Player Report: Kingsford Adjei

*Featured photo credit to University of Dayton*

Nationality: Ghanian

Age: 23

Birthday: 1/21/1999

Height: 5’5″

Weight: 160 lbs

Current Club: South Georgia Tormenta FC

Position: Attacking Midfielder

Alternate Position(s): Forward

Preferred Foot: Right

Bringing players to your club is a complicated process. There are so many moving parts that have to come together in order for the paths of player and club to cross, especially at the League One level. Because of this, it is vitally important to make sure the people you bring to your club are the kind of people you want representing your community and club. This is something that is important at all levels of football/soccer, but I believe it can be especially important at the League One level. Players respresent the diverse and tight knit communities in which they find themselves pursuing their dreams. While some of these players may never become household names, they will be remembered by the people they represented.

Enter a club that constantly seeks to embody the values of its fans and is the epitome of professional community club: South Georgia Tormenta FC. While they haven’t been known as the best on the field team in League One, they’ve certainly accomplished a lot. You’d be hard pressed to find a club in the League that continuously represents their community in a positive way as well as Tormenta. This isn’t to take anything away from the great work clubs across the league are doing, but rather to highlight the way in which this club presents itself to its community and the world – and the thing about it is they don’t look for recognition either. For the longest time, I had no idea. I first encountered this at the end of last year when Marco Micaletto came on the walkin 90 podcast and told his story of how the ownership group took care of him in a moment of crisis before he ever signed for the club. If you take a closer look, you start to see just how thoughtfully this club is run and managed. Even small things, such as celebrating holidays that are important to the Head Coach Ian Cameron seem to be commonplace — this isn’t even considering how they handle youth development, how they use their digital voice for good, and how they make their city better.

When you consider these things, it’s important that you continue to bring in players that will continue to embody the ethos of the club as well. Kingsford Adjei, recently named the No. 1 prospect to come out of USL League Two, seems to be a perfect match for a club bent on being a force for good with big ambitions on the field as well. Adjei is a graduate of the prestigious “Right To Dream” academy in Accra, Ghana (was named student of the year once). While it’s mission statement revolves around how much they focus on building well rounded individuals, they have come to be known for producing some incredible footballing talents — one of them being Kingsford himself. In 2020, he sat down with the Dayton University media team about his journey and if you have an extra few minutes, it’s definitely worth reading. Just from the article, you can tell Adjei is a guy with HUGE ambition, but it doesn’t keep him from impacting others positively. The now Tormenta attacker was named to the A10 conference 1st team of the year all three years he was there, named midfielder of the year twice, leading his team to an A10 League title, and a plethora of other awards that would take far too long to list. Drafted by NYCFC this year, things didn’t quite work out to start, but from what I can tell Adjei has a pretty big future ahead of him and his time at Tormenta will be just the beginning. What does he bring to the team? Well, let’s take a look (quick note: at both the NCAA and USL L2 levels, it is next to impossible to find publicly available data worth using outside of goals and assists. It’s also impressivey hard to find game film outside of highlights for the NCAA. Keep that in mind if this article seems a little shorter):

Kingsford, able to play centrally or out wide in attacking areas, was and is incredibly productive in front of goal. While he’s definitely somewhat of a playmaker, he’s definitely more of a finisher — looking to finish off attacking moves with a shot on the goal. Across 54 appearances at the collegiate level he scored 30 goals and provided 14 assists, and scoring 5 (0 assists) across 6 appearances with the Des Moines Menace. You take one look at the tape and you start to see why: Adjei is incredible at finding open space or making space for himself if there isn’t any. Adjei’s ability to attack open space is highlighted below. Out wide, he was an absolute menace when it came to attacking open space. Not only that, but as one of the top shooters in the A10 league and in the top 50 for shots per game NATIONALLY, you could bet that Kingsford would be popping off some shots at your goal. He’s confident, dangerous, and clinical.

Dayton Flyers Youtube

Here you can see how Adjei slips through the seam unknown to the defenders and finds himself with acres of space before firing a right footed shot home. His off the ball intelligence is fantastic, constantly making smart runs that cause trouble for opponents. You can see how confident he is, not hesitating in making the run or taking the shot, rendering the goalkeeper useless in this moment. In transition, I found it interesting how he always seemed to be open despite the fact that he was clearly a huge threat. He was like a ghost, drifting — unbeknownst to the surrounding defenders– into open space before attacking it and creating chances.

Kingsford Adjei Highlight Reel Junior Season on Youtube

His ability to attack open space was matched by his ability to create space for himself on the ball. He’s not a pushover by any means and while the ball sometimes looks like it’s glued to his feet, he has the strength to match up with just about anyone. He can match up with bigger defenders when the ball is on the ground as well as wriggling through tight spaces to create space for his teammates. He’s so good at dribbling out of danger to open space for teammates and give teammates more time to make dangerous forward runs. I love both videos below which highlight both his strength/on ball skills and his creativity. The line breaking pass was a thing of beauty. Something of note: Despite his incredible ability on the ball, he’s very reliant on his right foot. In the film I was able to find, it was very rare to see him use his left foot at all. He definitely improved in this area over the past two years (the clip below is one of 3 or 4 instances I can remember that he did something other than dribble with his left foot) and i’m not sure it hampers his game TOO much (especially after watching him keep hold of the ball below), but it’s definitely something to note.

Credit: Kingsford Adjei Hightlight Reel Junior Season Youtube
Credit: Kingsford Adjei Hightlight Reel Junior Season Youtube

Now there are plenty of highlights that show how tricky he can be on the ball, but one thing I love is that he doesn’t always try to play out of danger or over-dribble. Sometimes, he just applies the basics well and finds it to be enough. Here, he does a good job of recognizing the lack of space behind him and passes back before winning the foul moments later, earning his team a corner in a pretty dangerous position that ends up being a shot on goal. Ian Cameron mentioned this in the Tormenta press release, but this clip highlights the strength he possesses to hold off the defender while keeping hold of the ball. One of Adjei’s strengths is his toughness/strength that is uncharacteristic of a tricky attacking midfielder like himself.

Des Moines Menace vs. Green Bay Voyageurs Game

Out of possession, Adjei was a hard runner and made life difficult for opposition players on the ball. Either screening passing lanes or in the video below you see how his pressing forced a bad pass that creates a chance for Des Moines. He’s a smart player that is able to execute tactical instructions well and it seems like smart pressing is a strength he possesses. As another point of weakness, he does have a tendency to stick a leg out quite far in vain attempts to win a ball from time to time if he’s not squarely in position to intercept, halting momentum and leaving him in the lurch. That being said, he’s generally good at screening passing lanes, so this doesn’t happen that often. When it did happen, it was merely a matter of getting back into position to keep shape. Luckily, this was rarely punished

All of these things boil down to the mental attributes that he possesses in abundance: intelligence, confidence, awareness, and reaction times. I think his mental attributes are what set him apart as an incredible player that will have a huge impact at Tormenta under Ian Cameron. A man undeterred by anything thrown his way, Kingsford is sure to make waves in the league and sit squarely in the nightmares of most USL League One defenders. He’s sure of himself in the best possible way and will surely be a contagious force in the locker room that brings the quality of play up and lifts the game of those around him. This man will create absolute chaos in League One on and off the ball and he’s definitely one to watch coming into the 2022 season.

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