ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — A terrific assist to set up Minnesota United’s first goal last weekend in Toronto is just the latest contribution from Abu Danladi. Just the latest sign of progress from a player they thought highly enough of to take with their #1 overall pick.
“He’s getting to that stage, now I think he’s starting to understand his role and his responsibilities within the group. Both sides of the ball,” United coach Adrian Heath said.
Heath says Abu has grown up a bit over the last few games — and his playing time has increased accordingly. He’s moved into the starting lineup the last two games, and in them, has contributed three points — a goal and two assists. But Heath says it’s his work on the defensive end that has allowed that to happen.
“I can’t fault him for his work rate. His energy levels have been really good. On both sides,” Heath said. “And it’s not a natural part of people’s games, to be defensive, when you’ve always been the highest guy up the field, and you wait for it to get up there, and do your stuff. He’s really worked hard at doing both sides of the ball, which we’re really pleased about.”
“Yeah, it’s coming in and just doing what the coach tells me to do and telling me what he expects of me and what the team expects of me and coming in and listening and learning, you know? These guys have played in the league for a while,” Abu said.
Which sets the stage for a game Abu has certainly had circled for quite some time now: Sunday against the LA Galaxy — the team that, as he was growing up in Ghana, was synonymous with American soccer. And then, was right in his backyard once he came to the states to play in college at UCLA. But it might be even more significant personally than professionally, he says, with two good friends on the Galaxy.
“One used to be my roommate in college, like, so I was roommates until I got drafted here, so I know him real well,” Abu said. “And one of the guys is a Right to Dream guy from Ghana too. So I know him real well too because I was in Ghana with him even before I came to the states. So it’s more like a friend-to-friend kind of rivalry. So yeah, I’m really excited for the game.”