BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – If there’s a more positive man in MLS than Quincy Amarikwa, then, to be honest, I’d like to shake that man’s hand.
The charismatic striker has blazed an unassuming trail against MLS defenses in his second year with the Chicago Fire, and is poised to end the season as the club’s top scorer and only eighth Fire player to break double figures in regular-season goals.
On top of that, the California-native has transferred his energetic, never-say-die, on-field personality onto the small screen in the form of his popular YouTube series "QuincyTime", which has attracted thousands of admirers with its unique mix of soccer, comedy, and its “Quinc-essential” centerpiece, the QuincyTime Challenge.
The 26-year-old currently leads the Fire’s scoring charts on eight goals, and with five games remaining and a place in the playoffs still mathematically in reach, Amarikwa is looking to improve on that, more for the good of the team than for any personal glory.
“That’s the plan, put a couple more in before the end of the year and hopefully put a few more in when we make the playoffs,” Amarikwa told MLSsoccer.com.
“That’s what we’re focused on doing and we still have a chance at it, and I don’t think our focus has changed from that. If, at the end of the year, I can be at the top of the scoring, that’s great too, but I’m more concerned with what we’re doing as a team.”
Head coach Frank Yallop’s faith in the relatively untried and untested Amarikwa has been vindicated by a series of top drawer performances, although the Fire’s chances of making the playoffs took a serious blow following their 2-0 defeat at the Houston Dynamo on Sunday.
That leaves the Fire (5-8-16, 31pts) ten points shy of the fifth-placed New York Red Bulls with five games to go, with a trip to fellow playoff hopefuls the Philadelphia Union critical to both teams’ aspirations.
“I think Quincy has started to feel more confident,” Yallop said of Amarikwa. “He’s had a good year, he’s been dangerous, he’s been good – I’ve been pleased with Quincy.”
A quick look at the all-action Amarikwa’s statistics for the season offers a simple illustration as to why the Fire’s No. 24 has become such a focal point of the team, despite their unspectacular season.
In 24 starts, Amarikwa leads the Fire’s stats with eight goals, most shots (61), most shots on goal (22), most fouls suffered (81), most penalties drawn (five), most fouls committed (47), most off-sides (18), five yellow cards and one red card. Only Lovel Palmer, with six, has more yellow cards, which shows that the combative Amarikwa is also well able to dish it out when he needs to.
Amarikwa’s influence on the team has become more pronounced since the recent season-ending injury to Mike Magee, and with the arrival of fellow strikers Robert Earnshaw and Florent Sinama-Pongolle, Amarikwa has taken his game to another level as the season reaches its climax.
Amarikwa, the former San Jose, Colorado, and Toronto attacker, added: “We’ve proven this year that we’re hard to beat. We haven’t gotten as many wins as we’d like, but one penalty kick, one play, one set-piece can change that. If we go on a streak here at the end of the year we can sneak in, so that’s what we’re looking to do and that’s what we’re trying to do.”
WATCH: #QuincyTime Webisodes Playlist