What do Louisville, Kentucky and Storrs, Connecticut have in common? Not much, except maybe showing up in old Big East footage. But both may soon share a fond appreciation for former UConn men’s soccer program talisman Abdou Mbacke Thiam, who was signed by Louisville City FC out of the United Soccer League Championship last week.
It’s not the MLS, but this is a big time move for the former Husky star. Yes, his name wasn’t called during the MLS SuperDraft like fellow alum Jacob Hauser-Ramsey, but Mbacke Thiam is landing in quite the ideal spot. Louisville City is widely regarded as the class of the USL, having taken home the last two championships — the only club to do so.
“It’s one of the best moments in my life because this team is one of the best teams in the USL and now they’re getting one of the best players in college soccer. I’m so excited to have this wonderful opportunity after a great career at UConn,” Mbacke Thiam said in the release.
Mbacke Thiam steps in to a well-run organization from the top-down. The team has a rabid following in professional soccer-starved Kentucky, not unlike UConn’s Goal Patrol, and boasts a respectable average attendance of 7,888. During its last two championship seasons, the expansion club has sent four players on to the MLS. The club also recently broke ground on a shiny new stadium, projected to open in March 2020.
Mbacke Thiam has a shot to step in immediately. He’ll be tasked with replacing Cameron Lancaster, who departs the team after setting a USL single-season goal record.
So, Lou City fans reading a UConn blog, what are you getting from Mbacke Thiam? He’s an excellent target man, comfortable playing with his back to the goal. Dangerous in both the air and in link-up play, he uses his size well and has a potent scoring touch.
In short, Lou City is getting stats, and lots of them. An All-AAC First Team selection, Mbacke Thiam notched 15 goals in his senior season, leading UConn to the second round of the NCAA tournament. He left Storrs fourth all-time with goals (46) and sixth all-time in points (110) in program history. Here are some of his gems:
Louisville City’s head coach John Hackworth gushed about his new signee.
“Abdou had an outstanding career at UConn under coach Ray Reid. He is a proven goalscorer and is versatile enough to play any of our attacking positions,” he said. “[Assistant] Danny [Cruz] and I liked what we saw when evaluating him on video and our opinions were reinforced by his performance at the MLS Combine. More importantly, when we met with Abdou in Orlando, it was clear that his personality and character would fit our locker room culture.”
For those in Connecticut, you’ll even get a chance to see Mbacke Thiam in your backyard once more. The expansion club Hartford Athletic, kicking off its inaugural season in the USL Championship, will host Lou City on Sept. 14 at Dillon Stadium.