If you haven't been confused by the Whitecaps signing a bevy of new players, be prepared for the one who's tricky to pronounce as well.
Gershon Koffie, out of Ghana, was confirmed as the latest member of the Vancouver Whitecaps after arriving on trial last week, pending international clearance. Koffie, 18, is something of a mystery man to us footballing laymen. The young central midfielder trialled last year with Randers FC in the Danish first division, unsuccessfully. If he has any experience with clubs outside of Ghana, it's not showing itself, and indeed it looks like Koffie had moved to Vancouver in the first place for quite non-footballing reasons. So, then, this isn't one to expect fifteen goals from.
I certainly don't want to leap down Koffie's throat or pan the signing. I haven't seen him play (I'm not sure anyone in the world has seen him play) and at age eighteen he's certainly going to get better rather than worse. North American history is repleted with good young athletes who came out of nowhere as young men and turned out to be pretty decent players. Zurab Tsiskaridze, for the Whitecaps, is an excellent example. And another native-born Ghanian son is Randy Edwini-Bonsu who'd never even kicked a soccer ball before he moved to Edmonton at age twelve. It happens.
Though it doesn't happen real often.
The simple truth is that Koffie's signing is fine by me, and I'm the guy who so recently panned the Whitecaps for signing too many players. Koffie isn't signing for MLS in any real sense of the word: he's signing for "the future" in a generic way and he'd be just as likely to sign the same contract if the Whitecaps were staying in the second division. Maybe he'll pan out, maybe he won't. Teams take these sorts of flyers all the time. Former Whitecap Dever Orgill was 17 when he joined the Residency side out of some sort of Jamaican team I still haven't been able to figure out, and although his attitude let him down at the end he was having a pretty good career for a bit there.
It would be concerning if Thordarson and Soehn were looking at using Koffie in the first team right away, of course, but that hardly seems likely with this team's midfield. Which former Canadian international would you prefer to sit for the obscure 18-year-old Ghanian, Terry Dunfield or Martin Nash? I feel safe in predicting that's not going to happen and I'll probably be aghast if it does. If, on the other hand, Koffie spends some time on the bench for the rest of the year and maybe even in the Residency team come the 2011 USL PDL season, that would be fine by me. Maybe the Whitecaps have something, maybe they don't, but we'd get the opportunity to find out for sure at no real cost.
I'm trying to find out more about this kid, of course, because that's the way I roll. I don't expect to come up with too much. But at the end of the day, what matters isn't where the kid's been but where he's going from here. The nice thing about his being an unknown quantity is that it'll be easy for him to surprise me.
If he plays and he stinks, of course, I reserve the right to turn on him like a rabid badger.