December 13, 2015
Kwadwo Poku deserves to start for NYC FC
By Michael Lewis
Kwadwo Poku has earned a regular spot in NYC FC's Starting XI, Michael Lewis writes.
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
His coaching duties officially don't start until the beginning of the new year, but Patrick Vieira had to be impressed with at least New York City FC player during the team's 2-1 friendly win over the Puerto Rican national team Friday night:
If it wasn't for his stoppage time goal, I would be talking about a 1-1 draw. Heck, I might not even be writing this column at all.
It goes beyond that goal and result; Poku is a special player.
Quite simply, the 23-year-old makes things happen, giving opposing midfielders, defenders and goalkeepers massive migraines and giving his side an opportunity to celebrate goals, whether he starts or comes off the bench.
Your truly feels Ghanaian native should start.
If you have any problem with that assessment, just take a look at the numbers:
His seven assists ranked second on the club.
His four goals ranked fourth on the team.
It's not that he played all that much. Poku saw but 978 minutes of action, which includes six starts and 27 Major League Soccer appearances (if you extrapolate his stats over a full season, that would could out to an impressive 12 goals and 21 assists).
And that doesn't include the two goals he tallied against the Cosmos when City was eliminated from the Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup on June 17.
Yes, I know the team is spending an arm and a leg on the likes of aging midfielders Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo, whose marquee names are expected to attract fans.
But you know what attracts fans as well?
And attractive soccer.
Make that exciting soccer.
And I can't think of any one pro player in the metropolitan area who creates as much excitement and goals on the field than Kwadwo Poku.
So, it must be Patrick Vieira's charge to find a spot for Poku in the lineup.
It's nice having big names in the Starting XI.
It's nicer to have players who can make an impact and excite the fans as well.
Just how many players do you know in American pro soccer who can accomplish that?
Only a handful of players and Kwadwo Poku is one of them.
Vieira and City cannot afford to waste this opportunity and his talent.