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African All Stars

African All-Stars in Major League Soccer: The Complete Guide

20:57 GMT+3 05/03/2019
Fanendo Adi - Cincinnati
Which of the continent’s stars are currently plying their trade in MLS?

  • Florentin Pogba Genclerbirligi

    Atlanta United

    Florentin Pogba is a high-profile off-season addition for the champions, hoping to add defensive steel to United’s plethora of attacking players. The 28-year-old is a Guinea international with plenty of experience in the French top flight after a stint with Saint-Etienne.

    There’s African interest among the club’s youngsters, with left-back George Bello (Nigeria) and wideman Lagos Kunga (Angola) the ones to watch. Ghanaian midfielder Anderson Asiedu has also joined Frank de Boer’s squad.

    Nigerian youngster Patrick Okonkwo is part of United’s reserve team.

     

  • Latif Blessing LAFC MLS

    Los Angeles FC

    Ghanaian forward Latif Blessing didn’t translate his domestic form to Major League Soccer during his first season—with Sporting Kansas City—but managed 11 decisive contributions last term after switching to LAFC.

    He’ll be hoping that an even bigger return this term can catapult him into Kwesi Appiah’s plans…and potentially to Europe.

    Libya full-back Mohamed El-Munir is a big off-season addition for Orlando City SC.

     

  • Harrison Afful MLS Columbus 10312017

    Columbus Crew SC

    There’s a real Ghanaian feel at the Crew, who boast a swathe of excellent Ghanaian talents. Jonathan Mensah and Harrison Afful are two of the national side’s most experienced campaigners, while another defender—Lalas Abubakar—will be hoping for international recognition in 2019.

    Forward Edward Opoku has joined from St Louis FC, and he’ll be charged with supporting USA international Gyasi Zardes…who was approached by the Black Stars in late 2014.

  • Quincy Amarikwa San Jose Earthquakes MLS 03062016

    DC United

    Now 31, it’s unlikely the Nigeria call will ever come for new boy Quincy Amarikwa, who’s nonetheless been a regular MLS campaigner for several seasons. In recent seasons he’s fallen short of his form during 2014, when he scored eight goals and contributed five assists for Chicago Fire.

    Goalkeeper Bill Hamid represents the USA, but had the option of turning out for Sierra Leone.

  • Nedum Onuoha of Queens Park Rangers

    Real Salt Lake City

    Veteran Nedum Onuoha is similarly unlikely to feature for Nigeria anytime soon, after holding out for England when the Super Eagles did come calling in the past. He represented Manchester City, Sunderland and Queens Park Rangers during a long spell in the top two divisions of the English game.

    Liberia international Sam Johnson signed in February from Valerenga.

  • Lass Bangoura Rayo Vallecano La Liga 08252013

    Vancouver Whitecaps

    Columbus Crew turned their noses up at Guinea wideman Lass Bangoura, but their loss could be Whitecaps’ gain after the Canadians swooped in to take him on a season-long loan from Rayo Vallecano. He struggled to impress in La Liga during the first half of the campaign, largely due to the preference of coach Michel, but has the quality to be a star in Major League Soccer.

    Centre-back Jasser Khemiri has arrived from Stade Tunisien. 

  • Dominique Badji Colorado Rapids MLS 2018

    FC Dallas

    Senegal’s Dominique Badji arrived from Colorado Rapids last year, but failed to come close to matching the form he’d demonstrated with his previous employers.

    He struck 22 goals across his final three campaigns for the Rapids, often from wide areas, and Dallas will be hoping for an improved return this term. An assist in the season opener against New England Revolution was a good start.

    There’s also Ghanaian interest in the form of widemen Francis Atuahene and Ema Twumasi.

  • Kei Kamara Vancouver Whitecaps MLS

    Colorado Rapids

    With Badji gone, Rapids were able to bring in 34-year-old Kei Kamara, one of the great faces of MLS in recent years and arguably one of Africa’s most underrated forwards. The Sierra Leone international scored 14 goals for Whitecaps last term, while winning more headers—on average per game—than any other player in the division.

    Midfielder Nana Boateng is a competent operator in the heart of the park, and another Ghanaian, Kofi Opare, is a new arrival after spells with DC United and LA Galaxy.

  • Danny Hoesen MLS 07092017

    San Jose Earthquakes

    Danny Hoesen represented the Netherlands at U-21 level, but is eligible to feature for Morocco via his father. The six footer featured for Ajax and FC Groningen in the Eredivisie before joining the Quakes, initially on loan, in 2017. He bagged 12 goals last term.

    Youngster Siad Haji, a Kenyan refugee of Somali origin, was drafted in after representing VCU Rams.

    Ghanaian wonderkid Jacob Akanyirige was the eighth youngest player to sign a professional contract in MLS history when he joined San Jose.

  • Larrys Mabiala Alberth Elis Portland Timbers Houston Dynamo

    Portland Timbers

    Like Atalanta, Timbers are another side admired for their attacking talent, although there’s African interest in the backline in the form of Larrys Mabiala. The 31-year-old previously featured for OGC Nice, Karabukspor and Kayserispor, among others, during a nomadic career.

    Uncapped 24-year-old defender Modou Jadama was born in The Gambia.

  • Chris Mavinga Toronto FC

    Toronto FC

    There’s further Congolese interest at 2018 Canadian Cup winners Toronto FC, in the form of left-back Chris Mavinga.

    The wideman was with Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool as a youngster, and truly made his breakthrough with Stade Rennais before moving to Russia and then MLS.

    He hasn’t represented the Leopards since 2015.

  • Eric Alexander of the Houston Dynamo, Nouhou Tolo of the Seattle Sounders

    Seattle Sounders

    Seattle Sounders are another MLS side lauded for their attacking quality but who boast some African talent in defence. Cameroon left-back Nouhou Tolo made 30 appearances in the top flight last term, and should build on his one Indomitable Lions appearance to date over the coming 12 months.

    Kenyan youngster Handwalla Bwana has returned to the club following a loan spell with Tacoma Defiance.

  • Abdul Rwatubyaye of Rwanda outjumps Mozambique's Apson David Manjate

    Sporting Kansas City

    While Major League Soccer is a hotbed for African talent, there aren’t too many who have made the jump directly from an African league to the States’ top division. It will be interesting to see, therefore, whether Rwanda defender Abdul Rwatubyaye can pave the way for future arrivals after moving directly from Rayon Sports during the offseason.

    Guinea-Bissau forward Gerso scored six goals in 33 MLS outings last term.

  • Amro Tarek of Egypt

    New York Red Bulls

    Egypt centre-back Amro Tarek made one appearance for the Pharaohs last year, but missed out on their World Cup squad. He joined NYRB in the off season from Orlando City SC, and will hope to make a big impact at his new club.

    Young Ivorian midfielder Jean-Christophe Koffi has been promoted from the reserves. 

  • Ebenezer Ofori

    New York City FC

    Ghana international Ebenezer Ofori is the one to watch here, with only two players averaging a better pass-success rate in the division last term. The 23-year-old has enjoyed an increased profile within the international set-up under Kwesi Appiah, and he remains at NYCFC on another year-long loan from VfB Stuttgart. He’s dynamic, has a superb engine, and is comfortable in possession.

    Warri-born Sebastien Ibeagha represented the USA at U-20 level, but is eligible for Nigeria, while Ismael Tajouri-Shradi has made a handful of appearances for Libya.

  • Ema Boateng Graham Zusi MLS 09242018

    Los Angeles Galaxy

    Another Ghanaian talent to watch in MLS this season is LA Galaxy wideman Ema Boateng. The left-sider took a step back last term, making just 12 starts compared to 29 the season before. He’ll be hoping to return to a prominent role under Guillermo Barros Schelotto, who should help the 25-year-old refine his game in the final third, and perhaps even earn some international recognition.

    Could Ola Kamara’s departure for China help the potential Black Star make his mark in the top flight?

  • Michael Mancienne

    New England Revolution

    New boy Michael Mancienne—signed from Nottingham Forest—was an unused substitute during their season opener, a 1-1 draw away at FC Dallas, but has the quality to make a big impact for Brad Friedel’s side. The Anglo-Seychellois defender, who graduated from the Chelsea academy, could be used to protect the backline or in a centre-back pairing with Nigerian Jalil Anibaba.

    Midfielder Wilfried Zahibo is eligible for the Ivory Coast.

  • Johan Kappelhof Chicago Fire

    Chicago Fire

    Keep an eye out for Johan Kappelhof, who swapped Dutch football—and FC Groningen—for Fire back in 2016. He’s amassed 97 MLS appearances in the interim, but is yet to make an international appearance for either Ghana or the Netherlands. The centre-back signed a new deal—keeping him at the club until 2021—in January.

    Another Ghanaian, C.J. Sapong, has represented the States at senior level.

  • Lamine Sane Werder Bremen

    Orlando City Soccer Club

    There aren’t too many African players in the division more experienced than 31-year-old Senegal centre-back Lamine Sane. As well as amassing over 30 caps for the Teranga Lions, the defender has just under 200 Ligue 1 appearances under his belt after a seven-year spell with Girondins de Bordeaux.

    He also played for Werder Bremen before switching to The Lions, but the skipper must earn his keep as part of City’s remodelled backline.

  • Ike Opara MLS Minnesota United 02032019

    Minnesota United FC

    United have drafted in a few seasoned heads as they enter their third year in Major League Soccer, with USA international Ike Opara—who’s still eligible for Nigeria—one of the more experienced new arrivals.

    Madagascar’s Romain Metanire arrives from Stade de Reims after helping the islanders qualify for their first Nations Cup, while Ghana’s Abu Danladi is a graduate from the esteemed Right to Dream Academy.

  • David Accam Chicago Fire MLS

    Philadelphia Union

    David Accam’s international career may not have lived up to standards, but the wideman-cum-striker has the potential to be one of Union’s star performers. He scored 14 and contributed six assists during his last season with Chicago Fire, but a major drop in form at his last club means he has it all to prove again. Now injury-free, he needs a big year.

    Olivier Mbaizo (Cameroon) and Derrick Jones (Ghana) have arrived from Bethlehem Steel.

  • Saphir Taider Bologna

    Montreal Impact

    There’s plenty of African interest at Impact, where Saphir Taider has extended his loan stay from Bologna. The Algeria midfielder has represented Internazionale and Southampton, and has the quality to dominate contests at this level.

    Nigerian wideman Orji Okwonkwo is another loan arrival from Bologna, while Uganda’s Mike Azira has signed from Colorado Rapids.

    Elsewhere, keep an eye out for Senegalese duo Clement Diop and Zakaria Diallo, as well as Canada U-23 midfielder Clement Bayiha, who was born in Yaounde.

  • Chad Marshall Fanendo Adi MLS Seattle Cincinnati 03022019

    FC Cincinnati

    Finally, we conclude with MLS new boys FC Cincinnati, who will be relying on seasoned MLS forward Fanendo Adi as they look to make a splash.

    The Nigerian joins from Portland Timbers, and it’s not yet too late for the powerful attacker to make up for lost time with the national side, particularly if he replicates his past goalscoring form. Adi netted 44 league goals between 2015 and 2017.

    The Gambia’s Kekuta Manneh joins from St. Gallen, Fatai Alashi (Nigeria) is a midfield recruit from San Jose Earthquakes, and centre-back Hassam Ndam (Cameroon) joins from NYRB.