SEATTLE — There was a coconut sitting on the top shelf of Mamadou “Futty” Danso’s locker Saturday night after the Timbers’ 1-1 draw at Qwest Field, and that seems oddly appropriate.
Danso has scored the Timbers’ last two goals with his coconut, heading in free kick balls from Jack Jewsbury. Last week, Danso snapped one into Philadelphia’s net in a 1-0 victory at JELD-WEN Field.
On Saturday in the Seattle rain, he directed a ball past Kasey Keller for the equalizer in a 1-1 tie with the Sounders.
“He’s always in the mix for it,” Timbers center back Eric Brunner said. “That’s the sign of a guy with a sense for the goal. He’s strong. He’s athletic. If you’ve seen him jump — he can touch the sky.”
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Danso, a national team player for The Gambia, brings a serene, humble approach to his game. He deflects praise, crediting his teammates and the coaching staff at every opportunity.
Yet he is proving to be an exceptional player in MLS despite playing for Portland’s second-division side last year.
“I never had a doubt about my talent,” Danso said. “The thing about soccer, it depends on who you get connected with. I happened to fall in with Portland last year and Gavin [Wilkinson, now Portland’s GM] gave me so much courage. He told me, ‘You can do this. You just have to believe in yourself.’ John Spencer came in and gave me the same [encouragement].”
Danso said Jewsbury made a great service in the 65th minute.
“I try to put it in a good spot between the six and the 12 and let those guys get on the end of it,” Jewsbury said. “Futty, again, unbelievable header and it’s a game-changer for us.”
Danso has also worked out well teamed in the back with Brunner.
“We both have a sense that we’re going to cover for each other and I think that’s the main thing,” Brunner said.
As for the coconut, Danso said he bought one at a market last year when he came to Seattle.
“I like the water inside,” he said.
Well, this week, someone remembered that and bought him a new one. Taking it in his hand, Danso smiled.
“I think I’m going to keep it as my good luck charm,” he said.