BURNABY, B.C. – Midfield was an issue for the Vancouver Whitecaps in 2011, but the player who played there most wasn’t part of the problem.
Gershon Koffie now looks to build on that promising debut season in Major League Soccer as a defensive midfielder under a new-look Vancouver team – but he will have a little more leeway to push forward at times under new coach Martin Rennie.
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“He likes me to play more offensive – more box-to-box,” Koffie told MLSsoccer.com after training on Tuesday. “I still need to defend, but when we move forward, I have to follow the attack.”
The new role is something Koffie is relishing, especially as he played a more offensive role growing up as a young boy in Ghana.
“Last season, I played more defensive, but this season he wants me to be a bit more offensive which I’m good at,” Koffie said. “When I was 12 to 18, I played as a second striker.”
Koffie explained that while playing with Ghanaian side International Allies, he was asked to slot in as a center back during an injury crisis. He performed so well during his stint there that his coach started viewing him as a more defensive player.
Rennie said that while Koffie will be expected to push forward at times, he’s still primarily a defensive player – there’s no communication problem, though.
“Martin is a great guy to work with,” Koffie said. “After a game, after a practice, he’ll call me and tell me how he wants me to play, what role he wants. He makes me feel comfortable.”
With First Kick coming on Saturday against the Montreal Impact, it’s expected Koffie will line up alongside newcomer and fellow defensive midfielder Jun Marques Davidson.
“[Davidson] is a good guy to play with,” Koffie said. “He’s a more defensive midfielder – that’s why the coach wants me to be a little more offensive – we can’t play with two defensive midfielders. We talk a lot on and off the field. We need to win the battle in midfield to win the game.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.