After life-altering winter, Tesho Akindele producing for Orlando City SC

Tesho Akindele celebrates - Orlando City SC

It was a life-altering offseason for Tesho Akindele. His December 2018 trade from FC Dallas to Orlando City SC wasn't nearly his most important event, either. 

When the only MLS club he'd ever represented -- spanning 133 appearances and a Supporters' Shield, US Open Cup and Rookie of the Year award -- traded the Canadian away, Akindele and his pregnant wife swapped Dallas for Orlando.

They needed to find a new house, figure out her employment situation and, most importantly, bring their first child into the world.

“It was very difficult, she was eight-and-a-half months pregnant," Akindele told "Literally one week after we got here [in Orlando], she had the baby. People go to their same doctor then have a baby. But we saw our doctor over here one time before having the baby." 

On February 10, just shy of three weeks before Tesho's Orlando City debut, Hayes was born. 

"That’s the thing that people don’t consider when players are getting moved, how much is going on in their personal life that can affect what happens on the field," Akindele said. 

Akindele is off to a strong start to the 2019 season, starting eight matches, adding four goals and an assist. He's on pace to surpass his career high in goals (7) which came in his Rookie of the Year season in 2014. 

The 27-year-old points to his colleagues at the club as the reason he hasn't skipped a beat since joining the Lions. 

“I’m proud of myself," Akindele said. "A lot of it has to do with my surroundings. The coaching staff have made me feel very comfortable and given me a lot of confidence. That’s huge for a player. My teammates have given me confidence, like, ‘you are the guy who will go out there and score goals, we believe in you.’... It’s been a really good transition at a volatile time of my life.”

After life-altering winter, Tesho Akindele producing for Orlando City SC -

Akindele helps form a deep and talented Orlando City attack, featuring the likes of Nani, Dom Dwyer, Sacha Kljestan, Chris Mueller and others. Getting on the field is no small task. 

“Competition is high in training," Akindele said. "One thing that people always talk about when having depth, which obviously is good, is that there is competition. You have to balance minutes, that’s something our coaching staff has done well because we have a lot of players deserving of minutes.

“Coach has done a really good job," Akindele continued. "He gives us the confidence to go out there and do our thing, he kind of gives us freedom offensively. Swap positions, create the attack the way we want. It gives you the opportunity to take more chances. You need to take chances, but if you’re concerned if you’ll get pulled off when you make a mistake, you might not take the chance.”

After life-altering winter, Tesho Akindele producing for Orlando City SC -

Another place where Akindele has to fight for minutes is with the Canadian national team (photo above), where he has 14 caps. He was included on the nation's preliminary 40-man Gold Cup roster.

He has a warning for the other 15 countries who qualified for the tournament: Don't sleep on Canada. 

“Whether or not I’m there, Canada is easily one of the best teams in the tournament and probably going to surprise people from what they thought of Canada in the past," Akindele said.