Dominic Oduro: Chicago’s Odd Man Out?

Oh Dom. What on earth will the Fire do with you? (photo: zimbio.com)

Oh Dom. What on earth will the Fire do with you? (photo: zimbio.com)

Where (if anywhere) will forward Dominic Oduro fit in with Chicago Fire in 2013?

Chicago fans are all too familiar with the self-proclaimed “Mr. Freaky Fast.” The man from Ghana with the million-dollar smile. The striker who all but disappeared in 2012. And while the Fire’s 2011 MVP and Golden Boot winner provided fans with plenty of thrills (as well as enjoyable promo spots) in the past, it’s unlikely Fire Nation will see much of Dominic Oduro in 2013. Unless he can re-discover his 2011 form, the recent acquisitions of Maicon Santos and Joel Lindpere will likely drive Oduro further down the depth chart and anchor the Ghanaian striker firmly to the place he doesn’t want to be: the bench.

If Dominic Oduro is to stay with the Fire, how will he react to (presumably) being #4 on the forward depth chart? With the arrival of Lindpere (and the promise he’ll play centrally), Chris Rolfe should move up top where he belongs. If manager Frank Klopas decides to deviate from his norm and go with a 4-4-2 tactical formation, this still leaves Oduro (again, presumably) on the bench with Santos. And in the Gaffer’s ‘ol standby 4-3-2-1, the likelihood of Oduro getting minutes up top further decreases, as Santos would likely spill Sherjill MacDonald as the lone striker.

At the same time though, there are perhaps other options for the Dommer. Maybe he’d be amenable to playing on the wing? Such a move (if effective), would likely allow him more minutes with the Fire in 2013 – especially now that El Flaco will likely go party with the sheiks in Qatar (give us that #QatariLikeMoney). But, is a position switch for Oduro likely, or even possible?

Tweed Thornton, writer for Hot Time in Old Town, seems to think that “Oduro has been very effective on the wing in the past,” while our own Rob Thompson believes the Ghanaian striker, despite his ability to create space with his speed, “needs more technique to breakdown defenses to be effective.”

As for me, I’m torn. On one hand, Oduro has shown signs of effectiveness in (very) limited action on the wing. Plus, as our man Stephen Mangat so eloquently puts it, “Although Oduro can be very sloppy at times, I have seen him absolutely eviscerate defenses on multiple occasions. When he’s at his best, he’s simply unplayable and opponents are at his mercy for sustained periods of games. Unfortunately, his sloppy finishing results in him scoring one goal when he should have two or three, and zero goals when he should have one.”

Stephen goes on: “Oduro is very much a one-dimensional player that relies on his speed, yet he is so fast that he is one of the few players in the league who can survive by relying on one attribute alone. In fact, is there anyone else in the league who, at the same time, is as technically limited and dangerous?”

And finally, Mangat adds: “In a way, Oduro reminds me of Mac Kandji: he’s a physical presence who can take over games, yet is often let down by his [lack of] skill. Kandji was super inconsistent with NYRB, but seems to have found his spot in Houston. [Mac’s] still frustrating to watch, but he works harder than he did in NY, and since he’s not the main goalscorer, he’s far less annoying when he misses. Basically, [Dominic] Kinnear put Kandji in a place where he does what he does best – run around, take dudes on, and cause problems with his strength and speed. Could Klopas do the same with Oduro?”

Maybe. But all that said, my gut tells me that ultimately, Rob is right. Except as a change of pace sub, I just don’t see Oduro on the wing. But what do I know? Perhaps the Dommer’s got it in him to learn and excel at a new position. But here’s the rub: as far as opponents are concerned, the jig may be up on Dominic Oduro.

Tactically, opposing managers assign a defensive midfielder to slow Oduro’s runs on the counterattack, which usually creates enough time for the central defense to get back into position and neutralize him. And even if Dom gets clear in the final third (with defenders racing backward to keep pace) his tunnel vision and poor technique prevent him from either making a timely pass to an attacking teammate, or putting the ball in the back of the net – which is what he gets paid to do.

Despite his performance with Chicago during the 2011 season (which, I’m afraid, will prove a fluke), Houston Dynamo knew they had a one-trick pony in Oduro when they traded him for forward Calen Carr. And while 2011 had Fire Nation convinced they came out on the right side of the deal, I’m afraid 2012 proved Dominic Kinnear and the Houston technical staff correct.

Based on Oduro’s 2012 performance, it appears MLS teams figured out how to neutralize Chicago’s speedster. Dom’s pace no longer compensates for his limited ball skills and marginal soccer I.Q. To be fair however, Frank Klopas’s 4-2-3-1 does the Dommer no favors. He’s more effective in a 4-4-2 or 4-3-3. Aside from Oduro’s woeful performances as a lone striker, Stephen’s Mac Kandji analogy provides further proof. Unless Klopas radically changes his formation, Oduro’s efficacy as a member of Chicago Fire will remain limited at best.

Let’s look at some stats, shall we? Here’s the line on Dominic Oduro during his two seasons with Chicago Fire:

Note: In 2012, four of Oduro’s six goals came in the first nine matches. Subsequently, Oduro scored only twice in 12 starts and 12 relief appearances.

Note: In 2012, four of Oduro’s six goals came in the first nine matches. Subsequently, Oduro scored only twice in 12 starts and 12 relief appearances.

The numbers don’t lie. The proof is in the Goals Per 90 Minutes and Scoring Chance Percentage pudding. There is a statistically significant drop-off from 2011 to 2012 in both categories for Oduro.

Plus, looking at the roster now (assuming Chicago will replace El Flaco, get a reserve winger, and shore up the back line…I know, that’s quite an assumption, but humor me for the moment), depending upon the opponent, as well as the health of his teammates, Dominic Oduro may not even make the Chicago Fire 18 at times in 2013. And if we are to take the player at his word, this will not stand.

A couple of months ago, when the Men in Red were cleaning out their lockers after an ignominious exit from the 2012 MLS playoffs, Oduro expressed his frustration to mlssoccer.com beat writer Anthony Zilis: “I thought even before I lost my starting position, I was playing well, the team were playing well…Up until now, I’m still trying to figure out the reason why I got benched.”

Hmm. Well, between May 12th (Oduro’s fourth goal, scored during the ninth match of the season) and July 28th (Sherjill MacDonald’s debut) Dominic Oduro scored one goal in 12 matches. Uno. And at that point in the season, the squad was certainly not assured a playoff spot.

Moreover, after the arrival of Designated Player Sherjill MacDonald, the Dommer didn’t take too kindly to his new role. “I wasn’t comfortable coming in off the bench.”

And, in what may amount to Oduro’s coup de grâce: “If I believe I deserve to play, and I feel like I’m not being utilized the way it is, like I said, at the end, you’ve got to move on.” Well then. There you have it.

But, in the end though, it’s not really up to Oduro, is it? He is, after all, under contract with Chicago Fire for 2013. But perhaps most importantly, Dom needs to ask himself if there’s another MLS club out there that thinks he’s worth his $108k (approx) salary or, for that matter, whether he remains starting XI material. I’m skeptical.

But, perhaps there’s an anemic offense out there that could use Oduro’s speed up top, especially on turf. Portland and Vancouver (a club with two first-round draft picks at #s 5 & 10) come to mind. And while they don’t play on an artificial surface, Toronto and Chivas USA could certainly use any help they can get to breathe new life into their attack.

If Chicago could unload Oduro, perhaps they could do so to bolster their back line depth, for the departure of Dan Gargan to San Jose has the Men in Red looking quite thin at defense. And now, with the likely departure of Alvaro Fernandez to Qatar, the Fire need help on the wing as well.

So what should Chicago Fire do with Dominic Oduro? 

1) Get rid of him (hard).

2) Convince him to embrace his role as a bench player (harder).

3) Convert him to a winger (hardest).

I sure hope the Klopas/Leon/Petrei triumvirate has a plan. Because if not, barring injuries, Chicago Fire will likely have some expensive weight to bear on its bench in the form of one Dominic Oduro.

Hey Vancouver, how about your #10 draft pick for Oduro, straight up? Let’s make a deal and “pop the Dom!”

14 thoughts on “Dominic Oduro: Chicago’s Odd Man Out?

  1. Just imagine if they sign the Argentine, Ivan Marcone. Dom mine as well request a transfer then. I doubt he could produce anything from the wing, all anyone had to do was just watch last season to tell he had a drop off. I say offload Dommer and Flaco, sign Marcone and use the Draft for the defensive line. I need to be a manager.

  2. A combo of #2 and #3. If we can “guarantee” a percentage of starts as a winger and a percentage of games coming off the bench then that might give him enough reason to believe he has a fighting chance at a starting spot.

  3. Ivan Marcone has the chance to play in the Copa Lib which would give him good reason not to come to the States if he chooses. He is also a center midfielder, so that gives us no help up front and his arrival would make the Fire’s center mid more crowded than it already is.

    The Fire’s forwards are Mac/Rolfe/Santos/Franco. Besides the first two, we don’t know how well Santos will play for the Fire and Franco is 36! years old. So Dom could become the 3rd forward or possibly start some games due to circumstance. Like it was said before, Dom could also be the back-up RM if Pineda can not fill into that role behind Nyarko.

    In the end, Dom has two options;
    1. Become the first choice back-up at the forward and RM spot
    2. Be Traded.

    This all depends if Klopas switches to a 4-4-2 though. And I don’t know why he wouldn’t considering he has a gluttony of choices at center mid and the forward spot. The 4-3-2-1 should not be the first formation this season.

    One last point, if people are talking about Dom’s poor technique as a winger, just have him cut into space while Anibaba overlaps. And hell, who is the Fire’s LM? You could use Dom has a backup, inverted winger on the left side so he cuts in on his strong foot while Segares overlaps. This also works out if people trust Sega going forward more so than Anibaba.

    It’s time for Klopas to switch formations and for Dom to embrace being a backup at multiple positions cause that’s how he will get more playing time. These two things also give Klopas the ability to shore up the defense in the draft and trade one of our many center mids for help somewhere else. Most of those mids also get paid A LOT less than Dom does as well.

  4. You mention a 4-3-3, and that would be interesting, though probably requires more imagination than Klopas could muster. But with the amount of central midfielders the Fire have, this allows to get a lot of them out there at once. Lindpere and/or Alex ahead of one or two of Paladini, Pause, or Pardo? You could flip that triangle any way you want it depending on the opponent. Up front, it allows Rolfe to play from off the wing and run wherever he wants, which is basically what he is as I’ve never seen him as an out and out striker. Nyarko or Oduro could claim the other spot flanking MacDonald. It seems a great solution.

    And don’t even mention Franco. He was shit when he was 28. Now he’s fossiled shit.

  5. Not sure I put Oduro 4th on the depth chart just yet, but 3rd/4th is kind of a crapshoot between Santos and Oduro until the season starts. If he stays with the club, I see him going to RW, although that’s not a position that suits him, or the club. And with Santos sure to be favored as the guy with something to lose, it certainly seems that Oduro’s time w/ the club is waning.

  6. Mike Sanders’s (aka Maicon Santos) 2012 guaranteed compensation: $114k (approx). So, this puts him right there with Oduro ($108k). And yes, it’s certainly fair at this point to say that Maicon and the Dommer will battle for the 3rd forward spot.

    As far as formations go, a 4-3-3 would indeed be interesting, and could perhaps breathe new life into Mr. Freaky Fast’s game. But alas, I don’t see Klopas going there either.

    El Guille? I’m afraid Fels is correct. Adios amigo. We hardly knew you…

    Now, all that said, I’d prefer the Fire deal Oduro.

  7. If Mr. Sander’s output pre-injury 2012 can be replicated, it’s no contest. Could even challenge Mackie if he starts missing sitters. Rolfe is a staple, I would think.

    But this also makes me wonder more about Maicon’s ability to play on the wing instead of a central/striker role. Not sure off the top of my head if those waters have ever been tread, but it’d be interesting to think about.

    The only thing I’m shocked about re: Franco is that they haven’t announced his departure yet.

  8. If Franco is leaving, then the Fire have to keep Dom. You can’t just have 3 strikers at any point in the season. Especially with Santos and Mac being the big, powerful forward type.

    And a draft pick should not be used for this spot. Almost the whole defense back and the wings need help. These are the positions the Fire need to draft for. These are also the positions the Fire should also trade players for. I’m looking at Paladini, Bone, or Videira. This frees up some space at CM and helps the Fire out in needed areas.

    Dom just needs to learn to be a backup at multiple positions. This gives him the best chance for playing time as well as keeping him in shape if he becomes a starter. If he plays well, he helps himself as well as giving the Fire a chance to trade him in the season if they want. Keep him at the beginning though, switch to a 4-4-2, and trade one of three players mentioned above.

  9. Rumor has it that Catania player, Keko, might be heading to the Fire. He’s 21 and a winger. Apparently, our head scout, Carmona, was a part of Atletico Madrid’s youth setup when Keko was there. Can “A Team for the World” help the Fire?

    Also, Robbie Rogers has been released. Just sayin

  10. There’s no link or article to substantiate that rumor yet, other than a tweet from MLS Transfers. Also, Keko has 0 goals in 50 professional appearances, so I’m not sure he’s the kind of striker that the Fire need. Hell, even Puppo had some goals to his name.

  11. Keko is right winger, not a striker. He’s not relied on to score goals. Though playing for Atletico and Catania, I’m positive he’ll be able to score at least 1 goal for the Fire.

    And a tweet from MLSTransfers is the same thing as writing a two sentence article about it because it’s a rumor. Just like every other bit of news that is happening right now up until that specific move becomes finalized.

  12. Sooo. Dom didn’t go on Superdraft day one, but rumors abound that the Fire tried to deal him to Columbus for Dilly Duka. Man, if the Dommer gets dealt to C-bus, I’ve got a gem of a tweet from him that will certainly entertain. Stay tuned…

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