Ousmane Dabo is a 34-year-old French defensive midfielder. He came up through the youth ranks at Stade Rennais in 1995 and impressed enough to earn a move to Inter in 1998. Inter loaned him midseason to Vicenza, and then spent the next 3 seasons in Parma, AS Monaco and back in Vicenza on loan again. He finally settled for two seasons in Atalanta, making 52 league appearances with 4 goals.
He moved on to Lazio in 2003 and spent 3 seasons there before earning a move to Manchester City. His tenure there was known less for his play than for a training ground fight with teammate Joey Barton, which resulted in Dabo pressing charges against his fellow midfielder. Dabo moved back to Lazio for another two seasons, but has spent most of this season on the bench or not dressing for matches. Dabo is also a former French international, earning 3 caps in 2003. He's the type of midfielder to stay deep and break up opponents attacks. He then uses his superior class and skill to distribute well and hold possession.
What will be the biggest adjustment Dabo will have to make?
Dabo has spent most of his career in Italy in Serie A, where matches are built around intricate tactics and there is a heavy emphasis on defense. In MLS, the emphasis is more on speed and athleticism, and the pace of the game is much faster. Also, he will need to adjust quickly to the physicality of the American game - many foul calls he would see in Italy will be no-calls in MLS.
What kind of impact can Dabo have on his team?
Ousmane Dabo will provide the Revs with a quality partner in midfield for Shalrie Joseph. Last season it was painfully obvious that the Grenadian had precious few teammates he could trust to maintain possession and take care of the ball, and Dabo should give him the outlet he needs. The Revs' defense should tighten up nicely and hopefully the midfield will be better at stringing together passes an building attacks.
What's a reasonable expectation in terms of production and playing time?
When healthy, Dabo should start every match in midfield. His age is a factor, though, so in situations where the Revs are playing two or three games in a short period he may be rested occasionally.
What's the ceiling on Dabo?
If he can play at his peak, Dabo can provide a presence in midfield similar to what Rafa Marquez meant to the Red Bulls last season. He and Shalrie Joseph could represent one of the best engine rooms in MLS, with Dabo sitting just in front of the back four spraying passes forward to Joseph and the wings. He may not have quite the legs he once did, but class is permanent. If healthy, Dabo should rank as one of, if not the best holding midfielder in the league.
- Report by Steve Stoehr of The Bent Musket