Bismark Adjei-Boateng

Bismark Adjei-Boateng is not the first Ghanaian to sign for the Rapids, nor is he the first to have found his way to Major League Soccer via an academy in the West African country which gives hope to hopefuls.

Adjei-Boateng began his soccer journey at the Right to Dream Academy in North Tongu, which is in the Volta Region of Ghana, about 40 miles north-east of the capital, Accra. The academy was set up in 1999 by Tom Vernon, a former scout with Manchester United and - since last January - chairman of Danish club FC Nordsjælland. Nordsjælland’s stadium is now known as Right to Dream Park.

The Right to Dream Academy offers opportunity to underprivileged boys and girls, to blend soccer with academia. Many have been able to channel one or the other into re-setting their life’s path, either at a professional club, or private schools and universities in the USA. Of those to choose the former, three now play in MLS - Emmanuel Boateng of LA Galaxy, David Accam at Chicago Fire, and Josh Yaro with Philadelphia Union.

The 22-year-old Adjei-Boateng is only the second Ghanaian to head to Colorado, following Junior Agogo. Agogo made 32 appearances for the Rapids, between 2000 and 2001, netting 11 goals.

Adjei-Boateng made 101 appearances in all competitions for his Norwegian club, Strømsgodset IF, scoring 18 goals, having been signed by then Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini in 2012. Though he never featured for City, he has enjoyed considerable time on loan at Strømsgodset, making his debut toward the end of the 2012 season, before helping them to the league title in 2013 - their first in 43 years. He was also a part of the side which finished runners-up to Rosenborg in 2015.

The Rapids’ new signing has UEFA Europa League experience under his belt, while he was an unused substitute for both legs of Strømsgodset’s second qualifying round loss to Steaua Bucharest in the 2014-15 UEFA Champions League.

A fast, ball-winning midfielder, Adjei-Boateng has modeled his game on that of former Manchester City teammate Yaya Toure, who hails from neighboring Ivory Coast.

Like Ivory Coast, Ghana - whose national team is known as the Black Stars - is among the leading producers of soccer talent from the continent of Africa, turning out the likes of Abedi Pele (the father of Jordan and Andre Ayew), Samuel Kuffour, Stephen Appiah, Tony Yeboah, Kwadwo Asamoah, Michael Essien, Asamoah Gyan, and Sulley Muntari.

The Rapids will hope Bismark Adjei-Boateng becomes another notable name, to add to an already glittering array of gems unearthed along the Gold Coast.