Abdoukarim Danso of the Lansdowne Bhoys FC at Highmark Stadium, home of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds during the 2016 US Open Cup.
Sometimes you just have to ride the hot goalie.
That’s the cliché in the National Hockey League, where sometimes you can win the Stanley Cup with one guy standing on his head for the entire tournament.
Sometimes the strategy works in soccer too. Lansdowne Bhoys goalkeeper Abdoukarim Danso was voted TheCup.us Player Of The Round for Round 2 thanks to an excellent performance in a 2-0 road upset over the USL’s Pittsburgh Riverhounds.
If you’re going to spring the upset on the road against a pro team, it’s hard to overvalue the performance of your goalkeeper. Danso faced 14 shots on the night and saved three of them, earning himself a clean sheet in his team’s 2-0 upset over Pittsburgh. The magnitude of the upset no doubt played a part in voters’ decisions. The 27 year old Gambian international managed to beat out San Antonio FC’s Jacques Francois, who scored twice and assisted on the third in his team’s 3-1 win over Corinthians of San Antonio, by just two votes.
Aside from Francois, the voting was very netminder heavy this round. Other players receiving strong consideration include Chattanooga FC goalkeeper Tom Halsall and Los Angeles Wolves goalkeeper Kifi Kalani.
Or maybe this is just the Year Of The Goalkeeper. Fans of the Open Cup will recall that Round 1’s Player Of the Round award went to Detroit City FC’s Evan Louro, who notched 13 saves to help his team get to a shootout where he proceeded to come up two additional stops. Keep an eye on the goalkeepers throughout the rest of the tournament; shootouts are always going to be part of any Cup competition.
“It was a excellent game because I was top of my game [against Pittsburgh],” said Danso. “My teammates and the coaching staff gave me the go [ahead] to command and control the the defense . I make [some] classic saves and I was very commanding coming for crosses and set-pieces. After all is was great team win.”
Lansdowne Bhoys (Danso is in pink) pose for a team photo before their 2016 US Open Cup match vs. Long Island Rough Riders.
The 28-year-old, who goes by the childhood nickname “Kabo,” arrived in New York City from Gambia in 2013 where he was part of the pool for his home country’s Under-23 National Team. He played in a local tournament and Lansdowne Bhoys head coach Austin Friel noticed him and eventually signed him to the club.
“Kabo is an excellent goalkeeper and should be playing at a higher level,” said Friel. “He the best goalkeeper in amateur football throughout America. This award is well deserved.”
Danso is hoping that his performance in the US Open Cup will help him achieve his goal of playing at the professional level. The word is starting to get out about him as he recently trained with New York City FC (MLS) and the Carolina RailHawks (NASL). He also hopes that with some professional experience, he has the talent to one day represent Gambia at the senior international level.
One might think Danso would be the first Gambian to win the Player of the Round award but he’s actually the third. Sainey Touray of the Harrisburg City Islanders won the award in the 2012 Fourth Round for the City Islanders’ upset of the New York Red Bulls (MLS). The first was Sanna Nyassi of the Seattle Sounders who became the first player in the Modern Era to score multiple goals in a US Open Cup Final when the Sounders beat the Columbus Crew in 2010.
The award is voted on by TheCup.us staff and a select panel from the North American Soccer Reporters.
Past Player of the Round winners:
Round 1: Evan Louro – Detroit City FC
Round 2: Abdoukarim Danso – Lansdowne Bhoys
Josh Hakala also contributed to this story