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I can’t remember my exact address of where I grew up in West Valley City, but I can picture it all in my head. It was where me and my brother would ride bikes. We’d do everything together. 

I remember when it snowed, we’d put on our big winter coats, play football, tackle each other until snow would get in my jacket and I’d want to go back inside. Inside the house, my dad cooked a lot of African food like Acheke and my mom would make the best chicken alfredo. 

My dad is originally from the Ivory Coast, and he was a soccer player too. He ended up getting injured when he was young while playing in France. Then when my dad first moved here from the Ivory Coast, he met my mom through mutual friends at a Utah Jazz game. I went to a lot of Jazz games growing up, and I also played for the Junior Jazz for like a year when I was younger. 

But despite that, it was always soccer only for me. My brother is older than me and when I’d watch him play, I knew that’s all I wanted to do. My dad was also a huge influence on me as well, he didn’t want to force me to play but always encouraged it.

I started playing when I was like three. As I got older, I always played up an age group. I feel like playing with my brother, as well as his friends and his team, just made me a better player, and helped me learn how to deal with people who were more physical than me. If I didn’t have him pushing me, I don’t think I’d have the same drive I have today. 

I think about the sacrifices my mom and dad would have to make for me during this time quite  a lot. Driving me an hour to and from practice, not knowing any of this now was even a possibility. Just knowing I loved the sport. I knew we didn’t have the funds to pay for me to play soccer for these clubs, but they always found a way to support me. I know they were sacrificing things that they wanted or needed. I’ll never forget that.  

We moved to Eagle Mountain after my brother joined the RSL Academy. Meanwhile my dad was coaching me at local clubs like Comba FC and Avalanche.

I feel like my dad is a great role model because he'll be hard on me, but he'll never let me be hard on myself.

He’s the reason I feel like I strive to be kind to everybody on the staff, and know everybody's name. My dad absolutely tries to know everybody's name and get to know them on a personal level. That's how my dad has influenced me as a person and as a player.

Then I joined the RSL discovery program when I was like 11. I was signed to the Academy when I was 14, just like my brother. It was kind of crazy being one of the only kids in the RSL Academy from Utah. I could go to practice and then be home in like 15 minutes. 

I think it's different for me because everybody in the Academy flies over here and then leaves every break to go home, but I’m able to come to practice and my family's already here. What’s cool is everyone here at RSL is like a family too, so it's like, I could stay in the dorms or I could stay at my house and it's basically the same thing. 

While I was with the U-15’s I was doing really well, but also I noticed some of my friends were getting called up to train with the Monarchs and I wasn't, which was upsetting to me. 

My coach knew I was upset about this, but he told me that he thought I should stay down, and that it was better for me. He told me not to compare myself to others, and just keep doing what I was doing. That’s something that I think has helped me so much in my career, just focusing on myself. 

I didn’t know it at the time, but coach was absolutely right. I stayed down, then we went to the GA Cup with the U-15’s and I won the Golden Boot. 

I think his coaching helped mold me into who I am today. From the beginning of the U-15 year to the end there was a crazy difference. At the beginning I didn’t have a good first touch, and struggled to control the ball. I would just run with the ball because I was fast, and I was tall, so I was just trying to use my physical abilities. The coaches really taught me the game. How to think, how to develop my touch, how to take people one on one, all the skills you need at the top levels. 

After that U-15 year, I think people started to notice me a bit more. While I was on summer vacation in Virginia, where my mom’s family is from, I got a phone call. RSL wanted to offer me a contract. 

I was shocked. The only thing on my mind was coming back next season in the Academy and doing it all again. My family was so excited for me, especially my brother. 

So I signed it, and before you know it I’m making my debut with the Monarchs. It all happened so fast. 

In my first professional game, I got a red card. The minute I made the tackle to get my second yellow, I knew I was gone. 

I got a yellow in the first half. At halftime, my coaches were telling me to be careful. Second half I lose the ball, I try to win it back, I slide, he pokes the ball out of the way, I get him, and I was like “oh, I’m gone.”

Coach took me aside after the game, and said this was a good lesson because at the professional level, you can’t just get a red card and have it be fine, it has a much bigger effect than if you’re in an Academy game. It was quite the “welcome to the pros” moment, and I think I learned a lot from it. Just to be more thoughtful and cautious with what I do on the field.

After that game, I went to the GA Cup with the Academy. All I was thinking about was, next game with the Monarchs, I’m gonna do good, no red card, and I’ll show them I can be a professional player. 

Second game of the GA Cup, I’m on a fast break and I land on my foot while my shoe is falling off. Snap my fibula. 

The doctors tell me I’m going to be out for 5-6 months. I’d never had a major injury before. It’s kind of like when you’re sick and it almost feels like it’s hard to remember what it was like to be healthy. I kept thinking, I’m never going to take being healthy for granted ever again. 

It was a really difficult time, but there were a couple things I leaned on. I’m a religious person so I think God has helped me a lot.

I know some people have stereotypes of the Latter-Day Saints but I feel like being LDS has helped me be a good person.  Learning and growing up in the church, and noticing people treating others how you’d like to be treated. 

When I read scriptures that say that God knows your plan and you don’t, that was my main motivation in coming back from the injury. So that if I don’t come back from it, good, that’s God’s plan and I trust Him, if I do, good, that’s His plan. It helps keep me grounded, He’s there to help me in my journey, through the good and bad. 

While I was out, I also created myself in FIFA 23 on PS5. You have to be 17 to appear in FIFA so I had to make myself and put myself on RSL. I think I scored like 30 goals for RSL while I played in my living room. It felt great just seeing myself in that jersey.

I feel like my injury helped me eat better and understand my body more. I remember before it I thought I could eat whatever I want and still play the same, but after the injury I learned how I needed to eat certain things to help my bones heal faster. 

That put me on a schedule, and I got into a groove. Even when I didn’t want to eat or do what the trainers told me, I’d do it because I wanted to get back. I want to have a long career. It’s tough because my friends will want to go out to Chick-fil-A (which I love) and it becomes this mental battle. At the end of the day, I view it as like this: how bad do I want this career for myself? 

I want it badly. 

I end up only being out for three months.  

When I was coming back to training, it still hurt when I ran and I was just thinking about how I was never going to feel normal again.

Coming back to the Monarchs I feel like I started off a little slow, but playing in real games helped me a lot. My leg started to feel better. I’m so appreciative of my coaches giving me a chance, even after my injury, and trying to re-incorporate me back into the team. 

Then getting called into first team training was crazy. Sometimes I would catch myself just watching guys like Damir Kreilach and Diego Luna. The level of speed from Academy to Monarchs to First Team is such a huge step.

Getting to travel with the first team was even more special. Just seeing my name on the jersey, I was always imagining what it would look like. Even though I didn’t play in Colorado, I still got to wear it. 

Then in LA against the Galaxy, they called to sub me in.

Before the game I was nervous, but everyone else was acting so normal. It made me feel like I was supposed to be there, this wasn’t anything crazy.

I put on my jersey, and was just looking at all the fans as I was getting tactical instructions. Everything went in slow motion. As I’m being told things, my mind is going crazy, I’m pretty sure I didn’t hear a thing that was said to me.

You can imagine something, and I had imagined my debut so many times, but experiencing it in real life was just so much better. 

In the locker room afterwards, Jasper helped me take it all in, telling me how big a moment this was, to keep my jersey and make sure everyone signs it, things I never would’ve thought of. That’s the stuff I’ll always remember. 

When I got on the bus to get back to the plane, I opened the Apple TV app and just watched it over and over. The whole day after I was like, no way that actually happened. 

I talked to my Academy coach afterwards, and he told me, when you play a couple more games, I’ll be asking for your jersey.

Always pushing me, wanting to wait until I really get into the first team to really congratulate me. 

I feel like my goal for next season is that wherever the club wants me to play, I’m going to focus on myself & perform the best I can. If I’m with the Monarchs next year, I want to start and score goals. If I'm staying with the first team, I’m going to try and earn a starting spot and score goals. It doesn’t matter what team I’m in, I just want to be the best player I can be. 

It’s crazy to think back to seven-year-old me, riding my bike around West Valley, to where I am now. I wasn’t thinking about being a professional soccer player at all, I just liked to play. 

If I could talk to that version of me, I would tell him everything’s going to be okay, just keep going & focus on yourself, because one day, it’ll pay off & things will be great.