With only 41 career appearances since being drafted in 2010, Andre Akpan is a bit of an unknown to New England Revolution fans. The forward was electric at the high school level as he contributed 111 points for The Oakridge School. The jump to the collegiate game didn't intimidate Akpan as he became Harvard University's all-time leading scorer with 127 points thanks to 48 goals and 33 assists.
Akpan, who spent time with the Colorado Rapids and New York Red Bulls before being traded to the Revs, hasn't found much success in MLS. Now in his fifth year as a professional, Akpan has only offered four goals and two assists.
To get a better understanding of who Akpan is and what makes him a special player, The Bent Musket spoke to Jamie Clark. Now head coach at the University of Washington, Clark oversaw Akpan's development at Harvard during the 2008 and 2009 seasons.
TBM: How would you describe Akpan as a player?
Clark: Andre is a very good attacking player that can score goals in a variety of ways. He's very good in the air, elusive in the box and a good finisher. He has very good feet and is a player you can play through. He has a deceptive change of pace that allows himself to make a yard and when he does the ball often end ups in the back of the net. Like many forwards he sometimes floats in and out of games, but just when you think he's gone quiet is often the time when he makes you pay.
TBM: What are Akpan's strengths?
Clark: Andre has all the tools to be a big success. After many years in the league he now also has the know how. His ability to find space and score goals is what makes him special. I think this is the move that he's been waiting for and if given the chance he will make the most of it.
TBM: The Revolution's current formation requires a classic number 9 that can hold up the ball. Can Akpan fulfill this role?
Clark: Andre has the size and feet to be a great target player. He doesn't like to just bang and smash like some targets but that doesn't mean he can't be a presence and keep possessions. He's just a little more finesse with his movement and that's what allows him to go from being the target one minute to being unmarked in the box the next.
TBM: What does Akpan need in order to be success in New England?
Clark: A run of games. Like any forward you need a real chance to score goals and show your worth. He will have to make good with his chance, but I think if given one he has the tools and experience to do so.