Los Angeles, Ca. – With two new clubs in tow, Major League Soccer brought the SuperDraft west to Los Angeles and in this city that attracts dreamers intent on stardom from all corners of the globe, one of those new teams, Minnesota United FC, made a member of the literal Dream Academy the first pick in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft.
Abu Danladi left his home country of Ghana at the age of 16 for Santa Barbara, California after going through the Right to Dream program, a program started in 1999 to provide talented children from West Africa with the opportunity to fulfill their potential, through football, education, and character.
Today, shortly after having his name called by MLS Commissioner Don Garber and looking very much like a young man who has seen at least one of his dreams come true, Danladi met with the assembled soccer press.
“It was a big transition from Ghana,” the former UCLA forward began. “Everything is different culture wise from Ghana to the U.S.” Danladi explained, “but it was nice.” “I adjusted really quick to living in the Santa Barbara area, everybody was really nice, really helpful. They were willing to help me when I needed help and it was good.”
From the podium, Danladi had made sure to thank his host family, backstage he was asked to talk about his countrymen in California. “Yes, there’s a lot of Ghanaians who went through Santa Barbara, UCSB and the Right to Dream program and they have been big role models to me, they’ve been here before me. It was easier to adjust” Danladi noted, “because there was so many of them, many of the Right to Dream guys and they’ve been great, they’ve been successful.”
Danladi quickly found success of his own on the soccer fields of Santa Barbara where the recent arrival starred for the Santa Barbara Strikers, as well as at Dunn High School, where he was acknowledged as the 2013-14 Gatorade Boys Player of the Year.
Three years at UCLA followed and now this; the young man from Takoradi, Ghana, is the number one pick in the MLS SuperDraft. The Right to Dream? Indeed.