I've always wondered why MLS hasn't scouted for more African born players in the past. I know the best of the bunch pretty much automatically get scooped up in Europe but it is definitely a fertile ground for young talent. That said, It seems that in the past year or so more African talent has made it's way to the league from various career paths.
I decided to do this post because I was curious to know which players came from the NCAA ranks and which came directly from African clubs. These are a few short biographies of the African born players currently playing in Major League Soccer and how they were recognized and signed with the league.
Bakary Soumare (Mali - Chicago Fire)
Born in Mali but moved to Paris at a young age, before moving to New York as a teen. Played for the University of Virginia before being drafted 2nd by Chicago in the 2007 SuperDraft.
Patrick Nyarko (Ghana - Chicago Fire)
Born in Ghana, was met by Virginia Tech coach on a recruiting trip to Ghana. Nyarko helped Virginia Tech to the NCAA Final Four while there and was drafted 7th by the Fire in the 08 SuperDraft.
Emmanuel Ekpo (Nigeria - Columbus Crew)
Was playing in the Nigerian League with Enyimba FC last season before being picked up by the Crew in April of 2008.
Stanley Nyazamba (Zimbabwe - Columbus Crew)
Born in Zimbabwe, Nyazamba played college soccer with Lee University in Tennessee before eventually moving to USL2 with the Richmond Kickers. In 2008 he was the rookie of the year in USL2 and he recently signed with the Crew.
Ibrahim Koroma (Sierra Leone - DC United)
Koroma played on the Sierra Leone Premier League side Kallon FC before signing with DC United on September 12, 2008.
Thabiso Khumalo (South Africa - DC United)
Khumalo moved to the USA at the age of 16 and played college soccer at Coastal Carolina University. He then spent a few years bouncing around MLS, PDL, USL, and South Africa, before being signed on a loan deal to DC United from the USL2 Pittsburgh Riverhounds in September 2008.
Louis Crayton (Liberia - DC United)
Crayton has spent most of his professional career since 1997 playing in Switzerland with various clubs. In August 2008 he was signed by DC United from FC Basel.
Francis Doe (Liberia - DC United)
Doe has played in Greece, Ghana, Cameroon, and USL before being signed by Red Bull New York in 2007 and now DC United in 2008.
Kheli Dube (Zimbabwe - New England Revolution)
Dube was playing in Zimbabwe before moving to the USA to play with Coastal Carolina University. He then went on to help the Michigan Bucks reach the PDL championship games in 2006 and 2007. He was picked up by the New England Revolution in the 2008 MLS Supplemental Draft.
Kenny Mansally (The Gambia - New England Revolution)
Mansally was discovered by New England at the 2007 U-20 World Cup and was signed shortly after.
Sainey Nyassi (The Gambia - New England Revolution)
Like Mansally, was discovered at the U-20 World Cup before signing with the Revs.
Danleigh Borman (South Africa - New York Red Bulls)
The South African Native came to the US to play college soccer with the University of Rhode Island. He then played for PDL's Rhode Island Stingrays before being picked up in the Supplemental Draft by New York.
Sainey Touray (The Gambia - New York Red Bulls)
Touray was playing with Wallidan FC in the Gambian First Division before going on trial with New York and eventually signing in August.
Macoumba Kandji (Senegal - New York Red Bulls)
The big forward, currently on loan to New York from USL's Atlanta Silverbacks, came to the US as an 18 year old where he attended high school for a year before moving on to play soccer at Georgia Military College.
Bouna Coundoul (Senegal - Colorado Rapids)
Bouna came to the USA and played with Martin L King Jr. High School in NYC and later with the Univeristy of Albany, SUNY. Bouna then signed with the Colorado Rapids in 2005.
Mehdi Ballouchy (Morocco - Colorado Rapids)
Ballouchy moved to the United States in 2000 at age 17. He played for a year with Creighton University in Nebraska and two years with Santa Clara in California before signing a Generation Adidas contract with MLS. Before coming to the US he was playing with the Raja Casablanca youth system.
Dominic Oduro (Ghana - FC Dallas)
Oduro started out at the University of Ghana before transferring to Virginia Commonwealth University in 2004. He was then seleceted 22nd overall in the 2006 MLS SuperDraft by Dallas.
Kei Kamara (Sierra Leone - Houston Dynamo)
Kei came over from Sierra Leone to play college soccer a Cal State Dominguez Hills. He then spent a couple of seasons with PDL powerhouse Orange County Blue Star before being selected by Columbus in the 2006 SuperDraft.
Guy Roland-Kpene (Ivory Coast - Houston Dynamo)
Guy came to the US in 2003 at the age of 20 and played some college soccer at both Westchester Community College and Dowling College on Long Island. He made 16 appearances with DC before being signed by Houston in May.
Davide Somma (South Africa - San Jose Earthquakes)
23 year old Somma recently signed a developmental contract with San Jose after spending a few years in the lower divisions of Italian soccer.