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Nimo's long journey leads him to Utah

     Midfielder 's family escaped war-torn Liberia

MLSnet.com Staff

BALTIMORE -- Of all the players selected in the MLS SuperDraft on Friday, perhaps no one had a longer journey to Baltimore than Alex Nimo, Real Salt Lake's third pick of the draft.

He and his family led war-torn Liberia when he was a baby to live in a refugee camp in Ghana. It was there that he started to play soccer.

"That was like my life," said Nimo, a Generation adidas selection from the United States under-17 residency program. "I used to play with friends just to have fun as a kid. When I came here I met Clive Charles and he saw I had potential and saw that I could become a pro someday."

Nimo and his family were granted political asylum and moved to Portland, Ore., where he first met Charles, playing in the FC Portland youth program. Charles, the former Portland men and women's coach and U.S. under-23 national team coach, was a big reason why Nimo realized his dream.

And while Charles, who died of prostate cancer in 2003, wasn't there in person, Nimo said he was there in spirit.

"He's not ever going to leave my heart because he's the person who really pulled me up in the U.S.," Nimo said. "He was like a father, a brother, a counselor. I'm not going to forget him."

With a large family, Nimo said he wasn't sure who called him first after he was picked.

"I got my phone on vibrate and like every five minutes it vibrates and I'm not trying to answer it," he said. "I don't know yet, probably everybody and their father calls, leaving a message."

Alex Nimo
Position: M/F
Height: 5'5"
Weight: 142 lbs.
Date of Birth: March 21, 1990 (17)
Hometown: Portland, Ore.
Citizenship: USA
Last Club: U.S. Under-17 MNT/Residency Program
Acquired: Selected by Real Salt Lake in the second round (17th overall) of the 2008 MLS SuperDraft.

Despite being the second youngest player eligible in this year's draft, the 17-year-old Nimo brings international experience to RSL thanks to his time with the U.S. U-17 National Team. The Liberian-born Nimo played an integral part in helping the "Stars-and-Stripes" reach the 2007 FIFA U-17 World Cup, first scoring three goals and two assists in five CONCACAF region qualifying contests before notching two helpers as a starter in all four of the U.S.'s games at the tournament's finals in Korea. A member of the U.S. Soccer Residency Program in Bradenton, Fla. since last January, the young Nimo was initially discovered and developed by legendary coach Clive Charles after his family moved to Portland, Ore.