Misc Soccer News

“Chico” and Khano Smith – Reunited in the Ocean State

Rhode Island FC Signee Drafted in First Round of MLS SuperDraft

March 28, 2024 – United Soccer League Championship (USL)
Rhode Island FC News Release

In 2023, Rhode Island FC striker Albert Dikwa “Chico” had a career-best year in his fourth season with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. With 20 goals in 28 matches, Chico became the 13th player in USL Championship history to record 20 goals in a single-season. Chico topped off his breakout campaign with Golden Boot and Player of the Year honors.

Six years earlier, the Cameroonian first came stateside to play for Orlando City B (then of the USL Championship) in his first season as a professional. It was in Orlando where Chico first met Khano Smith, who worked in the same building as an assistant coach with Orlando Pride of the National Women’s Soccer League. The long-standing relationship eventually inspired a new challenge for the veteran striker in 2024.

“We shared the same meal room, same locker room,” said Rhode Island FC Head Coach and General Manager Khano Smith. “The coaches shared the same office side of the building, so there was quite a bit of interaction. Chico was always a pleasant, respectful kid and he’s still that person today. He’s very humble, friendly and warm. So, I think those interactions sometimes go a long way with people.”

After plenty of offseason video calls and discussions, Chico chose to sign with Rhode Island FC amidst a number of other offers. Inspired by Smith’s visions for the club, his desired style of play and the trust the two shared, Chico had no doubt he would easily adjust to life in the Ocean State.

“Looking back on my first season in Orlando, coach Khano was always kind to me,” said Chico. “He always checked in on me and wanted to make sure that I was happy. I was a kid coming from Africa, adjusting to a new place. To feel that love, and I never told him that, but it’s something that meant a lot to me. And after he joined Rhode Island FC and we started talking in the offseason, he was telling me, ‘Chico, you’ve got to come to Rhode Island. We’re building something special here.'”

Chico’s four seasons in Pittsburgh defined the best stretch of his career. He scored 31 goals in his final two years with the Riverhounds and helped the club earn its first piece of silverware in history with the 2023 Players’ Shield, given to the club with the best overall record at the end of the season. Chico averaged a goal every 114.7 minutes for the Riverhounds last season, and accounted for 40 percent of the clubs’ total scoring output. His decorated season…

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