John Hackworth has seen many players score many goals, in many different games.
But for the Philadelphia Union assistant coach and former technical director of the U.S. Soccer Federation’s Bradenton Academy, certain ones stand out.
Just like the time Chris Agorsor scored four times for the Baltimore Bays in the Development Academy finals in 2008.
“And they weren’t just garbage goals,” Hackworth told MLSsoccer.com. “It was a high-level game and he was excellent.”
Since then, however, Agorsor’s soccer career has been both arduous and circuitous.
Considered by some to be the top recruit in the nation only three years ago, the Baltimore native signed on to play for Virginia in 2008. A serious knee injury and then a subsequent ankle sprain stalled his progress at UVA, where he stayed for just two seasons before trying to catch on in Europe.
But even as his training stints with Manchester United and CD Nacional in Portugal eventually fizzled, Hackworth kept an eye on the player that had impressed him so much only a few years before.
And fellow Union coach Rob Vartughian also knew Agorsor well, having recruited the Baltimore star back while coaching at the University of Maryland.
And it was the relationship that both coaches forged with Agorsor that makes the recent pickup a valuable and exciting one for the Union brass.
“He’s an explosive attacking player who is very dynamic and has a great combination of speed and agility,” Hackworth said. “He’s probably one of the most agile athletes I’ve ever seen on a soccer field.
“As a person off the field, I’ve gotten to know him a little more, and he’s a young man that really wants to become a pro,” Hackworth added. “He’s willing to learn and he fit rights into our culture. We’re very fortunate to get him.”
Because he was previously offered a Major League Soccer contract before going overseas, Agorsor had to go through the league’s weighted lottery system to return to MLS.
The Union were one of only three teams to put in for his rights, and held a 96.3 percent chance of winning over fellow suitors Portland and Vancouver.
“Those are good odds,” Hackworth quipped.
Hackworth believes other MLS clubs weren’t interested in Agorsor for two reasons: he is a relatively unknown commodity and fell off the radar after his injury in college, and teams had to prioritize which players they would make a play for. Agorsor joined Cody Arnoux and Korey Veeder in the lottery system in recent days (Arnoux was assigned to Real Salt Lake last week, while Veeder landed with the Columbus Crew on Tuesday).
“I don’t think a lot of clubs had knowledge of Chris Agorsor,” Hackworth said. “That’s one part. The other part is the lottery process is a tactical decision by a club. Once you enter a lottery and win a player, you drop down to the bottom of the lottery.”
His old injury could be another reason clubs were wary to jump into the Agorsor sweepstakes, but after closely evaluating him as he trained with the Union throughout the preseason, Hackworth does not have any concerns about Agorsor's knee.
The Union coach also believes Agorsor, a pure striker, could have signed a professional contract in Europe if he chose to go in that direction, and that he will be an impact player in MLS for years to come.
Said Hackworth, “We wouldn’t have gone through this process if we didn’t believe he had a legitimate chance to contribute to the first team right away.”
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