VANCOUVER – Gershon Koffie has had a good week, and on Saturday, it got a little better.
Four days prior to Saturday's 1-0 win over Toronto FC, the Ghanaian both obtained his permanent residency in Canada and extended his contract with the Vancouver Whitecaps.
Then, on opening day, the 21-year-old scored the decisive goal as the ‘Caps defeated their Canadian rivals at BC Place.
“I feel like I can score more goals – more than 10 or maybe less than 10,” Koffie told reporters following the match.
For the tenacious box-to-box midfielder, that has been the one part missing in his game: a relative lack of goals. He had just four goals in 58 career matches heading into the 2013 season. Now, he hopes to use this positive start as a springboard to becoming a more all-round player.
He pointed out the work he's been doing with Caps assistant coach Carl Robinson for helping him improve his ability on the ball. “He talks to me a lot about how I can get the ball from the defenders…and how I should be aware of what I have to do before I have to get the ball.”
Koffie showed plenty of awareness when it mattered most, striking home the winner in the 60th minute. He was the final one to touch the ball at the end of a nice piece of one-touch passing from his teammates.
Centerback Andy O’Brien started the play with a long ball, which was won by striker Darren Mattocks in the air. The Jamaican's knock down fell to Lee Young-Pyo, who played a one-two with Kenny Miller before finding Daigo Kobayashi just inside the Toronto area. The Japanese attacker laid the ball back expertly for Koffie to power past Joe Bendik into the Toronto goal.
That type of quick attacking play is something Koffie is hoping to see more of this season after the ‘Caps finished 2012 with a mere 35 goals.
“We’ve been doing that one-time passing at training a lot,” Koffie said. “To do one-time passing, you have to move, and know what to do before the ball comes.”
Saturday’s win didn’t come without cost for the Whitecaps. Captain Jay DeMerit landed awkwardly after going up for a header, and had to leave just four minutes in.
This follows the defender’s recent struggles with an Achilles tendon injury – he was initially a doubt for this game before getting cleared to play on Friday.
“We went with the medical staff and with Jay, and just went with their advice on it,” head coach Martin Rennie said. “It’s one of those things where it didn’t quite work out the way that we would have hoped.”