On July 7th, the Houston Dynamo added to their stable of midfielders by announcing the signing of Nigerian midfielder Rasheed Olabiyi. "We're pleased to welcome Rasheed to the Houston Dynamo", said Dynamo GM Matt Jordan. "He's been training with us and has integrated well within our group. We look forward to seeing him continue to grow in our environment and contribute to the success of the team as we begin the second half of our season." Olabiyi joined the club immediately and made his Dynamo and MLS debut on July 10th, coming on as a late sub in the Dynamo’s 2-0 victory over San Jose.
Olabiyi, a 24 year old native of Nigeria, began plying his trade as a footballer at the Pepsi Football Academy in his home country. He and Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel were named MVPs of the Academy in the 2006 and 2007 seasons. As a youth, he also represented Nigeria at the U-17, U-20, and U-23 levels.
In 2007 Olabiyi began his senior career in the Nigerian Premier League with Emyiba International FC. For some perspective on how good the Nigerian Premier League is, it is ranked the 76th best national league in the world by the International Federation of Football History and Statistics (take that ranking with a grain of salt; MLS is ranked 55th in the world).
Olabiyi enjoyed a great deal of success with Emyiba FC; the club won 3 FA Cups, 2 Nigerian Super Cups, the Nigerian Premier League, and reached the CAF Champions League Semifinals between 2007 and 2015. He ended his Nigerian Premier League career with a loan out to Shooting Stars SC earlier this year, before joining the Dynamo.
Unfortunately, the Nigerian youth programs and the NPL are not very good at keeping stats on players, so the only stats on Olabiyi are the he made 5 starts in the CAF Champion’s League with no goals. However, Rasheed’s time in the NPL did not go without personal accolade; just last year, in a 3-3 draw with Abia Warriors, he drove home a screamer from outside the box that earned him the NPL Wonder Goal of the year award. Check it out below: