Kwame Watson-Siriboe. I doubt any Real Salt Lake fan had even heard the unusual name before the Salt Lake club signed him thanks to assistant coach C.J. Brown's special relationship with the young player. He was drafted by the Chicago Fire several years ago. Kwame hardly got any minutes of playing time in his first three seasons in MLS. It was a rough start in professional soccer for Watson-Siriboe. Luckily for RSL, C.J. Brown, a former Chicago man himself, took particular interest in the new player from the University of Connecticut.
The young defender grew up in Chino Hills, California. While playing college soccer for UConn his senior year Kwame earned First Team All-Big East honors. What went on at Chicago is somewhat of a mystery. In the Fire's coaching staff's eyes, he must have been a player just waiting to make a breakthrough. He was always good enough to stay on the roster, but never quite ready to really make the jump to the first team. Either Chicago's coaching staff was flat-out wrong, or being brought to Real Salt Lake was what it took for Kwame Watson-Siriboe to make the breakthrough that he's waited for his whole career.
The ex-Chicago player chose to take on the number three on the back of his claret and cobalt jersey. Whether he knew it or not, that number formerly belonged to Real defender Robbie Russel, who played a major part in the club's history. His conversion of his penalty kick in the 2009 MLS Cup gave Real Salt Lake the star above their crest. The legacy could continue as Kwame finds his way deeper into the roots of the club's system. It's really quite amazing the way he has been able to meld with the squad so quickly. The RSL Way seems almost second nature to Watson-Siriboe. He understands the role of a centerback clad in the Claret and Cobalt of Real Salt Lake. He has a strong presence. He's solid, doesn't let anything slip. If the ball gets past him, the player doesn't. If the player gets past him, the ball doesn't.
This role is especially crucial to fill for the club when looking into the future. Our two regular centerbacks, Jamison Olave and Nat Borchers (dubbed "Borlave" by Matthew Montgomery) are aging. As they age they grow more injury-prone and cost more to keep at the club. In other words, it is very improbable for both to stay at the club for many more seasons. Kwame Watson-Siriboe playing in his current form is exactly what RSL is in need of. A very athletic and capable central defender that understands his role and is able to play it extremely well.
Kwame really showed better than anyone else on the pitch, from both sides, today as Real Salt Lake took on the Vancouver Whitecaps. Despite how agitated I was as a supporter seeing my team unable to create goals and play beautiful soccer, I couldn't help but smile upon the spectacular composure and dedication of the new defender.
Real Salt Lake should be proud of their acquisition of the former Chicago defender. He has the potential to be one of the RSL greats. I have faith in him and can only hope for the best and wait.
UPWARD AND ONWARD