FRISCO, Texas – First-round draft picks tend to be players that make their MLS teams, but some were a little surprised when FC Dallas used their sixth overall pick to take Tesho Akindele from the Colorado School of Mines in the 2014 SuperDraft.
Based on his recent play, the forward is meeting expectations for a Top 10 pick and arguably surpassing them.
“He’s not playing like a rookie right now,” said defensive leader Matt Hedges. “He gives us another option that we haven’t had before. He’s a very athletic player, but also confident with the ball.”
Before being drafted by FC Dallas, Akindele finished his college career as the all-time leading goal scorer for the Colorado School of Mines, a Division II program. That is the highest a D-II player has ever been drafted.
The attacker has scored three goals and registered an assist in nine starts and three other appearances for FC Dallas in MLS play. And in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, he has played a major role in crucial victories, with a vital match winner against in-state rivals, the Houston Dynamo, and setting up Blas Perez for the team’s first goal against the Carolina RailHawks.
“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."
Hedges pointed to Akindele’s last goal, a 90th-minute finish to seal FC Dallas’ victory over the New England Revolution, as a sign of the forward’s maturity. And FCD manager Oscar Pareja also focused on the maturity and professionalism of Akindele's showing in Wednesday's friendly against Premier League side Aston Villa.
“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.”
Born in Calgary, the rookie hopes his recent play could be strong enough to put him back on the radar screen for the Canadian national team.
“I think at the beginning of the season they might have talked to some of the guys in the front office, but it isn’t something I’ve heard anything about lately,” Akindele said. “When I was 17, I played a couple of games but that was it, so there has been a big gap since then.
“I feel like any time you have a chance to play international soccer you have to jump at that.”
Kevin Lindstrom covers FC Dallas for MLSsoccer.com.