Toronto FC forward Ayo Akinola's stock is on the rise, and with five goals and a hat trick already to his name in the MLS is Back Tournament, the topic of what country he'll choose to represent at the international level is already a hot one.
That's because the 20-year-old could theoretically choose one of three options, with status as a young and emerging No. 9 ensuring all three will likely be making a play. Here are the choices that lay in front of the TFC Homegrown product.
Any US men's national team fans watching Akinola's early exploits for TFC probably can't stop themselves from dreaming that he could be the elusive carry-the-load No. 9 the program has been pining for. Who knows if that's what he'll become, but there's at least some reason to believe he'll choose to represent the US. Akinola has already featured for the US at the U-15, U-17 and U-20 levels. He's been productive, too, racking up 34 goals in 42 matches in those appearances.
Speaking on SiriusXM FC on Friday, Akinola was asked specifically about his hopes of representing the US at senior level.
"I think for me, I’d love to get called to the national team but at the same time I can only control what I can control," he said. "At the end of the day, it’s the coach’s decision. For me, if I do my own part and I do it right I’m hopeful a call will come. But if not then I’ll continue to do my thing at the club level."
However, the player's agent told MLSsoccer.com's Tom Bogert that Akinola was still to make a decision about where his international future lies.
Ayo Akinola is undecided about his international future, his agent Nick Huoseh tells me. Has represented US at youth levels, eligble for Canada + Nigera.— Tom Bogert (@tombogert) July 17, 2020
“When the time comes and he gets a call, he’ll think about it. Right now he’s focused on Toronto FC.” #TFCLive #USMNT #CANmnt
Born in Detroit, Akinola and his parents moved to Canada when he was one, first living in Toronto before settling in Brampton, Ontario. He has Canadian citizenship and his younger brother Tom, part of the Toronto FC academy, attended a Canadian youth identification camp in 2015. The Canadian Soccer Association has reportedly been in touch to discuss where they think he could play in the short and long term.
Akinola's parents are from Lagos State in Nigeria, which makes him eligible to compete for the Super Eagles. The Nigeria Football Federation contacted his mom during the U-17 World Cup in India in 2017.
“They saw me play against Ghana,” Akinola told MLSsoccer.com last year. "For now though, “I don't want to focus too much on that, I'm representing the US.”