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The One Ring: Scouting David Accam

Hot Time In Old Town blogger Sean Spence gives us his thoughts on what to expect from David Accam.

SOCCER: OCT 15 MLS - Philadelphia Union at Chicago Fire Photo by Patrick Gorski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

After three years of minute observation, I still have a hard time describing David Accam without resorting to references to primal forces - gravity, or quantum connectedness, or that moment when the prey realizes there is no end here save their own. He’s lightning in a bottle. He’s the One Ring. He’s irresistible, powerful, and terrifying, a MacGuffin whose power is transmuting failure into success. He’s the most gifted player to ever wear the Fire badge, which is saying something. And he’s yours now, y’bastards.

Accam is one of those players whose game paints a picture of his development. His first and greatest gift is obviously his ability to run like the wind; when comfortable and healthy, just watching David run around the field can be exhilarating. He’s also explosively quick, and his basic array of touches and attacking moves leverage his physical trump cards to the hilt, a testament to a childhood spent fashioning chances against bigger kids as a tyro in Accra - chipping his first touch into space behind a hard-closing defender, for example.

When he arrived in Chicago, Accam’s decision-making could be a problem - he was regarded as selfish, constantly going 1-on-3 in transition instead of playing his teammates into the attack. Weirdly, that criticism (and the play that prompted it) vanished in 2017 as the playing level of his teammates skyrocketed - gone was the ‘selfish’ David, and in his place was a complete, mature wing forward. So was it David, or was it the environment? I guess you’re about to find out.

In short, the Union are getting a guy who, on his day, is the most-dangerous flank player in MLS. Watch for subtle changes in foes - I wasn’t kidding when I said I compare Accam to gravity, because he distorts defensive shapes the way a singularity distorts gravitational fields - the defense, aware that there’s a demigod of lightning on its wing, starts to hedge that way, pulling at the cohesion of the lines, making coordination difficult. The right center back edges toward his side, ready to help - where’s CJ Sapong? Where’s Ilsinho? Thriving in the spaces that’re left, that’s where.

Every easy solution comes pre-corrupted. Once you’re used to that sort of space, it’s hard to do without it. Prolonged use creates a dependence that David simply isn’t interested in serving - and this is where King David (as his Twitter handle styles him) can infuriate as well as delight. He’s desperately ambitious and clearly aware of his limited shelf-life as a player, which means that he has a Fickle Cycle timed in precise synchrony with the transfer windows. He wants to go to a bigger club, always. He wants more money, always. Who can blame him? No gift from the gods lasts long, and Accam’s gifts are copious.

The remorseless grinding of time will also have its say here. When Accam arrived in Chicago, he had just turned 24, an age where the runway looks long and the list of potential destinations longer - today he is 27. He will never get less prone to injury, and it’s not easy to rest a guy who opens so many things up going forward. He started 23 games for the Fire last season, which was a career high.

If Jim Curtin and staff can keep Accam healthy and happy, $1.2 million was a great deal. If not, well, things are always interesting in Philadelphia, eh?