Major League Soccer / Tony Quinn

Sarkodie part of Akron's big day

Kofi Sarkodie’s joy at his first-round selection in the MLS SuperDraft on Thursday was amplified by the success of his college teammates at the University of Akron. The national champions had a record five players taken in the first round of the draft and had seven players drafted in the first two rounds.

“We all knew there was a good chance we would go in the first round,” Sarkodie said. “It’s cool being together, winning a national championship, and then all coming here and getting drafted in the first round. It’s awesome.”

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Sarkodie’s teammates were selected at No. 2 (Darlington Nagbe), No. 3 (Perry Kitchen), No. 4 (Zarek Valentin), and No. 8 (Michael Nanchoff) in the first round. Chris Korb and Anthony Ampaipitakwong were selected in the second round.

Akron’s amazing run – the Zips fell just short of the 2009 national title in a penalty shootout before winning the 2010 title – was a seminal experience for all seven players. Much of the credit has gone to head coach Caleb Porter, and Sarkodie immediately drew parallels between Porter and his new boss, Dynamo head coach Dominic Kinnear.

“It’s fantastic to be under such great leadership with coach Dominic – I can’t wait to get started,” Sarkodie said. “It’s similar to Akron with Coach Porter – you have to have a great foundation at the top, and to be under that kind of leadership for me, it’s fantastic and it gives me comfort to go into such a situation.”

Sarkodie should be plenty comfortable in elite U.S. Soccer circles. His older brothers, Kwame and Ofori, also played high-level soccer; Kwame plays for the Rochester Rhinos, and Ofori was drafted by the Kansas City Wizards after a standout career at Indiana.

“For me personally, those guys have been my inspiration,” said Kofi, the third of four Sarkodie children. “I’m learned just about everything from those guys in terms of the mentality of the game, how to be driven, and different things to work on.”

Kofi himself trained at the U.S. U-17 residency program in Bradenton, Fla., and competed in the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Korea alongside Dynamo midfielder Danny Cruz. He is currently part of the player pool for the United States U-20 national team.

“I know Danny Cruz – we played together with youth national teams, and I knew Stuart Holden when he was there,” Sarkodie said. “Those guys are fantastic, and I know coach Dominic is one of the best coaches in the league. He understands the game and knows the game, and he’s going to be able to help me continue to get better. I can’t wait. I’m excited to get started.”

The end of Sarkodie's Akron career only marks the beginning of his professional career, one Dynamo fans hope will bring similar results.