With a little over a week before MLS rosters freeze, D.C. United made what could be a big move, signing Ghana national team member Samuel Inkoom today. Inkoom, at 25 years old, already has two World Cups under his belt for the Black Stars as well as 46 caps for one of Africa's top sides. Typically a right back, Inkoom also has experience playing right midfield and left back, two positions at which United's depth has been tested throughout 2014.
After debuting as a 17 year old in the Ghanaian top division with Sekondi Hasaacas, Inkoom moved to Europe before his 20th birthday by transferring to Swiss power FC Basel (the club United acquired Louis Crayton from a few years ago). After 65 appearances in the Swiss top flight over two seasons, Inkoom moved to Dniprop Dnipropetrovsk in Ukraine's first division. He appeared 31 times over a season and a half before being loaned out to Ligue 1 side SC Bastia for the latter half of the 2013 season (where he played only four times).
After returning to Dnipro Inkoom was again loaned out, this time to Platanias of the Greek first division. This was a better landing spot, as the "Red Shamrock" gave him 15 appearances this past spring. During his time in Europe, Inkoom played six UEFA Champions League games - notching a goal and an assist - as well as six Europa League games and eight qualifying round games split evenly between the two competitions.
Inkoom's debut for Ghana came at just 19 years old, just in time to force his way into the 2010 World Cup squad. After staying on the bench throughout the group stage, he went 113 minutes against the USMNT at right midfield before starting again against Uruguay in their memorable quarterfinal defeat. Inkoom was again on the Ghana roster for the 2014 World Cup, but this time did not enter a game.
While the name "Samuel Inkoom" is not world-famous, it's not every day that MLS teams land 25 year olds with multiple World Cups and Champions League matches on their resume. Inkoom - who is available to play in tomorrow's game against the Vancouver Whitecaps - should be considered a contender to start at all three of the positions he's got experience at.
While it's difficult to imagine all-star Sean Franklin losing his spot at right back, we may first see Inkoom break into the team on the opposite flank. Taylor Kemp has exceeded expectations since recovering from a troubling outing against Houston, but if Inkoom is truly a comfortable left back it would be hard to argue against a player with his background taking the job until Chris Korb returns to fitness. Meanwhile, Nick DeLeon has done a reasonable job at right midfield, but a) is the most vulnerable member of the front six to being replaced based on performance and b) may be shifted out to the left side to cover for Chris Rolfe for the next six weeks anyway.
Inkoom's versatility will pose some hard-to-answer questions for Ben Olsen, but this is the kind of problem you want to have. If everyone is fit and guys like DeLeon, Korb, and Kemp can keep a World Cup veteran on the bench, it means that United is playing extremely well. If they can't, that's fine too; it means that United's starting eleven has improved.