Gershon Koffie was the first.
Now, Aminu Abdallah and Emmanuel Adjetey are hoping their trials with the Vancouver Whitecaps prove fruitful, as they joined the Major League Soccer club in Charleston, S.C., for another phase in the pre-season.
Koffie, a central midfielder, came from the African nation of Ghana to Vancouver and the Whitecaps, officially signing one of the club’s first international spots in February of 2011.
In two Major League Soccer seasons, Koffie has shown a steady progression in the level of his play, and at just 21 years of age, it’s a good bet his best days are still to come.
Abdallah, a midfielder who just turned 19 years of age on Jan. 7, and Adjetey, a 24-year-old defender, are also from Ghana, trying to carve similar paths as their fellow countryman.
Tommy Soehn, the former Whitecaps director of soccer operations, first discovered Koffie on a scouting mission in 2010, thus laying the foundation for a pipeline into that nation’s soccer reservoir.
The Whitecaps may be looking to take another dip.
“There’s just a very deep talent pool of players in Ghana,” said Greg Anderson, the Whitecaps director of professional teams.
“And so, obviously signing Gershon created a bit of a relationship with the club. We went over on another scouting trip at the end of last year and identified a few players we thought might be able to help us.”
Abdallah and Adjetey arrived in Vancouver last Friday. Koffie played host, introducing them the sights of the new city.
Both trialists took part in Monday’s scrimmage against the Trinity Western University, and were among the 34 to make the trip to Charleston on Wednesday.
It’s there the coaching staff should get a better evaluation of Abdallah and Adjetey.
The different style of soccer in North America compared to Ghana might be the biggest adjustment for both.
“There’s a lot of differences,” said head coach Martin Rennie.
“Here, it’s obviously a different level of professionalism, the facilities are different. I think there’s a more physical style to the game here. People are a little bit stronger, maybe, in terms of the work they’ve done in the gym and things like that.
“But these guys are naturally very good players, naturally very strong and once they get the right nutrition, the right work in the gym, they could be very good players.”
WHITECAPS MAKE MINOR TRADE
The Vancouver Whitecaps on Wednesday traded the right of first refusal of midfielder Michael Nanchoff to the Portland Timbers for a fourth-round pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft.
Nanchoff’s time in Vancouver came to an end in December, when the club declined to pick up the option on his contract.