Delaware soccer star on the brink

Evans Frimpong garnered attention from MLS officials at the recent combine in Florida.
Evans Frimpong garnered attention from MLS officials at the recent combine in Florida. (ANDY MEAD/MLS SOCCER.COM)
Posted: January 12, 2012

KANSAS CITY - Evans Frimpong's dream of becoming a professional soccer player began on another continent. His determination to achieve that dream has sent him all across the United States; sleeping in different beds, waking up in different time zones, and spending entirely too much time away from family - even for a 22-year-old.

Ask Frimpong's coaches and friends, and they'll tell you his dedication holds no boundaries. A student earning a sociology degree from the University of Delaware, he is passionate about soccer, and his skill and work ethic convey it. A native of Ghana, Frimpong spent a year at the University of Texas at Brownsville before landing at Delaware after being spotted by Blue Hens head coach Ian Hennessy. Through Delaware, which is not lauded as a Division I soccer powerhouse, Frimpong, a forward, has landed on the radar of MLS scouts and coaches. A good chance of being rewarded for his dedication? Having his name called as one of 70 hopefuls vying to be selected in today's MLS SuperDraft.

Except Frimpong will have to hear it secondhand. He'll be on a flight from Florida to Philadelphia, headed back to school to wrap up the winter session, some of which he missed as an invitee to the MLS combine last weekend in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Frimpong described the experience as "really good" and noted his glee at being approached by representatives from Real Salt Lake, New England and Kansas City. Frimpong made his presence known, notching a goal and an assist with the AdiZero team on the final day.

"Coming from a small school, being surrounded by all these guys from big schools that get a ton of exposure, it was great to get recognized, and I feel like I did stand out," Frimpong said. "It's all about confidence [at the combine], because if you aren't [confident], it can be a little intimidating. But I loved it. I felt like I competed hard and think I got my name out there."

But perhaps more important to Frimpong than recognition from MLS scouts was the fact he was close to his parents, Stephen and Agnes Frimpong, just a short plane ride to Tampa. He had not seen them in 8 months.

"It's tough; I mean, this is the second time in over a year I have seen my parents," Frimpong said. "This past summer, I spent a month training with the Colorado Rapids [first team and reserves] and then from there came straight to preseason at Delaware. Plus, with classes and playing with Reading United [the Union's developmental affiliate], it was a total of 8 months that I hadn't seen my family. But they know playing professionally is my dream and that I love them very much."

At Delaware, Frimpong was named Colonial Athletic Association player of the year, became an NSCAA second-team All-America and was a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy, the most coveted prize in college soccer. A member of Reading United for the past 2 years, Frimpong roomed with teammates in Reading in the summer months and stood out on a team of blue-chip MLS prospects, most notably C.J. Sapong, who wrapped up a stellar rookie season in 2011 with Sporting Kansas City. Reading coach Brendan Burke, who also heads the Union's reserve team, thinks that, with his abilities, it'd be surprising to not see Frimpong taken today.

"He is a very low-maintenance player, but he has some explosive qualities that I think people started to see down at the combine this week, and I think that could push him into the early second round, and possibly even late first round," Burke said. "I know firsthand of his work ethic and dedication, and I think his abilities would mesh well with quite a few teams around the league. I know this sounds cliché, but I do really think the sky is the limit for him."

But while Frimpong is an optimist, he's also a realist. He knows it's also very possible he won't get selected and will have to wait for MLS' supplemental draft or ply his talents elsewhere as a free agent.

But he's fine with that. Setbacks to Frimpong mean he just has to stay on the road to his dream a while longer.

"I think I am really close," Frimpong said. "Like I said, the combine is a great place to get recognized, and I think I impressed a few people. I'm not going to lie; I was surprised I didn't hear much from the Union, because I played for their developmental team. PPL Park is so close [to Delaware], and I always wondered what it'd be like to play there. Who knows, maybe one day, I'll be able to get that chance. I am just eager to see where I finally land."

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