David Accam has been most known for his speed since joining the Chicago Fire before the 2015 season.
The 26-year-old is one of the fastest players in Major League Soccer and has made some impressive highlights with that speed.
However, his game has come under fire for being somewhat one-dimensional. While the Ghanaian can still dribble by players, his touch hasn’t been as crisp this season and he has had trouble staying healthy since joining the Fire. In each of his first two seasons he missed 10 regular season games. A hip injury that Accam said is the same one he had last season has forced him to come off the bench twice in eight games in 2017.
Entering this season there was a question of how Accam would perform when the Fire’s attack wasn’t going to revolve around him. The addition of Nemanja Nikolic at forward, and a revamped midfield, meant the Fire would likely rely less on hitting long balls for Accam to use his speed to chase after.
Accam scored a goal in the season opener at Columbus that was a vintage Accam goal, using his quickness to create a chance. Since then he hasn’t been as dangerous in front of goal, both due to missed opportunities on his part and Nikolic (who has five goals) becoming the focal point in the penalty box.
“I think we have Niko and Michael de Leeuw who are really good finishers,” Accam said. “For me, at the moment it is good for me to just take it easy and try and create more chances for them.
“I want to score more goals, but I think I’m doing really well at trying to create more chances for them.”
Accam has a pair of assists this season and both have come from quality passes. He set up Bastian Schweinsteiger’s debut goal with a well-hit cross following a short corner and hit a perfectly weighted centering pass to Nikolic two weeks later.
Last Saturday at the New York Red Bulls, Accam was credited with five key passes, a statistic for passes that set up a scoring opportunity. That was more than any other player on the field and one fewer than the Red Bulls had as a team. On another day with better finishing, Accam could have had another assist or two.
After having two assists all season in 2015 and five last year, it appears Accam’s value as a creator has improved this year. Is this something he has put more emphasis on this season?
“I’m a forward player. I want to score goals, but I think at the moment the best thing is for me to just be more of a creative player and let the two players lead and just be behind them,” Accam said.
Accam said this isn’t a directive from the coaching staff.
“I think for me as a professional I know what is good for the team,” he said. “I’m trying to play more for the team so I just decided myself to do that more often.”
Coach Veljko Paunovic said this is nothing new from Accam’s game, but did say he has improved his work rate defensively, something that has been another knock on Accam's game in the past.
“He’s just alternating the roles that he can in a game,” Paunovic said. “Sometimes it’s assisting, sometimes it is him resolving the situation and scoring goals. He has that, he can do that. It’s helpful also for the team and the effort that he is doing because I think this year he is more engaged in a team’s efforts and organization defensively.”