The Flushing phenom was by far the best soccer player in Queens this year and could quite possibly be the best player in the city.
A naturally gifted, strong and dynamic player, Mashriqi played up front for the Red Devils, but has excelled at almost any position on the field, with the exception of goal.
While others spent the summer working part-time jobs, Mashriqi was in Paris training with the Under-17 team of Paris Saint-Germain, one of the top clubs in France. He returned and quickly established himself as one of the most lethal strikers in the city.
Known as Mo to his teammates, Mashriqi finished tied for first in the PSAL with 25 goals despite nearly always drawing a double-team and was fourth in total points with 57.
Although clearly more gifted than most of the field, Mashriqi wasnt a ball hog. And never was that more evident than in the PSAL semifinals.
Despite being closely marked by MLKs Frank Nkolo, Mashriqi made the most of a rare touch and flicked the ball to teammate Juan Peralta, who scored on a low shot to tie the game for Flushing.
One of four Mashriqis in the starting lineup, Mohammed comes from a large extended family from Afghanistan who live within blocks of each other off Kissena Boulevard.
He is one of several Mashriqis to play for Flushing coach Terry McLaughlin in his 19 years at the school, but McLaughlin says, he is clearly the best.
Hes one-of-a-kind, a very solid all-around player, McLaughlin said of Mohammed, whom he first saw as a scrawny 7-year-old on the sideline watching older brother Sabir. He has size, speed and strength. He is definitely the best all-around player weve ever had here.
As for next year, in addition to being flooded by phone calls and letters from a slew of Division I schools, Mashriqi is hoping to lead the Red Devils to the PSAL title. According to at least one coach, that is a very real possibility.
I think (Flushing is) a year away from winning the city championship, said Martin Luther King coach Martin Jacobson.
©2004 Community News Group
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