INTERVIEW: Evans Frimpong speaks to AFS
In this feature, our MLS expert, Faisal Chibsah, caught up with Ghanaian export, Evans Frimpong, who plies his trade with Tampa Bay Rowdies in the North American Soccer League.
Major League Soccer is already making the waves in North America, but attention is shifting to the North American Soccer League, as ten teams open up their games this weekend.
Evans Frimpong is entering his third season with Tampa Bay Rowdies.
The Rowdies midfielder spoke to Africa Football Shop about life through college, and the level of competition in the NASL.
AFS: Before we talk about the season, Can you introduce Evans Frimpong to our readers?
EF: Evans Frimpong is just another college graduate from University of Delaware, born in Ghana, and trying to achieve success as a soccer player.
AFS: You were selected as 9th overall pick in the first round of the 2012 MLS Supplemental Draft by Chicago Fire. How did you go from Chicago Fire to signing with Tampa Bay Rowdies?
EF: With Chicago Fire, it was [hard] due to the number of players that played the same role as me. These players were much more experienced in the league, at that time, so it was understandable to overlook me.
I switched camps to San Jose Earthquakes, where I came very close to signing. I attended and played several of their pre-season games in Portland. It came down to only one roster spot open, and I was the only trialist.
Just before they could conclude the deal, they lost a player, defender, due to injury. They were forced to offer the only spot to a defender, so that means I had to make way for that. They were kind enough to speak to some NASL teams, and Tampa Bay ended up being the destination for me.
AFS: “He’s an interesting player because he’s quite capable and versatile in regards to playing a number of positions” This is what your coach said about you. What do you make of it?
EF: Well, after two years with the team, I have played numerous positions here; right wing, left wing holding mid, attacking mid and even centre forward in different game formations and I played well and did what I was asked to do on the field. That tells me I’m doing something right. I’m happy to hear remarks of that sort, and it makes me keep fighting for more.
AFS: You are on the background cover of the Rowdies website. Does it mean anything to you?
EF: It’s very cool to see that. It means my hard work is appreciated, and such things inspire me to keep grinding. I thank Rowdies for that.
AFS: Standing at 5-foot 7, is that a disadvantage to you sometimes?
EF: To be honest I have never cared about height, because I look up to players in the same position as I am in, such as Iniesta, Messi Fabregas and Coutinho, and they play against players twice their size, and excel very well. My weapon is speed and quick feet. Those make me different on the field.
AFS: Ten teams will be competing in the 2014 NASL season, How competitive is the league?
EF: I think it’s gonna be very competitive with all these new signing from MLS teams. The format we are playing this year makes every game count. This format will make a tie in an away game feel like a defeat. That tells you how competitive the league is going to be in 2014.
AFS: You graduated from the University of Delaware. Tell us about your college experience as a student-athlete?
EF: It was a good experience that one can only gain if you attend college. As a student-athlete, you have to be very disciplined, not only on the field but off the field as well.
You are an ambassador of the college and you are expected to live up to expectations. The kids in the community look up to you, and you just have to be a positive a role model for them.
AFS: Several players from Africa in the MLS, NASL, USLPro and other lower leagues, arrived through the college scholarship program. Is that the best way to go, for an aspiring professional soccer player?
EF: Well for me I will say yes, because in America it’s the easiest way to get into the league. The scholarship programs help you to showcase your talent during your four years of competition at the college level. The better part of it is that, you get the education that you need and you can fall back to that in the future, when soccer does not go as planned.
AFS: You made a lot of headline stories, including winning the CAA Player of the year in 2012. Take us through those memories
EF: Winning that award was all through hard work and dedication. I thank my team-mates and staff at Delaware that helped me throughout the journey. I had to work extra hard, considering the fact that Delaware wasn’t a top program at that time. Now, we are compared to the likes of UCLA, Maryland and the rest, and I am very happy to be a part of what Delaware has achieved so far.
AFS: At 24, your only chance of playing for Ghana is with the senior team. What are your chances?
EF: It’s Very tough at this moment. The team has depth, with several players plying their trade with big European clubs in top European leagues.
I know it’s going to be hard, but they say impossible is nothing, so I will just continue working hard to improve my game while I await that golden chance with the National team.
The Olympic team could be a possibility as well.
AFS: Would you consider playing for US National team if given the opportunity?
EF: That is a tough one, but it would all depend on what situation and at what time. But wouldn’t say no if given the chance.
AFS: June 16, at Brazil, group G opening game for Ghana is against USA. Who deserves three points?
EF: That is going be a good game.
Who deserves it? They both deserve it.
USA is playing really well under Klinsmann and Ghana is always a powerhouse to beat.
May the best team win, and I hope that best team is Ghana.
AFS: Lastly, What’s next for you?
EF: Making it to the big leagues like MLS, European leagues. It’s all about time and I hope to stay healthy.