I talked with Fire forward Patrick Nyarko for a few minutes prior to Saturday’s match against San Jose (during which he scored the game-winning goal…) and in getting to know him found the 23-year-old to be a very down to earth guy.
I talked with Patrick about a wide variety of topics including his reaction to the McBride injury, a little rivalry he has with Bakary Soumare, and what it’s like to grow up in Ghana, spend your college years in rural Virginia and then move to the big city of Chicago.
Check out the full interview after the jump…
**Brian being out for 3-4 months is obviously a big blow for the team, but you figure to be a player who will see a lot of playing time in his absence. What does this new opportunity mean to you?**
PN: First of all it’s unfortunate for us to lose Brian. We all know his importance to the team and we feel like we always have a better chance of winning with him in there. But there are some things that you can’t control and we need him more down the stretch than we need him right now and so for us it’s pretty difficult but at the same time an easy decision to have him have the surgery now and then come back later.
As it is we are all a team and we have quite a good squad and we feel like anyone can step in. I’m getting the start tonight and hopefully something good comes out of it. I’m confident. I’ve played with Brian and he’s given me enough confidence for me to step in and do the kind of job he does. I mean it’s going to be hard emulating what Brian does because he’s obviously one of the top scorers in the league and its gonna take something special to match that but I’m going to do my best. I’m confident enough and hopefully I play my game, play well, and help the team win.
**Obviously your skill set differs pretty greatly from Brian’s. What’s something you will bring to the team that wasn’t necessarily there when Brian was healthy?**
PN: A little more pace. Brian is the target kind of guy. He’s strong on the ball, he helps us hold a lot of balls up front and bring people in. I’m not a big guy so going against big defenders my main asset is my pace and trying to get some balls behind and run onto them try to set up people and when the chance comes to finish it. I hope to… get some chances and hopefully finish them. Brian’s overall game is right up there and I hope to get close to it and help the team.
**Back in April Ghana’s head coach (Milovan Rajevic) came to Columbus to watch you in action. The word at the time was that he planned to call you up for some friendly matches. Ghana is playing Japan in a September friendly match. Has there been an update on your status for that match?**
PN: No not anything official. You hear most things out of the blue with speculations and rumors and stuff like that but he hasn’t contacted me officially. Hopefully these next couple games I play really well and I resurface in his picture and hopefully I get a call up.
**What would a call up mean to you?**
PN: It would mean a lot. I mean most guys would tell you it’s really hard to get on any national team let alone the Ghanaian national team. They are really playing well recently and they’re *almost* through to the World Cup so that says a lot. It’s going to be real hard to get on the team but when I get called up I’m going to relax, play my game and hopefully impress the coaching staff so they keep me in their minds. With the World Cup coming up you never know…
**With Baky playing a key role for the Malian National Team and Mali and Ghana in the same World Cup Qualifying group (Ghana is 5 points ahead of second place Mali after 3 of 6 matches) is there any sort of rivalry going on between you two guys?**
PN: A little bit actually. I mean when we were playing them I was split 50-50 supporting Baky and then supporting my team. I actually wanted it to end in a tie in Mali so I could feel like I’ve supported Baky and I’ve supported Ghana and no one loses but it’s good we won the game. He came back and even though I wasn’t there he was a little mad at me. He was playing the rival card but I told him ‘Hey man I was supporting you too.’ But I mean I would be thrilled if Ghana makes it. It’s my home country and though I love Baky to death I’m still rooting for my home nation and hopefully we make it through.
**Growing up in Ghana then moving to Blacksburg, VA (home of Virginia Tech, where Patrick played college soccer) then here to Chicago has to be a little like living in three different worlds…**
PN: Definitely, definitely. It’s been great; I would never have guessed a few years back that I was going to go through this awesome experience. As you said it’s living in 3 different worlds. Coming up from Ghana it was a huge culture shock when I got to Blacksburg. At first I thought ‘This is it. This is all of America,’ but then when I moved here I was like ‘Whoa…’ there is something bigger after all. It’s been great though. Blacksburg was an incredible college town. It was friendly and they want to show support and they had a great program down there. I was really glad I did it and I was lucky enough to end up in Chicago where, besides the team being a great group of guys, the city is great and I’ve been loving every single bit of it. Hopefully I’ll stay here for a long time.
**What exactly were the circumstances that the Virginia Tech coach offered you a spot on the team?**
PN: He actually contacted me and we talked before he saw me play. I was done with high school and in Ghana after you’re done with high school you wait for a little while, about a year, before you go to college. It was that period of time and I was just hanging out and he came down. He had two guys he had already scouted [in Ghana] and then he came down. He was like ‘I have one more scholarship for one more guy,’ and for some reason I ended up being lucky and getting it.
Thanks again to Patrick for the interview. I found him to be a really cool guy. He is very modest but in the interview I found that he exuded kind of a quiet confidence that I hadn’t seen from him in the locker room after matches. But he’s definitely a cool dude and he’s clearly off to a great start filling in for McBride…