When FC Dallas selected a kid out of the Colorado School of Mines (a Division II program) as the sixth overall pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, some people were surprised.
Tesho Akindele was impressive in his four years in college and at the combine, but he wasn’t projected to be one of the top picks in the draft. Dallas took a big risk and it has paid off this season. The Calgary, AB, native has been one of his best rookies this season.
“He’s not playing like a rookie right now,” defender Matt Hedges said, via MLSSoccer.com. “He gives us another option that we haven’t had before. He’s a very athletic player, but also confident with the ball.”
He’s inserted himself into the first team and he looks comfortable in Oscar Pareja’s innovative system. Colorado School of Mines’ all-time leading scorer, 76 goals, has formed a dynamic offensive trio with Blas Perez and Fabian Castillo. He’s scored three times in nine starts this year.
Akindele has surely left an impression on MLS fans, but will that be enough for a Canadian national team call-up?
At the moment, Canada’s head coach, Benito Floro, doesn’t have a plethora of top quality forwards at his disposal. The former Real Madrid manager is currently trying to rebuild his team in order to make a push for the 2018 World Cup and with the nation’s all-time leading scorer, Dwayne de Rosario, at the twilight of his career; a new lethal weapon would be highly appreciated.
Even though Akindele isn’t one of the most pernicious forwards in MLS, he has proven that he has all the qualities of a compelling front man.
The first attribute that sets him apart from other rookies is his ability to adapt and grow in a new environment.
“He keeps growing,” Pareja said. “Its great news for us, to have someone, despite his youth, is coming and playing a big role in the team right now. Against Aston Villa, everybody kept seeing a player who keeps adding good things to his game.”
Even though he only played 15 minutes in the first 10 games of the season, Akindele didn’t give up. Instead of waving the white flag, he fought for a place in the first team. He got his opportunity against San Jose Earthquakes and put in a good 89 minutes shift, and two weeks later, he scored his first goal against LA Galaxy.
The confident and competitive forward is also blessed with an incredible physique. His intimidating 6-foot-1 frame and broad shoulders automatically makes him a natural candidate for the No.9 position.
To make matters worse for defenders, Akindele possesses lightning quick feet and a unique finesse with the ball at his feet.
His pace has added a new dimension to FC Dallas’ offense. Pareja’s side is tenacious on fast breaks and midfielders are able to lift the ball over the defense knowing that someone will be on the end of the pass.
“It helps our team because we can counter quickly and we can get up the field and support him, and he can hold up the ball as well,” Hedges said. “We’ve been playing more and more in behind other teams because of his pace. It’s something teams haven’t seen from us in a while and it’s something that catches them off guard.”
Since Floro called up Cyle Larin, a 19-year-old that currently plays at the collegiate level, there is no reason why the Spaniard shouldn’t give a player that’s succeeding in a professional league a chance to shine in his country’s colors.
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