Returning from Austin loan, Ema Twumasi scores winning PK for FC Dallas
Unlike many of his FC Dallas teammates, Ema Twumasi had taken part in a playoff shootout ahead of Sunday’s victory over the Portland Timbers.
As the eighth penalty taker in a shootout that lasted well beyond the standard five kicks, Twumasi found himself exactly where he was last fall, when Austin Bold ultimately lost to Phoenix Rising in the USL Championship Playoffs. Just as he did then, Twumasi converted.
This time his ended up being the decisive kick, after Jimmy Maurer’s plunging save against Jorge Villafaña.
“I haven’t missed a game yet,” Twumasi said Tuesday, as he reflected on the journey that took him from a two-year loan with the Bold to his MLS playoff debut.
Daring fans watching the game might have been surprised to see Twumasi, given he finished the 2020 season with the Bold on October 4. Since returning to Dallas, the 23-year-old Ghanaian has appeared as a substitute in four matches, for a total of 35 minutes.
Still, he was there, called up by FCD coach Luchi González in the 80th minute of a 0-0 playoff game in Portland.
“I talked to Luchi a lot, even when I was in Austin,” Twumasi said. “He watched me a lot. We had two-way conversations. He let me know that I was still in the plans. Sometimes people walk away and they feel like they’re out of the loop. Luchi always let me know and feel like I was in his plans.
Initially, Twumasi directly replaced designated player Andrés Ricaurte, deployed as an attacking midfielder under striker Franco Jara. That changed as soon as Villafaña gave the Timbers a 1-0 lead in the 82nd minute. Twumasi continued to sink deeper into the midfield as Dallas brought in more forwards including 17-year-old Ricardo Pepi, who scored the equalizer in stoppage time.
Twumasi completed 17 of 21 assists and recovered possession five times.
“It’s a position I’ve never played before, but I’ll be honest, I really enjoyed playing it,” he said. “I feel like as a football player you always have to be prepared. This is what we do. You have to be ready for whatever the team needs. I’m glad I was able to help. “
More importantly, he has proven he can trust the team that drafted him 11th overall from Wake Forest at the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, as a talent of the Adidas generation. Much of that confidence was his production for the Bold, where he scored four goals towards the end of 2019 and added one goal and four assists this year.
“Austin definitely lifted my career,” he said. “Going to Austin, to be honest, I was in a place where I felt like the game wasn’t really fair to me. I felt like I was giving the game everything I had, and the game wasn’t showing me love in return. But then I went to Austin, I had people who loved me there on the coaching staff, Marcelo (Serrano) and (Ryan) Thompson, these guys love me and they want the best for me. They kept pushing me. They identified my weaknesses and made sure I worked on them every day.
Focus on development: Austin FC announced two hires of assistant coaches last week, both of which reinforced the club’s commitment to youth development. Nolan Sheldon is from DC United, while Rodrigo Rios is from Atlanta United academy. The two will work mainly with the first team.
Sheldon, 36, was with DC United for 10 years, starting as an assistant coach for the Under-16 academy team, before becoming academy director from 2014 to 2016 and then joining the staff. of the first team under Ben Olsen over the past four seasons. Austin FC head coach Josh Wolff and assistant Davy Arnaud both played for Olsen in Washington, before Sheldon was promoted to the first team.
Rios, 43, enjoyed a successful playing career in his homeland of Chile before moving to Atlanta as a member of the USL Silverbacks in 2005. He joined the Atlanta Academy staff. United in 2016 and was the Under-19 coach there. three years. This included the training of Wolff’s son Tyler, who is now 17, when he left the Columbus Crew academy in 2019 and finally joined Atlanta United’s first team earlier this year.
“Nolan and Rodrigo are great additions to our first team of coaches, bringing experience in MLS and international, as well as proven abilities to develop young talent through academic programs and in the first teams of MLS,” said Josh Wolff said in a statement.
HEB and Austin FC: On Monday, Austin FC and HEB announced a partnership that will make the Texas-based supermarket chain the official grocer for the team, and will include an on-site fan zone called “HEB Plaza” which will be located near the entrance. northeast of the stadium.
The organizations are also partnering with a holiday charity initiative “Season of Giving”.