by Harrison Crow (@Harrison_Crow)
Last year, I wrote about Patrick Nyarko and his contract extension with the Chicago Fire. Fast forward through a rough 2015 campaign and while I wasn't necessarily wrong about the deal, as Nyarko reached more minutes than I had expected and ended up being was a useful option off the bench, the Chicago Fire ended up on the lesser side of the deal paying him more than what he was worth in 2015. That was largely due to injuries that sidelined him the first half of the season, one of the primary reasons I remained rather gloomy concerning the size of the contract.
Nyarko is now "supposedly" headed to DC after requesting to leave the windy city and despite his limited time on the pitch last season there are performance indicators that United could be set to inherent a solid “buy low” candidate should a trade be worked out.
With injuries and less leverage it's inevitable that Nyarko is going to be paid less than his $210,000 contract last season and thus will take a step closer to the average wide midfielder salary, which was roughly $175,000 last season. As I pointed out last year, he's had some problems with injuries related to his legs but that didn't stop him from still attempting and successfully winning one-on-one take-on's.
Comparing him to those with at least 1,000 minutes played (39 total candidates), Nyarko managed to come in 11th in shots inside/outside 18 yard ratio, meaning he took more high leverage shots than most his peers when taking a shot. He did this by managing 1.3 successful dribbles per 90 minutes and getting to the box by way of his speed and skill.
Now instead of trying to fight for a place in Chicago with minutes being tough to find while being overpaid in a reduced role, Ben Olsen, who needed both attacking quality and speed off the bench, finds himself with a useful weapon that just a few years ago was near the top of underrated attacking wide players in MLS.
Despite his ability and past history he won't be depended upon for more than 1600 minutes (roughly half an MLS season) because of Chris Rolfe, Lamar Neagle and Nick DeLeon rotating to cover the wide positions reducing the worry associated injury concern. The minutes will be there if he's healthy and they can likely easily spell him for multiple games at a time if needed.
I'll fully admit that this is a risky move and with nearing 30 next week Patrick Nyarko has probably already seen his best season as a professional. But that doesn't mean that he's done or that he's no longer of value to an MLS club. This is a good risk and the type of good risk more MLS teams need to take in an off-season.