PHILADELPHIA – For years, Francis Atuahene and Ema Twumasi walked down similar paths. They got their start in Ghana before joining the country’s elite young players at the Right to Dream academy. Eventually, the two came to Connecticut, where their paths split heading towards college soccer.
As the two realized their professional dream at Friday’s MLS Draft, they learned that their paths would once again be intertwined with a club that very much fits their styles as players.
Following a trade that saw the club snag the fourth overall pick in Friday’s draft, FC Dallas selected Atuahene, widely seen as the most dynamic and athletic forward/winger in the draft. Seven picks later, the club snagged Twumasi, adding another talented winger to a team that has built a culture around attacking and attacking well.
Formerly teammates as kids in Ghana, Atuahene and Twumasi played together several times after meeting in 2007 and kept in close contact throughout their college careers. Now, the two are unexpectedly teammates once again as they kickstart their professional careers thousands of miles away from home.
“Here we are. Back again together,” Atuahene told SBI with a smile. “I’m excited to be his teammate and I’m excited to go to Dallas and I’m excited to start playing already.”
“I think it’s very special,” Twumasi added. “I wasn’t expecting to be on the same team as him. It’s a blessing for the two of us to be on the same team. I can’t wait to work with him.”
In Atuahene, FC Dallas adds a dynamic young winger that has the pace and one-on-one ability be be a major asset to the FC Dallas attack. In a team that likes to play quick attacking soccer, Atuahene seems a perfect piece for Oscar Pareja’s system.
The Michigan star was viewed as a likely top five selection heading into Friday, and he insisted he went into the draft with an open mind. He had a nice conversation with Pareja during the pre-draft process, but wasn’t sure of anything heading into the draft.
Atuahene’s athleticism was what endeared many teams to him throughout the pre-draft process, but Pareja sees a bit more in the young forward than just pure speed.
“I see two things. First the physical capacity that he has to take on people and use his speed. I also saw some different IQ there in the last third. I thought he has those instincts in the last third where you can put him in a good spot in MLS.”
“We had a nice conversation about their team, their style, their culture and the way they play,” Atuahene told SBI, “and that was basically my style of play. It was an instant connection right away.”
For Twumasi, the connection with FC Dallas was even a bit bigger. His former teammate, Jacori Hayes, was selected by FC Dallas in the 2017 draft. Fellow Wake Forest product Brandon Servania was recently signed by the club as a Homegrown player.
Twumasi’s combine was up and down, as his stock fell a bit throughout the week. However, the Wake winger’s resume speaks for itself. In Twumasi, FC Dallas gets another attacking winger that is a comfortable two-way player after developing with the Demon Deacons.
“I love their playstyle and how hard they attack,” Twumasi said, “and I think it fits me perfectly. I can’t wait to get started.
“I didn’t expect to get Ema at 11, to be quite honest with you,” Pareja added. “I was aiming for the two of them and another player on my wish list. Out of the three, I got two. It was a luxury to have Ema at 11. I think he complements well with the players that we have.”
Getting the two individually was definitely a positive for Pareja. But getting them together? Even better.
“For sure they can help each other because they have developed in their early years together,” Pareja said. “They will feel more familiar being close to each other. That’s a positive thing for us. ”
With that in mind, the two can help each other through an adjustment process that begins pretty quickly. With CONCACAF Champions League play looming, the two will join FC Dallas camp on Monday.
They’ll face plenty of competition in an FC Dallas team that still has plenty of attacking talent as Roland Lamah and Michael Barrios headline the wing options. Twumasi and Atuahene face some competition in breaking into that group when training begins but the two took the time to enjoy both their reunion.
Friday was the start of their own individual dreams as a professional and, against all odds, it begins together.
“Everything was exciting. It’s what I’ve been dreaming of: the opportunity to be a professional player,” Twumasi said. ” It’s exciting to see the day has finally come. I’m excited to get to training camp and do what it takes to be on the team.
“There’s going to be competition everywhere,” Atuahene added. “I’m just going to go in there, work hard, listen and do my best every day.”