Two “kings” and long-time friends will square off on Saturday when Crew SC visits the Chicago Fire in week three of MLS action.
Crew SC defender Harrison Afful will go head-to-head with Fire forward David Accam in what will be the first matchup between the two since their academy days in Accra, Ghana.
Both Afful and Accam grew up near Ghana’s capital and played with and against each other at an early age. The two have been friends ever since and taken similar paths to becoming professionals, representing their country, and ultimately ending up in Major League Soccer.
“David is like a brother from another mother,” Afful says about Accam. “We started way back in Ghana. We played in one youth team before we departed to different academies.”
While Afful joined the West African Football Academy Sporting Club, an affiliate of the Dutch Feyenoord Academy, in 2005, Accam played for the Right to Dream Academy from 2004 to 2008.
Both players then made the move abroad to pursue their professional careers. Afful played six seasons for Esperance de Tunis in Tunisia before joining Crew SC last summer. Accam, meanwhile, spent five years in England and Sweden before signing with the Fire ahead of the 2015 campaign.
Afful says even during their childhood days it was evident that his friend had a promising career ahead of him. “I knew he was a good player,” Afful says. “He was a great talent, he had the potential. I’m not surprised where he’s now.”
Now, Accam is in his second season with the Chicago Fire, making a name for himself with his speed and knack for scoring. After tallying 10 goals in his first year in Chicago despite injuries, Accam already has two goals to his name after two matches in 2016.
“He did a great job last season and I’m praying for him to keep the performance this season,” Afful says.
Well, maybe with the exception of Saturday’s match, which will likely pit the two friends against each other should both of them start as expected. Afful knows that it will be difficult to defend Accam.
“His qualities are one-on-one. He’s fast, he’s very dangerous on the ball,” Afful says. “To defend someone like that, you have to be tied to him. You can’t wait for him to get the ball. You have to get close to him.”
“It’s a great challenge for me and I’m looking forward to it,” he adds. “I’m just going in and doing my best, making sure I defend very well and have my team also.”
Afful and Accam communicate regularly and have been exchanging messages ahead of Saturday’s match. While they are no betting people, the competitive juices are definitely flowing between the two friends who both go by the nickname “King” on Twitter.
“There’s always some friendly competition,” King Harrison says about his upcoming duel with King David. “Nobody wants to lose. Everybody hates losing. At the end of the day the best team wins, so let’s hope for the best for Crew SC.”
We’ll find out on Saturday which king will reign supreme. Kickoff at Toyota Park is set for 5 p.m. ET. Following the match, both Afful and Accam are off to their home country as they have been called up by Ghana’s national team for its Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Mozambique.
That’s when the two friends will be teammates once again, just like those early days in Accra before their roads split.
“That’s one of the most enjoyable things, playing against each other and then going back to the national team,” Afful says. “We all do our best, and when we get a chance with the call-up, we go in and make sure we deliver for the country.”