Two-way game: Dominic Oduro is pouncing on errors, scoring goals
The NHL annually awards the Frank J. Selke Trophy to the forward who best demonstrates a defensive component to his game.
If there were a comparable award in MLS, the Columbus Crew's speedy Dominic Oduro might run away with the honor because of his continued thievery.
Saturday at Sporting Kansas City marked the third straight match that Oduro created a turnover in the attacking end that resulted in a Crew goal. Twice he completed breakaways for goals himself while in the early stages against Chicago on June 22 he drew a penalty that Federico Higuaín converted.
"As a forward you always try to pick your chances," he told MLSsoccer.com by phone following the Sporting match, a 3-2 defeat for Columbus despite Oduro tying the match 2-2 in the 54th minute.
He got his eighth goal, tied for fifth in MLS, by intercepting a lazy back pass by SKC defender Seth Sinovic before it reached goalkeeper Jimmy Nielsen.
"I met [Sinovic] going forward and he put the ball between him and the goalie," Oduro said. "The goalie was late and I was able to kick the ball away from him."
While Sporting coach Peter Vermes saw it as a "horrendous" blunder by his player, Columbus goalkeeper Andy Gruenebaum said Oduro should be given some credit for applying pressure.
"People look at that as a mistake but Dom forced the mistake," he said.
It was reminiscent of the game vs. Montreal on June 15, when he stripped the ball from midfielder Collen Warner and went 35 yards for the solo goal.
"That was the game plan for me to sit behind Higuain and try to get the ball and attack and that's what happened," Oduro said. "It was designed in such a way to disrupt the play as much as possible. Once I get the ball and have space, I'm taking it."
He also had a takeaway a week later against Chicago defender Austin Berry on the left flank and wasn't stopped until goalkeeper Sean Johnson tripped him in the penalty area.
Oduro, in his first season with Columbus (5-7-5) following a trade with Chicago, leads the team in goals and his four shy of equaling his personal best of 12 set in 33 games two seasons ago.
He's on pace at the halfway point for 16 goals. That would be the most for a Crew player since Jeff Cunningham's 16 in 27 matches in 2002. Jairo Arrieta and Eddie Gaven tied for the team high last season with nine apiece.