Four days before the Chicago Fire’s March 24 home opener, Dominic Oduro was on a practice field next to Toyota Park in Bridgeview. As the wind whipped his blue training jersey, the wiry striker from Ghana worked through drills, dishing out one-touch passes and receiving through-balls in a short-sided game. But each time Oduro found himself with room to run, the end line of the condensed field was there to meet him. He was itching to stretch his legs.
“I’m the fastest man in MLS, so I don’t worry, I will run a lot this season,” Oduro said after the practice, flashing a toothy smile.
Built like a marathoner, Oduro was once clocked at 4.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash and may very well be the fastest soccer player in America. He said he could beat that time today—and his highlight montages back up his claims.
“He can run, that’s for sure,” Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson said of Oduro after an exhibition last summer. “It’s crazy,” echoed Patrick Nyarko, Oduro’s teammate and fellow Ghanian. “It doesn’t matter where I put the ball, he can run it down.”
Before Oduro arrived in Chicago, he was nothing but a runner—across the pitch and from city to city. At 25, the former first-round MLS draft-pick was a journeyman, having played for three teams in six seasons, once traded two times in five months. His rap was all speed, no touch. When an early-season deal last year brought Oduro to Chicago he was an afterthought, swapped for an injured forward. In a new town on a new team, though, the runner has become a scorer. Oduro had 12 goals last season, good for fifth in the league and the highest output by a Fire player since 2004. He’s added three more in six games this year.
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