Andre Akpan didn’t waste any time getting acclimated with his new home.
The Red Bulls’ newest addition took an overnight flight to the tri-state area, landing at 5 AM Friday morning and giving him just enough time to crash for a quick nap at the hotel. After just a few hours of rest, Akpan made his trek to Red Bull Arena for Friday’s training session, his first with the team. It was undoubtedly a busy transition, but an exciting one nonetheless.
“I wasn’t totally surprised,” Akpan said of his trade to New York. “I think I was in a situation where I needed to get out and find a fresh start, and I’m glad I was able to come out here and do that.”
Prior to the trade that delivered Akpan to New York, and sent the Red Bulls’ conditional 2015 MLS Draft pick to Colorado, the Texas native spent four years with the Western Conference side, starting as the club’s 22nd overall pick in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft.
He made his debut appearance and only one of 2010 during his rookie season when he subbed on for 13 minutes in a match against Chivas USA. Akpan upped the ante in 2011, starting in five, appearing in 12, and scoring his first MLS goal on Apr. 30 in a 1-1 tie against the Chicago Fire. Although active on the Rapids’ Reserve League squad, Akpan made 15 appearances in 2012, including four starts and three goals.
Oh, and there was of course that MLS Cup Championship win during his rookie season in 2010, a moment in Akpan’s career that is met with some mixed emotions.
“That Cup was a little bitter sweet,” Akpan said, while speaking with the media Friday afternoon. “It was obviously great to win in your rookie season, but it’s tough when you don’t really feel completely involved. I would love to bring a championship here.”
Given the interlaced nature of the soccer world, Akpan did see a few familiar faces in the locker room upon his arrival. Kosuke Kimura played with Akpan as a member of the MLS Cup-winning Rapids, while Dax McCarty is a former teammate of his from the U-20 U.S. Men’s National Team.
But New York is Akpan’s fresh start, one that has been met with open arms and an ear-to-ear smile. He’s more anxious than ever to contribute.
“Last year, especially toward the end of the year, I started to get some good minutes with the Rapids,” he said. “As long as I take advantage of my chances when I get on and keep it consistent, I think it’ll be great.”