Tuesday, May 13, 2014

"Q" has the "A" for the MLS' Chicago Fire

Quincy Amarikwa of the Chicago Fire (Photo Courest USA Today Sports Images
Former Aggie All-American Quincy Amarikwa is among Major League Soccer's top goal scorers thus far in 2014. (Photo Courtesy USA Today Sports Images)
In your best Alex Trebek voice, ask yourself the following, "This former UC Davis standout has been on 'Fire' for his MLS squad, ranking among the league's top goal-scorers in 2014."

If you said, "Who is Quincy Amarikwa?" Collect your "Daily Double" winnings and select your next category.

While his name may not be associated with the long-running television game show (yet), the Bakersfield native and Aggie All-American has been the answer offensively for the Chicago Fire of Major League Soccer (MLS) thus far this season, experiencing a scoring renaissance of sorts to the tune of a career-high five goals in eight matches for a side that has been fit to be tied in 2014 (1-2-6 as of May 13) -- including an MLS-record six consecutive draws -- but is coming off its first win of the year, 5-4, over the New York Red Bulls on May 10, with the tying goal scored by Amarikwa off a header in the 49th minute (watch highlights)

Amarikwa, in the midst of his sixth MLS season and his second with the Fire, leads the team in scoring and is one of six players tied for fifth in the league in goals scored, while also standing second among his Chicago teammates with 18 shots on the year (as of May 13). He has scored a goal in each of Chicago's last three matches -- tied for the second-longest active streak in the league entering the week -- and has a point in his last five straight contests, trailing only Brad Davis (six matches) of Houston among active streaks.

The 2008 Big West Conference Offensive
Player of the Year and an NSCAA All-American,
Amarikwa finished his career third on the all-time
UC Davis goals list and fifth in points.
(Photo by Wayne Tilcock/Davis Enterprise)
Selected by the San Jose Earthquakes in the third round (32nd overall) of the 2009 MLS SuperDraft -- the first-ever Aggie to be taken in the SuperDraft and only the second UC Davis player to be drafted into the MLS ("Who is Ryan Shaw?") since 2004 -- the now 26-year-old Amarikwa made his league debut later that season against New England, eventually scoring his first career point with an assist against Columbus on May 27 and finding the back of the net for the first time against FC Dallas on Oct. 7.

Following stops with Colorado (which claimed the 2010 MLS Cup) and Toronto FC from 2010 to 2012, scoring three goals in 31 matches during that span, Amarikwa signed with Chicago prior to the 2013 season and immediately paid dividends as a spark ("fire" reference) off the bench, scoring three times in just 299 minutes of action -- all coming in the final 10 minutes of regulation or stoppage time -- including one strike that was up for the league's Goal of the Year (watch the final goal in Group P).

This season, Amarikwa has also scored highlight-worthy goals against Chivas USA on March 9, D.C. United on March 29, Montreal on April 12, and New England on April 19 -- the latter his first goal scored in front of the hometown crowd at Toyota Park.

His career at UC Davis was also nothing short of highlight-worthy, finishing off his four years as a collegian ranked third in school history in goals scored (31) and fifth in points (69), while his 15 goals as a senior in 2008 led the Big West and ranks tied for third on the school's single-season list.

He was named the Big West Conference Offensive Player of the Year and earned all-conference first-team laurels that season, as well as earning All-Far West Region First Team and All-America Second Team honors from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.

Amarikwa, who lettered at UC Davis from 2005-08, twice led the Aggies into the NCAA Tournament, including a second-round appearance in 2008.

Whether he can help the Fire accomplish the same is yet to be seen, but the former Aggie is well on his way.

- Jason Spencer, assistant athletics communications director, has never been a game show host, but once used a cassette recorder (kids, ask your parents) to tape the audio off an episode of "Press Your Luck" to practice with when he was younger.

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