Abubakar continued his development with the regular playing time he was not getting with Columbus Crew SC, he helped stabilize a languishing Rapids side and raised his value in the process. In 22 games with him in the starting lineup, they picked up 1.5 points per game compared to 0.7 PPG in the 12 games without him. When the loan ended, Abubakar was due to return to the Crew heading into the offseason.
But he didn't want to leave the Rapids.
“When I came back to Columbus, I told them I wanted to stay in Colorado," Abubakar told MLSsoccer.com. "I’m happy here. I spoke to [technical director] Pat Onstad and I told him that.”
Onstad understood, but he had to try and work out the best deal for Columbus. He was upfront with Abubakar, telling him bluntly that if another club came in with a better offer than Colorado, he had to take it.
Abubakar pleaded for the clubs to work something out.
“I was nervous," Abubakar admitted. "The way Pat was saying it, made me think there was already a team with a bigger offer. I was trying hard to convince him to do whatever it takes to work out things with Padraig to have me stay in Colorado."
Eventually, the Rapids and Crew agreed on a deal worth $400,000 in General Allocation Money and a 2020 international roster slot in exchange for Abubakar.
“I’m grateful, I give credit to Pat Onstad for really helping me out," he added.
Abubakar still holds the Crew close to his heart, as the club that drafted him No. 5 overall in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft, as he does his relationships at the club, particularly fellow Ghanaian Jonathan Mensah.
“When I got traded, he was the first person I called," Abubakar said. "Jonathan is my big brother. I can’t tell you how much I love that guy, man," Abubakar said. "He’s someone I grew up watching. I told him that when we met in Columbus. I told him he was my mentor before I even met him, then we had a great relationship. We’re still in touch. I’ll always see him as my big brother.”
“Jonathan still advises me and I listen. It’s sad to be apart. When they came here last year, I still have the picture. The hug we gave each other was special. Every time I look at the picture it’s real, we missed each other so much. I still miss him. I always tell him!”
There's still a chance for the pair to feature in the same squad, with Mensah still a regular member of the Ghanaian national team. Abubakar has yet to be called up to the senior side, though is on the radar.
“I always believe if you keep playing well, working hard, it’s going to come," Abubakar said. "I know they’re watching me. In 2018, they told me I was in their data pool and when my time comes, they’ll call me. If I continue to play well, I think I’m going to get a call up.”