The Montreal Impact need players to step up while star playmaker Ignacio Piatti deals with a long-term injury and Omar Browne features for Panama at the Concacaf Gold Cup. On Wednesday night, Orji Okwonkwo answered the call, adding much-needed quality in the attacking third.
The Nigerian winger returned from a three-game absence caused by an injury of his own with two sensational goals, carrying the Impact to a 2-1 victory over the undermanned Portland Timbers. Before the season, Okwonkwo was acquired on loan from Italian side Bologna FC 1909.
Okwonkwo came into the game with two goals in his first MLS season, doubling that total in sensational style — including a game-winner that he labeled among the best of his career. The 21-year-old has proven to be a streaky scorer, going 10 matches in between his prior two strikes. That's not for a lack of effort, though, as Okwonkwo's pace and ideas have been integral to Montreal's charge up the Eastern Conference standings.
"I think it was one of the best goals of my career," said Okwonkwo after the match. "I wasn't expecting it at all. I'm very happy to have scored a goal like that. Coming from Italy into MLS is difficult, and there's a certain adaptation period needed. I feel like I've adapted well so far."
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Before arriving in Montreal, Okwonko had three goals in 27 Serie A appearances with Bologna after coming over from Nigerian side FC Abuja in 2016. He also scored once in 13 Serie B matches for Brescia during the second half of last season. The Bologna tie should come as no surprise, with Impact chairman Joey Saputo in their ownership group.
Let's take another look at both of his beauties, which you'll probably want to watch a few times. The first:
And the second: