Colter's big day only scratches the surface of his potential

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Colter's big day only scratches the surface of his potential

If Northwestern truly has only begun to showcase what they plan to do with Kain Colter, Big Ten opponents could be in for a long season.

Following Colters career day in a 44-29 win over Indiana the junior rushed for 161 yards and four touchdowns and caught nine passes for 131 yards Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald said the Wildcats have much more in store for how they plan to use their ultra-talented offensive weapon.

Im very proud of the way hes playing, but none of us are surprised, Fitzergald saisd. We knew that in high school, and it shows obviously the way that he can pick up our system. And were just getting started, Ill put it to you that way, with the things were gonna do there.

Even if Saturday was just the beginning, it wasnt a bad way to start. The Wildcats compiled a program-record 704 yards of offense in the win, helped out by Colters 292 out of the backfield as a runner and in the slot as a receiver.

I thought we had a good plan, Fitzgerald said. And Kains Kain. Hes unbelievable. Hes as dynamic of a young man, maybe, I think, in this conference, with the versatility and the things that he can do.

His nine catches were the first nine of his season after four weeks behind center, rushing and passing. Part of Fitzgeralds decision to have Colter leave the helm and move into the slot is the progression of redshirt sophomore Trevor Siemian, who passed for 308 yards in the win over the Hoosiers.

Six of Colters nine receptions came on third down, and all six were converted.

Kain did a good job of shaking loose and beating his guy, Siemian said. I dont think they had an answer for Kain all day; at receiver, at quarterback, wherever it was. If hes getting loose, Im going to get him the ball.

With Colters versatility to play anywhere on the field, Siemians decision-making, and not to mention running back Venric Mark (29 rushes, 139 yards, 1 TD), the Wildcats offense could start featuring two quarterbacks more often than not.

Were trying to find a way to get our best 11 on the field, Fitzgerald said. I think we came out of the first four games and said, every time we took Kain off the field, we looked at ourselves collectively as a coaching staff and said, What are we doing here?

The same, Fitzgerald added, could be said for Siemian.

Those two guys are in our best 11, some way, shape or form in what we believe in philosophically and offensively and as a program, he said. And how can we exploit the talents that our young men have to our advantage, I think this was kind of the first chapter of what we plan to do.

As he usually does, Colter could only deflect the praise for his career day elsewhere, but theres no denying the Northwestern offense is running as smooth as ever at the perfect time.

The offensive line, Trevor Siemian and the receivers really did a good job today, Colter said. We just went out there and executed the game plan. The coaches provided us with a great game plan.

We went out there, executed and made a lot of plays, he added.

And if this is just the beginning, as Fitzgerald claims, thats a phrase Colter should get used to saying this season.

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

As questions about his future remain, David Accam is in his best run with the Fire

For the past two seasons, David Accam was a bright spot on bad Chicago Fire teams.

This season, with more talent on the roster, Accam has blossomed into one of the most dangerous players in the league.

He had a hat trick and an assist in Saturday’s 4-0 win against Orlando. That gives him 10 goals and six assists on the season. Only two other players in Major League Soccer have 16 combined goals and assists, New York City FC's David Villa and teammate Nemanja Nikolic (the leading goal-scorer in the league).

“I thought I could do anything on the pitch today,” Accam said. “I just wanted to enjoy myself and entertain the fans and also help the team win. That’s what we did today, especially after my first goal. I just thought I could get more goals and also help the team win.”

Accam’s big game comes after he sat out the previous two games, which were both played on turf. He wasn’t listed on the injury report, but coach Veljko Paunovic said, “he didn’t recover from the physical issues that he had in the previous game.”

The rest seemed to do Accam some good, but his success in the game (as well as his recent run of eight goals and four assists in his last eight matches) coincides with questions about his future. He was recently rumored to be the target of a Turkish club.

In the past, Accam has spoken about his ambition to play at the highest levels. Typically, that means Europe. General manager Nelson Rodriguez said last month that he expects offers to come in for the 26-year-old because he is a good player in his prime ages.

So is Accam playing like someone trying to earn a new contract? That could be either impressing potential suitors in Europe or boosting his negotiation position with the Fire. Rodriguez has talked about contract negotiations with Accam before, and said those will not resume again until after the season.

“I wanted to be in a team where I would develop as a person and also win trophies, whether here or somewhere (else) I don’t know,” Accam said. “For me, I’m doing really well here and every year if I keep playing well there will be always interest. I know there is a lot of interest because I’m doing well. For me it’s always extra motivation to keep doing well. You don’t know where I will end up, whether here or somewhere else. I’ll just keep playing.”

Accam’s play earned him another call-up to the Ghanaian national team. He will join the team on Sunday for a pair of friendlies in the U.S. The Black Stars will take on Mexico in Houston on June 28 and the U.S. in East Hartford, Conn., on July 1 as the two North American countries prepare for the Gold Cup.

“That’s where I want to be,” Accam said. “I want to be playing for the national team so it’s extra motivation for me to perform well and also to go to the national team.”

Accam has been one of the most productive players in MLS this year, based on goals and assists, and is young enough to draw the attention of plenty of teams. For now, the Fire have him as a key part of the best season the club has had in years.

“I think that he understands very well how to play with the team that we have now and with the teammates that he is surrounded with,” coach Veljko Paunovic said. “We just have to work to give David opportunities… Then we expect that performances like that will come even more.”

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