WASHINGTON – Two weeks after inking a deal with D.C. United and two days after getting on the pitch for the first time with his new club, United’s latest signing – Ghanian midfielder and defender Samuel Inkoom – seems to be getting used to his new home just fine.
“Seriously, I [am] so happy,” the fleet-footed 25-year-old Inkoom told reporters following Thursday’s training session. "To be joining D.C. United, I’m happy. I was obviously excited to go on the pitch and see what I can do.”
Inkoom saw action in United’s CONCACAF Champions League encounter with Waterhouse FC on Wednesday evening, a 2-1 victory, spending half of the game at outside back and the other half on the wing. United head coach Ben Olsen has had limited time to evaluate Inkoom – his club has only recently returned to some semblance of a normal training schedule after surviving a brutal stretch of games – but he seems to like what he sees so far.
"He’s got a great pedigree,” Olsen told MLSsoccer.com on Thursday morning. "He’s an exciting prospect, and it’s just a matter of us finding ways to get him involved and to help him understand who we are. It’s been a little bit tough because of the lack of training sessions. We threw him into the fire [on Wednesday], and he did fine. He’s got a good spirit about him.”
While most observers assumed United acquired Inkoom to provide cover at outside back – where the club has been thin for most of 2014 – Olsen suggested that Inkoom may initially see more action on the wings.
"I thought there were two different Samuels in that game,” said Olsen. "I thought that at right back, early in the game he struggled to get the pace of the game and deal with some of the match ups over there. Part of that is just being thrown into the fire and not having a lot of the group. When I switched him to midfield he looked very comfortable. I think in the short term that’s a place we could look at him before we look at him in the back. He’s an option at both, and I think that’s great."
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The World Cup veteran first learned of United’s interest while in Ukraine, where he plied his trade with Ukranian Premiere League side Dnipro for three years, spending time during that period on loan in France and Greece. Inkoom said on Thursday that he and former Dnipro head coach Juande Ramos hadn’t seen eye to eye, the Ghanian eager to see the pitch while his coach couldn’t find a spot for him in his lineup.
There were other offers from MLS clubs, but Inkoom felt confident in moving to United after a conversation with Olsen, signing on a free transfer.
"Of course,” Inkoom told MLSsoccer.com, "there were a couple of offers. Ben called my phone and was talking to me about how D.C. United play, how he can get me [minutes]. He had so much confidence in me. It pushed me to come and play here.”
Inkoom joins a pair of other players of Ghanian descent on United’s roster, both of whom are also pieces on United’s back line: Canadian international Nana Attakora and former Galaxy center back Kofi Opare. Inkoom found himself playing alongside Opare during Wednesday’s CCL match, and the two quickly found a convenient way to communicate.
"I think for me it’s been good to have him,” Inkoom said. "For me it’s like a family and to see my countryman as well. We do jokes together. We were talking in our language [Twi] on Wednesday. I will be there for him, and he will be there for me.
“I’m here to play football, to play soccer,” Inkoom continued. "I need to focus and do whatever I can do to help the club take trophies. I’m here for D.C. United."