ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Montreal Impact forward Dominic Oduro’s hair is in pre-season mode — a simple au-naturel mohawk, so to speak — but his trash-talking is in fine form when it comes to Toronto FC.
Oduro, who counts Toronto as one of six past MLS homes, offers up some veteran wisdom before taking a jab at the club that traded him away in January 2015.
"Listen, I always say you never have to be hostile to your other teams," he said. "You never know what will happen. MLS is all about business sometimes.
"But it would be nice to play against them, just for the rivalry of it. And also for the fact that, regardless of the fact that they won the Eastern Conference, I think we are still the better team."
Oduro had two goals and an assist in a wild 7-5 aggregate loss to Toronto in the conference final, a roller-coaster ride that saw the Impact blow a 3-0 lead at home in the first leg.
The 31-year-old Ghanaian played 24 games for Toronto in 2014 before being offloaded to Montreal for allocation money, creating some much needed salary cap space for TFC.
"No condition is permanent as they say. Thanks TFC for ur support. Had a blast. On to the next one. Hope I make it home IMFC," he tweeted at the time.
Montreal has been just that. Oduro, who made US$235,000 last year according to the MLS Players Union, signed a new two-year deal in December.
Playing on the right, Oduro is part of a three-pronged Impact attack with classy Argentine Ignacio Piatti and Italian Matteo Mancosu. Oduro’s speed — his Twitter handle is (at)Freakyfast8 — has combined with Piatti’s vision and ability to beat defenders and Mancosu’s running off the ball to create a potent counter-attack.
"The three of us — Piatti, Mancosu and I — we have a system of play and we’ve had that click," Oduro said. "It started in the latter part of the (2016) season … we know each other’s mechanics and how we move. And with the way the coaches want us to press, I think it’s perfect for us.
"I’m not saying it’s going to work every game but I’m saying we have to make sure we make it feel right when we’re on the field."
Oduro is an MLS survivor. He has played 324 regular-season and playoff games over 11 seasons for FC Dallas, New York Red Bulls, Houston Dynamo, Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew, Toronto and Montreal. He has 64 career goals and 35 assists.
A colourful character with his ever-changing hair, infectious laugh and unabashed love for pizza, he has no shortage of fans. Robb Heineman, CEO of Sporting Kansas City, took to Twitter to show how he felt about an out-of-contract Oduro. "I think â†•Freakyfast8 should play for â†•SportingKC," he wrote.
But Oduro, who had six goals and six assists in 31 regular-season games last season, elected to stay put.
With the regular season set to kick off March 4, Oduro has big plans. He is close to getting a new pizza sponsorship. And he and his barber have been putting their heads together.
"There’s always something planned," he said mysteriously of his hair. "I just can’t tell."
Oduro could even be joined by his namesake in the league this season. Seattle took fullback/midfielder Dominic Oduro in the second round (44th overall) of the January draft. The new Oduro is a five-foot-five Ghanaian who spent time at the Manchester City academy as well as teams in Belgium, Denmark and Sweden.
The reigning Oduro is not worried about sharing the limelight.
"There’s only one Dominic Oduro. Period," he said with a smile.