Friday October 2, 2020
By Carson A Merk
Photo Credit: Blake Schultz
With the current era of soccer, you need your full-backs to provide some attacking prowess while also being responsible defensively to have a lot of success. For Greenville Triumph SC’s Abdi Mohamed, he’s made his name on that ability to get forward and lock things down at the other end.
In college, Abdi had the chance to play for two NCAA powers, spending three seasons at Ohio State before transferring to the University of Akron for his senior season. He explained, “The decision to leave Ohio State was a really tough one because that was one of the only Division 1 institutions that really gave me an opportunity. Nonetheless, the reason that I transferred was to set myself up for after college soccer.”
During that lone season with the Zips, Mohamed was a key figure in the team’s run to the National Championship. He played in each of the six NCAA Tournament matches, going the full 90 minutes in five of them. Abdi scored and assisted vs. Syracuse and added another assist vs. Wake Forest. Akron came up short in the final vs. Maryland, losing 1-0, but Abdi acknowledges the role his year in Rubber City played in his development. “Going to Akron was extremely helpful. They have a rich tradition of competing for the national championship each year and I feel like my development as a player skyrocketed due to what was expected from us by coach Jared Embick and his coaching staff,” he said.
The right-back’s accolade-filled college career was impressive enough to see him drafted by NYCFC in the second round of the 2019 MLS SuperDraft. As his professional club career has gotten started, so did Abdi’s national team career. He made his international debut for Somalia in September 2019. “Getting the call up for the national team was honestly a proud moment for me and my family. This was the first ever successful qualification matches the country has ever had and so to be able to be on the team for that was a great feeling,” he explained. While he’s eligible to play for Somalia, he was actually born in Kenya, therefore eligible for play for them as well. But, he said the decision was always going to be an easy one. “Somalia is where my parents were born and so that is who I was going to represent,” Abdi said.
After spending last season on loan with Memphis 901 FC, Abdi’s option was declined by NYCFC. In the offseason, Mohamed signed with Greenville Triumph of USL League One. In four starts, he tallied nine clearances, one key pass, and five interceptions. Triumph SC didn’t lose a single one of those matches and only conceded twice.
Despite missing some time with an injury recently, his contributions definitely helped push Greenville to the top of the USL League One table. “From our first meeting that we had as a team, the gaffa (Head Coach & Technical Director John Harkes) has always told us that we’re a great team with some tremendous individual players, and so we’re seeing the result of that right now,” he said.
Talking about how the club can avoid complacency, Mohamed said, “We just have to keep demanding high standards from each other. This is a season with a lot of games and not much time to recuperate and recovery. So as much work as we’re putting on the field with trainings/games, we have to keep doing the little things off it to get us ready for the next match.”
There’s also a very familiar face on the roster for Abdi: his cousin, Triumph winger Omar Mohamed. He described being on a team with Omar as extremely fun and noted that they grew up playing on the same travel teams in Ohio.
While both Abdi and Omar are talented players, what does one do better than the other off the pitch? Abdi answered, “Yes! This is the question I’ve been waiting for! I definitely know he’ll argue about these when this comes out, but three things that I’d say I’m better at would be cooking, actually paying attention during movies/show..(yes, he’s one of those people), and driving. I’m convinced he drives with his left foot.”
“Three things he’s better than me at include he’s definitely better at speaking in front of a crowd than I am. And as much as I hate to admit it, FIFA, 2k.”
One of the players that you might find Abdi playing FIFA with is his favorite player at his position of right-back. “Although he’s towards the end of his career right now and not playing that position, he’s arguably one of the greatest RBs ever. Dani Alves has always been a class player and his time at Barcelona was some of our most cherished moments as a FC Barcelona fan,” he said. “But I love the way he redefined the position. I try and incorporate some of his game as I, too, am attacking minded. But no doubt he’s my favorite in that position.”
“Three words I’d use to describe my game would be: attacking, calm, competitive.”
The next chance for Triumph SC to increase its first-place lead will be tomorrow night against Orlando City B at Legacy Early College. Kickoff is set for 7 PM ET and the match will be live on ESPN+.