Mamadou Diouf, a dynamic forward from Senegal by way of the University of Connecticut, has joined the Charleston Battery on loan from Vancouver Whitecaps.
Diouf arrived in time to attend Saturday’s final night of the Carolina Challenge Cup, but spent the evening in the West Stands pending proper clearances. More than one Battery fan noticed him there, and club President Andrew Bell confirmed Monday afternoon that Diouf has joined the team.
“Yes, he was here and joins Jackson Farmer and Marlon Ramirez,” Bell wrote. “We have to complete paperwork before we can announce the loans. We have several more players coming from VW.”
At 6-1, 170, Diouf (watch the video above to get the pronounciation) put up 36 goals and 10 assists in 74 matches over four years with UConn. He entered his senior year as the Preseason Big East Offensive Player of the Year, but suffered an early injury that limited him to 16 appearances, and didn’t get his first goal until the NCAA playoffs. The knock most likely pushed him out of the first round of the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.
Here’s a highlight video…
From a pre-draft profile…
Is there a player in the pro ranks here or abroad that you look up to or try and emulate?
“I have two players that I always look up to since I was young. One was my favorite player, and I used him in my email name, Raul, who used to play for Real Madrid. When I was young I liked watching him, he was a lefty and he was not really strong but he was a really smart player. My friends used to call me [Raul] because I was always around the box, so they give me that name.
“The player I think I’m most similar to is Drogba. I use my head a lot, and I’m a little bit physical. I watch his tape every night, watch his highlights. I started to follow him when he was in the second division of France. It wasn’t even yet at Marseille or Chelsea – I thought ‘I want to be like this guy.’ And I didn’t even know if he would be a big time player. I like his style, the way he plays, I’m kind of similar to him. Before my games, I watch him. Look to see how he moves, runs off the ball, what he does with the ball.”
After a very strong 2012 season, you had a down year. What was the reason for that?
“The first three games, I wasn’t the leading scorer, but I was leading the whole country in shots. After that, we played Syracuse and I got injured, a fracture on the side of my knee and I had to sit out for six weeks. So when I came back, the regular season was almost over, it was like one game left. I needed to get fit again, because for six weeks you do not run, you do not do anything, it’s hard for a player, no matter who you are in that situation.
“So I came back from injury and it took me four more weeks to feel that I was myself again, with the fitness level, and at that time it was the NCAA tournament…during the big tournament I was getting fit, started to feel like myself and that’s what helped me. I think I didn’t have the season people expected me in the whole country, but in the NCAA tournament I did what I had to do to help my team.”
Here’s a quote from a Colorado Rapids blogger who liked Diouf so much he wanted his club to draft him… at No. 11.
Diouf is the type of forward that the Rapids need. That is, a great finisher. He can score with both his feet and his head and looked very comfortable in front of goal during his two great seasons. Even this year, when his production dipped, he still made All-Conference Second Team.
And if the Rapids don’t bite on him at No. 11, he might well fall to them in the second round if teams actually were scared off by his senior year production.
Diouf was probably the most obvious candidate for a Vancouver loan in the weeks following the formal affiliation between the two teams. He plays a position of need here, but was stuck behind the Whitecaps rotation of veteran Scottish forward Kenny Miller and top-level young prospects Darren Mattocks (2012 SuperDraft No. 2), Kekuta Manneh (2013 SuperDraft No. 4) and Omar Salgado (2011 SuperDraft No. 1).
That said, Diouf also felt like something of a test case. He’s considered a draft-day steal, with a good chance of building a career in MLS. By one line of thinking (mine), that makes him a perfect loan candidate. But some Vancouver observers thought his quality made him too valuable to send on loan to Charleston.
His arrival is well-timed. Charleston’s only proven forward — 2013 leading scorer Dane Kelly — limped off the field Saturday with what Battery Head Athletic Trainer Bobby Weisenberger is now calling a hamstring strain. No time has been set for his return. “We have a little time now to play it safe and not rush him back to training,” Weisenberger said.
Kelly’s injury left the Battery with only second-year-men Heviel Cordoves and Austin Savage at forward, with Whitecap loaner Ramirez announced at the position when he entered the Houston match in the second half.
TOP IMAGE: Andrew Farrell of Louisville, the No. 1 pick in the 2013 MLS SuperDraft, defends UConn’s Mamadou Diouf during an NCAA tournament match. Photo via Soccer By Ives.