In this edition of Burning Questions we sat down with midfielder Patrick Nyarko. Now in his fifth season with the Fire, Patrick has scored three goals and leads the team with six assists. A native of Kumasi, Ghana, Patrick was a standout at Virginia Tech before he was drafted in the first round (7th overall) of the 2008 MLS SuperDraft. Patrick took the time to answer our Burning Questions about his table tennis prowess, his sneaker collection and what a typical day entails for him.
Always on the Inside: You’re often regarded as one of the best table tennis players on the team. How did you get to be so good?
Patrick Nyarko: I put in the work while I was growing up. It was such that if you played a game, it was a commercial table tennis table, so you had to pay if you lost; you didn’t want to waste your lunch money. So you had to win by all means. If you didn’t get good you were going to lose all of your money.
WATCH: Nyarko Scores in the 1st minute vs. HOU
AOTI: Your bio in the media guide says your favorite thing to eat is soup. What kind of soup and where’s the best place to find it in Chicago?
PN: Peanut Butter soup. I’ve not found the best in Chicago. For really authentic soup you have to go back to Ghana so I haven’t really found anything close. I don’t really eat it. I don’t want to offend my mom.
AOTI: One of your strengths as a player is your speed. Are you fast in other aspects of life?
PN: I do eat pretty quickly. I’ve been in cars with some pretty crazy drivers like Dominic [Oduro], and I don’t think I drive as fast as him but I don’t like to drive slow.
I like to get things done quickly, if I have to. If you go in my apartment it’s really not clean because I don’t have to because I live alone, but if I actually have to I’ll get it done quickly.
AOTI: As a professional athlete you have a bit of a non-traditional schedule. What’s a typical day like for you after you leave Toyota Park?
PN: Once I go sit on my couch I’m stuck for the rest of the day. If I have to run errands and stuff I do it all before I go home. Even if it takes six hours, I’d like to get it done before I sit on the couch. I don’t know what’s wrong with the couch or where it came from, but I just cannot get off of it.
I usually watch a little TV, catch up on shows and world news. I like Tyler Perry shows like “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne.” And I love “Two and a Half Men.” I’ve started watching every season.
AOTI: Are there other soccer teams or leagues that you follow?
PN: I’m a huge fan of Manchester United. I don’t miss an EPL game if I don’t have to. I’m really not huge into other leagues. I’ll watch Barcelona and I’ll watch Real Madrid play but I don’t watch the Italian league or Bundesliga. It’s very limited. I love the EPL.
AOTI: You’re a bit of a sneaker head. What got you interested in shoes and what’s your favorite pair that you own?
PN: As a kid I always loved sneakers but growing up in Africa we weren’t that well-off to get enough sneakers. I had one pair per year. When I came to the States for school and I got two pairs in college, it was like Christmas for me. I signed with adidas and I started getting all these sneakers. The love of sneakers grew after I signed with them. They make some great shoes.
The best pair I have are from adidas; they’re called Ransoms.
AOTI: You currently have three goals on the season. This is only your second multi-goal season after 2009 in which you scored four goals. To what do you attribute your offensive output this season?
PN: I think I’ve always had adequate offensive production, not in terms of goals but I led the team in assists for the last couple of years. I think this year I’m more comfortable. I’ve been working a lot with the coaching staff in terms of confidence in front of the goal and stuff like that. I know I still have a ways to go but I’m happy it’s imporving and hopefully by the end of the year I can have a couple more goals.
AOTI: Do you have any pre-game rituals?
PN: Not really. I just show up and I’m good to go.
AOTI: What is the best advice you have ever received?
PN: Always persevere. If you try once and you don’t succeed that doesn’t mean it’s the end. Just keep persisting. I’m very persistent in more ways than one.