Gershon Koffie primed to be integral in Vancouver’s midfield

Gershon Koffie

Gershon Koffie

The Vancouver Whitecaps’ season is just around the corner as Saturday’s opening fixture against Toronto FC at BC Place Stadium quickly approaches.

One constant player who started and played ninety minutes in the first Whitecaps MLS match back in 2011 is Gershon Koffie. The longest tenured Vancouver Whitecaps player is entering a season that will be the most important in the Ghanaian midfielder’s development since signing with Vancouver on February 9, 2011.

Players, managers, philosophy, match tactics, and plenty of kit changes have taken place since Vancouver defeated Toronto FC 4-2 at Empire Field on March 19, 2011. Gershon Koffie has been with the Whitecaps organization for four years and he recognizes the changes, progression and improvement the team is making each year.

“I think every year we have players going out and players coming in. That doesn’t really change a lot of things, but it changes the people that were around you the year before. Every year it keeps improving and I can see that it’s improving already, we’re getting together with each other.”

The 23 year-old Koffie was is still somewhat behind the eight ball after battling a never-ending flu virus during training camp in early February. Team doctors decided it would be best for Koffie to leave Tucson, Arizona and recuperate back in Vancouver while the Whitecaps continued with matches and preseason preparation in Arizona.

“I wouldn’t say that I’m a bit behind, but I missed a couple of days of training. I have to put in more work, and more extra time to get back my fitness level.”

Gershon Koffie was hobbled with a nagging foot injury during the Whitecaps stretch run to a playoff berth last season. He was only able to play 29 minutes in the Caps final 12 matches. Koffie started 17 matches in Carl Robinson’s inaugural season, and contributed one goal and one assist.

Koffie was often used in a 4-2-3-1 and 4-4-2 diamond formation as a holding midfielder alongside Matias Laba. Koffie enjoys playing as a holding midfielder, but also knows that he needs to step up in other areas of the pitch as well.

“Yeah, I love playing the holding midfield and I also love doing the box to box, but if we do have one holding midfielder which Matias Laba does a lot, I don’t think I should be there next to the holding midfielder. We’re not progressing, one has to get to the box more, which the coaches have given me the license to do.”

It’s no secret that the Whitecaps need to score more goals. Vancouver scored 42 goals last season and ranked last among the 10 MLS playoff teams. Octavio Rivero, Darren Mattocks, Pedro Morales, Kekuta Manneh, and Erik Hurtado will be counted on to boost the Caps goal scoring efforts, and midfielders like Gershon Koffie, Russell Teibert and winger Mauro Rosales also need to find the back of the net. The coaches have told Koffie to get forward more and he is well aware of the task at hand.

“The coaches have been talking to me since last year that I should get to the box more. The more you get to the box the more goals you are going to score. We’re working on it and hopefully I’ll be going up more.”

If Gershon Koffie can continue to improve in his development and remain as a footballer playing in Canada he could eventually land a massive long shot opportunity playing for the Canadian Men’s National team. While social media seems to have already placed a Koffie in a Canada kit, he is in no rush to sort out his confusing international playing status. Koffie offered up a unique response.

“(Laughs) About the Canadian national team and the Ghana national team, I’m just loving to play for whoever gives me the invitation to play. I’m not really interested in playing for the national team whether for Ghana or Canada. I’m living a good life and taking care of my family. If it happens, it’s a plus and I’ll take it.”

Gershon Koffie is not the forgotten man, he is an important part of the Whitecaps team and this season will be a crucial season in his development with Vancouver. If he can put his injury from last season behind him and take a big leap, the Whitecaps will have a terrific player that they can sell or keep

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