The year started so very well for the Rapids offense, as they scored a whopping eight goals in three games even without their top two strikers on the field for two of those games. Part of the reason for optimism was the much maligned Quincy Amarikwa looking like far more of a pro than he ever had in his appearances for the San Jose Earthquakes and Colorado Rapids. His goal against Chivas USA was a thing of beauty, with Amarikwa breaking free of everyone else on the pitch, snapping the ball over Zach Thornton and finishing with no problems with a snap-shot from right in front of the net. At the time, it was a brilliant sign that Quincy was finally graduating from his old-self, a self that we had often maligned before.
Unfortunately, it looks like it was just lightning caught in a bottle for a single moment, the perfect conditions meeting. Quincy has not changed and the Rapids are feeling the pain of it on the offense.
Quincy has what I like to call a 'hero complex'. The man wants to score pretty goals. Now, if you're Lionel Messi or Carlos Tevez, pretty goals just kind of come to you. There's just a type of player that can make magic happen when a football gets near them. Unfortunately, Quincy Amarikwa thinks he has the mind of a Messi caught in the body of... well, the body of Quincy Amarikwa. A moderately skilled striker, Quincy has mediocre ball skills, mediocre accuracy, a pretty high leap and seemingly no football sense to go along with those. A man with his skills has the potential to score 8 or so goals in a league like MLS every year, but as Quincy proves, football is a good percent mental.
Quincy's hero complex combined with his less than stellar accuracy means two things for his game - he likes his goals to come from close range and he likes his goals to be of the spectacular sort. When I spoke of his goal against Chivas being lightning in a bottle, it's because he had the perfect opportunity to do just that; he stuck it in from right next to goal and was able to make a pretty little chip on the way there with no defenders in his way. Since then, the problem of Quincy's hero complex has only managed to get worse. He's tasted the forbidden fruit of good looking goals and now he wants more.
In the last couple of games that Quincy has appeared, he has played more like the MVP for the opposing team than a guy who started the season as the third out of six on a fairly deep gang of strikers. His play has been plentiful, and the goals have not. Quincy has started four games this season and appeared in a whopping nine games, with 12 shots toward goal. Only a miserable three of those shots managed to find the goal and only one found the back of the net. Playing as the high forward in most of his appearances, these numbers are completely unacceptable, and anyone who watched his latest debacle against Toronto can testify that his lack of shots are not from lack of chances. Numerous times, Quincy got the ball with only one or two defenders to beat and did one of the following two things:
Option A: Try and streak into the box by himself past the defenders, losing the ball at some point in the process.
Option B: Go all the way out to the wing, looking for a long cross into the area.
As such, those opportunities rarely if ever turn into shots simply because he seems to be scared to death to shoot the ball from outside the 18 yard box, possibly because he knows that accuracy is not his best asset. His ball skills aren't all that good either so he can never seem to get into the box, settle the ball and get a clean shot off toward goal. How desperate is he to be the last man back? Well, he unsurprisingly leads the team in offside calls against with five.
So where are his shots coming from? Mostly from headers and his old standard - the bicycle kick - when he's already inside the box receiving the ball via service from Kosuke Kimura, Anthony Wallace, Marvell Wynne or Jamie Smith mostly. His best asset as said before is his height on jumps, so as said before he's got some chance to be a decent guy in the box and score some goals from there... except he doesn't like going for the simple flick on header. He prefers to try a diving header or perhaps his favorite bicycle kick move, which rarely if ever works. In fact, interestingly the only time I think it's worked in Quincy's short career here was when his bicycle kick misfired, giving Wells Thompson of all people the ball in open space leading to a goal against the New England Revolution last season.
And then we come to possibly the most head-shaking aspect of Amarikwa's recent play; he seems to have gotten a taste for diving. Quincy seemed to spend more time on the ground than on his feet against Toronto. Whether it was from slide tackling just a bit too much or falling down before he could get a shot off on the slightest touch, Quincy's oft-diving ways may have actually cost Colorado the game. Right before half-time Quincy was brought down very hard at the very edge of the area, probably the best chance Colorado has had all season at getting a penalty called for them. (They are one of the few teams not to have had a chance at a PK this season.) Unfortunately, the surprisingly non-obtrusive ref on the day probably saw Quincy going down again, assumed it was business as usual, and let the game continue on its merry way.
The honeymoon is over and I think after only three goals in 45 MLS appearances and a non-stop mentality of not bettering himself, Quincy Amarikwa should no longer be starting on an MLS squad. With the rise of Andre Akpan, the eventual return of Mac Kandji and the still-dominant duo of Conor Casey and Omar Cummings taking on the league after the Gold Cup, there should be no room for Amarikwa left on a championship squad, even in a league like MLS.