FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – At first glance, Thursday’s move to acquire central midfielder Gershon Koffie from the Vancouver Whitecaps appears to be an immediate response to the loss of Xavier Kouassi, who suffered a significant knee injury with FC Sion last weekend and will undergo surgery next Tuesday.
In truth, Koffie is a player that the New England Revolution had been tracking long before Kouassi’s setback. Of course, the news that Kouassi’s expected July arrival will now be delayed did ultimately accelerate the process to acquire Koffie, but it’s a move that may well have unfolded regardless.
“We’d been in discussions with Vancouver prior to Kouassi’s injury,” said General Manager Michael Burns. “Once we got the information on Kouassi’s injury, it changed things a little bit and we proceeded a little bit more vigorously.
“But he was a player that our coaches have liked and that we’ve talked to Vancouver about over an extended period of time, certainly before [Kouassi’s] injury.”
Head coach Jay Heaps said he’s excited about the potential for Koffie – a five-year veteran of MLS with more than 100 appearances in the league – to make an immediate impact, and assistant coach Tom Soehn’s history with the player also played an invaluable role in helping push the deal through.
It was Soehn who originally spotted Koffie while on a scouting trip to Ghana in 2010. At the time Soehn was the Director of Soccer Operations for the Whitecaps, and after immediately being drawn to Koffie’s innate abilities and tactical awareness, he worked out a deal for Koffie to make the move to Canada.
“The day that I really noticed Gershon, he had about three games in one day,” Soehn said. “I had watched a couple of games with a combine that they’d put together, and then I went to watch a youth national team game. Sure enough, [Gershon] was there playing in that one, as well.”
“I definitely think there’s a connection and a bond there between those two,” Burns said of Soehn and Koffie. “I know they have a long history and I’m sure that helped us.”
When Koffie arrives in Revolution camp, he'll be aided by the presence of Soehn and former Vancouver teammates Brad Knighton, Daigo Kobayashi and Lee Nguyen.
“The exciting part is he’s been in our league for a while,” Soehn said. “There’s always that learning curve of understanding our league and he’s had time do that here.”
“There are a lot of positives about this deal for us,” said Burns. “He’s had success and he’s played in the league for a long period of time, even though he’s only 24. It’s something we feel good about. He can come in and make an immediate impact.”