Kwadwo Poku. The Six foot, One inch New York City Football Club cult hero. Last year he burst on to the Major League Soccer scene with his flashy footwork, eye catching performances, and lovable personality.
Poku’s story is a fascinating one originating in Kumasi, a city of about two million people in central Ghana. He began his soccer career there, at a club called Asante Kotoko SC. In late 2010, Poku moved to the US and finally landed with NPSL side Georgia Revolution, where he led the team in goals and assists.
Eventually, he was noticed by Eric Wynalda, then technical director of the now defunct Atlanta Silverbacks in the NASL. He began playing for the Silverbacks in 2014 and soon became one of Wynalda’s favorite players. Wynalda said Poku was one of the best NASL players and might even be of higher quality than the MLS.
In January 2015, Poku ended up moving to NYCFC after they acquired Poku’s MLS rights from Seattle Sounders FC in exchange for a 2017 SuperDraft pick. Poku appeared 27 times for NYCFC under Jason Kreis, mostly as an impact sub. He scored four goals and had seven assists in less than 1000 minutes. Kreis still had many criticisms for Poku. Kreis felt Poku was unmotivated, drifted too much in games, and wasn’t committed enough.
Although things looked optimistic when NYCFC switched managers to Patrick Vieira, Poku failed to earn his trust and only played seven times so far this year. Vieira felt Poku didn’t try hard enough in training or stand out. Still, Poku figured to fit into NYCFC’s long-term plans because they have three midfielders over the age of 30. Poku continued to ride the bench and on June 26, 2016 it was leaked he was sold to Miami FC, of the NASL, for $750,000. NYCFC would receive $500,000 in allocation money.
This season has been filled with ups and downs not only for Poku but also for NYCFC. He was the team’s best player in its loss to the New York Cosmos in the U.S. Open Cup. But, he has also been invisible in some games. This year he only had one goal in seven appearances, and only played 268 minutes.
One could assume this was just too good an offer to pass up. To receive that much money for your fifth or sixth string midfielder is an opportunity that doesn’t come up often in the MLS. Especially in a league with such a small budget having that extra half a million in allocation money can really help NYCFC bolster areas where it isn’t as deep, like center back and center forward.
That doesn’t mean that Poku leaving NYCFC is a bad ending to his time with the team. His story is one of trials and tribulations. This is one reason why NYCFC fans love him so much. He also possessed that killer final move that reminds fans why they love the sport.
Though I know he will great things in Miami, NYCFC fans are eternally grateful for all the excitement you gave us. You will always be an NYCFC player. Thank you for all you have done.