After missing most of April and May with a hamstring injury, Patrick Nyarko’s return to the lineup this past month has been a welcome addition for the Black-and-Red.
Nyarko injured his hamstring in the 59th minute of United’s 2-1 win over New York City FC, casting a dark cloud over an otherwise joyful day for the club.
The Ghanaian returned on May 31 as a sub in the 69th minute against Orlando City, but his best moment of the season to date came on June 21 against Atlanta United.
As one of United’s primary creators, Nyarko played an integral part in helping his team break out of their goal scoring slump. In the recent 2-1 win over Atlanta, the Black-and-Red had missed some chances early in the second half, but he wasn’t worried.
“For a creative player like I am, I get concerned if we’re not creating chances,” Nyarko said. “I’m not worried if we’re not scoring. If we’re not creating, I’ll be worried.”
His chance came in the 60th min thanks to a cross from Chris Korb that was headed onward by Ian Harkes. He chested the ball up, then took it out of the air and coolly slotted it to the far post for the eventual game winner.
“I just positioned myself in the box like I’d been doing all game,” Nyarko said. “It set up well for me [and] I hit through it. Luckily it went in.”
Nyarko often finds himself near the goal. Even though he's only played 10 matches this year, he is fourth on the team in touches inside the opposition box with 29. Against Atlanta, he took six shots, all of which were inside the box.
Being such a creative player has physical consequences, however. The Virginia Tech grad is currently third in fouls suffered among active players and 19th all-time with 449, three spots behind United coach Ben Olsen.
“He’s a very well-rounded wide midfielder in this league,” Olsen said. “His hold-up play is good—he allows us to come into the attack, he’s able to go after you 1v1, he’s able to do defensive work, he’s very unpredictable, he’s got a final product—so in MLS, sometimes you get two out of four boxes you want to check on a wide guy. He’s got a lot of them and that’s why he’s so vital to us.”
Nyarko and company now have a quick turnaround for a trip to Montreal on Saturday at 7 PM.