on his ability to adjust to different situations and he’s ready to do that here with D.C. United.
Patrick will take the field this Sunday, March 6th, against the host LA Galaxy in southern California.
This blog post was written by VOA Intern Rick Narcisse.