In the fall of 2005, UC Davis welcomed one of the best men’s soccer players to don an Aggie uniform.
Quincy Amarikwa, a speedy 5-foot-9 forward, entered UC Davis as the school was in the midst of its Division I transition.
Four years later, Amarikwa helped lead the Aggies to their first ever NCAA Tournament win, which was a goal of his when he began his UC Davis career.
“That was the one thing we really wanted to do,” Amarikwa said, “because to my knowledge, no team has done that straight from the transition from D-II to D-I. We wanted to make sure we were the first to do that and that people would remember who went to the playoff tournament first.”
Amarikwa also acknowledged the cast of outstanding players he played with, which included Sule Anibaba and Dylan Curtis.
“We had a really good recruiting class my year,” Amarikwa said. “We always joked around that we would make sure we left our mark at Davis. When we all got together that year, everything came together.”
Everything fell into place for the Aggies – as well as Amarikwa, who was drafted 32nd overall by the San Jose Earthquakes in the 2009 Major League Soccer SuperDraft two months after UC Davis’ historic victory.
After averaging about 25 minutes of play off the bench in his rookie season in San Jose, Amarikwa reflects on how different the college game is compared to the pros.
“It’s much different than my time at [UC] Davis,” Amarikwa said. “It’s hard coming right off the bench expected to make a big impact or difference in the game. It is much different than college but I come out and try my best.”
“I know I can be an asset to this team so I have to use my time now to prove my worth. Hopefully that will pay off and I will start getting some more time.”
Having gone from “the guy” as an Aggie to a role player in San Jose, Amarikwa does see his time in MLS as a chance to gain valuable playing experience.
“It has been a learning experience,” Amarikwa said. “I take it day by day and try my best to take criticism and mold myself to become the player that they see me having the potential to become.”
What else is different for Amarikwa is his relationship with his teammates, considering that soccer is now a profession.
“It is a little different,” Amarikwa said, “seeing as how some of the guys have families and this is their livelihood as opposed it being more of a school pride type of thing. Not to say that there is no pride for the organization here, but it’s a different kind of motivation to play.”
Still, after a full season in San Jose, Amarikwa doesn’t think the fact that he is playing professionally has really hit him yet.
“I don’t even know if it has actually hit me yet, because I’m still taking classes this fall here at Davis,” Amarikwa said. “So I guess I am not 100 percent out there on my own and this is my sole means of livelihood. I will always know that I still have my degree.”
While Amarikwa hasn’t fully established himself professionally just yet, he’s happy with the way things have worked out so far.
“I am extremely happy that it worked out because [the MLS] is so unknown,” Amarikwa said. “It is really cutthroat here and it is hard to get established in the league, but I am very happy that it worked out for me. I am thankful for where I am at.”
On Oct. 7, Amarikwa scored his first MLS goal in a match against FC Dallas as he beat Dario Sala, tying the game at 1-1. Amarikwa also has two assists on the season.
MAX ROSENBLUM had fun at the San Jose-Colorado match with his buddy Ben Taylor despite having to sit in the most sketchy media booth ever at Buck Shaw Stadium. Vent about media booths at email@example.com.