Kenyan defender features as title chasing Orlando City held by Charlotte in MLS clash

Orlando City

STARS ABROAD Kenyan defender features as title chasing Orlando City held by Charlotte in MLS clash

Mark Kinyanjui 19:33 - 31.08.2023

The Nairobi-born centre back was making his third MLS outing of the season.

Kenyan defender Abdi Salim came off the bench as Orlando City were held to a 1-1 draw by Charlotte FC in a Major Soccer League (MLS) match as the two Eastern Conference sides split the points at midweek.

Salim was making a very rare cameo, as it was his first MLS appearance since playing against DC United way back in March.

The 23-year-old defender played 12 minutes, winning all two of his aerial duels attempted. He made one tackle, and two clearances and passed the ball five successful times in six attempts.

Goalkeeper Pedro Gallese kept the hosts off the board in the first half, making a crucial save in the 37th minute, pushing the shot aside at point-blank range. 

Both sides stayed level until late into the second half when Charlotte FC was awarded a penalty kick in the 81st minute that Enzo Copetti would convert for the opener.  

Orlando City midfielder Martín Ojeda needed just seven minutes to equalise, earning a free kick in the 88th minute. Ojeda stepped up for the set piece, delivering a cross towards Charlotte’s back post. Ojeda’s cross found its way through the Charlotte defense, sneaking just inside the post to level things up at 1-1.  

The Lions continue their road trip this weekend at FC Cincinnati this Saturday, September 2 at TQL Stadium.

Born in Nairobi, Salim grew up in the Dagahaley refugee camp in Dadaab. Having applied for asylum in the United States before Salim was born, his parents were granted a visa in 2003 and thus relocated to the USA.

In 2019, Salim began playing college soccer for the Buffalo State Bengals, a Division III State University of New York Athletic Conference (SUNYAC) program at Buffalo State University. He then played for the Syracuse Orange, before departing to join USL League Two side Ocean City Nor'easters in May 2022.

Six months later, Salim was selected in the first round (17th overall) of the 2023 MLS SuperDraft by Orlando City. After training with the club in preseason, he was signed to a one-year contract with three additional club option years on 14 February 2023.