Former NYCFC Midfielder and MLS Top 24 UNDER 24, Kwadwo Poku Details Journey to UPSL

January 25th, 2023

Born in Kumasi, the second largest city in the soccer-loving nation of Ghana, Kwadwo Poku always had a close relationship with his country’s national team. He had spent his whole childhood following them closely and dreamt of one day playing with the pros. However, his journey through professional soccer initially started off with him focusing on his academics in his youth, not athletics. 

“I always wanted to play soccer even though my parents wanted me to focus on school. I’ve always been attracted to the sport, especially the environment surrounding the national team games. However, it wasn’t until middle school that I became very serious with soccer. By the time I got to high school is when professional clubs in Ghana noticed my talent and started reaching out looking to build their U20 teams.” 

Eventually, teams in the US began calling Poku and the opportunity to live in the United States was too big to turn down at the time. At 18 years old, he decided to move from Ghana to Atlanta, Georgia to chase his dream. 

After settling into his new home in the States, one of the first teams Poku signed for was Eric Wynalda’s Atlanta Silverbacks in NASL, the US’s second division at the time. It was here Poku established himself as one of the best players in the league at 20 years old, that season Atlanta Silverbacks head coach and US Soccer Hall of Famer, Eric Wynalda labelled him as a someone who was perhaps too good for the second division level, adding “…(he) might be too good for the MLS too”.   

Soon after his breakout NASL season, he received word that a new professional team by the name of NYCFC had received his MLS rights.  

“The hardest part was that last bit of finally breaking through to the professional level. At every single tryout or training session I had to prove I was better than the guys already on the team. No coach signs a backup player. You have to play better than the starters in order to play for a team. Don’t compare yourself to the players on the bench, compare yourself to the best players on the team” Poku explains. 

It was at NYCFC in the MLS, where Poku became a fan-favorite after a great debut season, and was listed as one of the league’s top players on their annual MLS 24 UNDER 24 list. “Being a professional is hard to get to, staying in the professional game once you make it is even harder” he explains. 

Now playing and coaching in the UPSL with Beaman United in the KY / TN Premier conference, Poku’s goals now include competing for a UPSL National Championship and helping nurture the next generation of young players. 

“Playing in Columbus at the last UPSL National Final was an incredible experience, all four teams that made the Finals were very good teams. We had one of the craziest games of the year against Queensboro FC II last year.” When asked if he saw any future pros competing at last year’s National Finals, Poku explains “of course!” 

“Anything is possible in soccer and you never know who is watching. The same way you get up and go to work and work hard to live, treat soccer the same way. Make it your job and your passion. Getting paid to do what you love is hard, you have to fight for it.” 

For Kwadwo Poku and Beaman United the focus remains as always on a UPSL National title chase and finishing top of the KY-TN conference, while developing the club’s reserve team and youth program. Having lost in this year’s National Playoffs in the Round of 16 to SCU Heat, Poku is excited to keep moving forward with Beaman. 

“Having come so far with Beaman last season and playing so well in the KY-TN conference, people know what to expect from Beaman United. When you make it to the National Finals you have a target on your back so to speak, and so the standard from then on out becomes making it back to the Finals every year.” 

The UPS National Finals will be held this year at Championship Soccer Stadium in Irvine, CA. The National Finals is set to feature two semi-final matches on Friday, February 3rd and the National Finals match on Sunday, February 5th. Matches will be broadcast live all weekend long on VYRE Network. You can find VYRE on Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire, Android, iPhone, or your Smart TV by downloading the VYRE Network app for free or on their website at www.vyre.tv.

About United Premier Soccer League  

The UPSL was formed in 2011 and occupies the unofficial fourth tier of US Soccer. Across its Premier, Division 1 and Womens leagues there are more than 400 teams competing nationwide. The UPSL is now the largest Pro Development League in North America and is a National Affiliate member of the U.S. Soccer Federation (USSF). Each UPSL team is individually owned and operated. UPSL teams are eligible to participate in the U.S. Open Cup Qualifying Rounds through the league’s affiliation with USSF. 

More information about UPSL can be found at www.upsl.com or by following the league on Facebook (facebook.com/upslsoccer), Instagram (@upslsoccer) and Twitter (@upslsoccer). 

Contact UPSL: [email protected] / Media: [email protected]