United’s newest acquisition, Kennedy Igboananike, made his D.C. United debut as a 64th-minute substitute in the 1-1 draw against Montreal on July 31. The Nigerian forward gave fans a brief glimpse of the attacking flair and lightning pace that he brings to the team. After only making his transition to the Nation’s capital two days prior to the match after his transfer from the Chicago Fire, Igboananike is eager to continue getting minutes on the field and adapt to Olsen’s style of play ahead of United's next match against the Philadelphia Union.
“It feels great. I’m still learning how to play with the boys,” said Igboananike in reference to making his D.C. United debut. “It’s my first time, I trained with them yesterday, so I just need a little bit of time to adapt to the system of how they are playing, but I think I will come into the team as quick as possible.”
There were multiple times in Igboananike’s 26-minute cameo where the winger got himself into positions to threaten Montreal. His close ball control and pace enabled him to hassle the Montreal backline on offense in addition to providing defensive support.
“We had to bring in Igboananike in more of a defensive role out of necessity,” said Ben Olsen about Igboananike helping support the defense in the last 30 minutes of the match.
In United’s 4-1-4-1 formation, Igboananike is able to ply his trade either on the wing or as an out-and-out forward for the Black-and-Red. The 27-year-old will look to light up the flanks with his pace while also being given the opportunity to cut inside and go at defenders 1-on-1. Igboananike can also be played up top as a number nine and use his strength and athleticism to hold up the ball as well as giving United an outlet with his pace on through balls behind opposing back lines.
One of the Nigerian’s greatest traits is his poise in possession and ability to carve out opportunities by using his speed to get into attacking positions. His deft touch and movement will give Ben Olsen and D.C. United a new attacking edge going into the game against Philadelphia on August 6.