Jayden Nelson - Canada - close shot
Reuters/Action Images

Ayo Akinola misses Toronto FC's Round of 16 match as 17-year-old Jayden Nelson starts

Ayo Akinola has taken the MLS is Back Tournament by storm, but he did not feature for Toronto FC on Sunday night against New York City FC.

The 20-year-old striker missed the match due to a hamstring injury, originally reported by TSN's Kristian Jack.

Akinola is currently tied atop the Golden Boot presented by Audi rankings with LAFC's Diego Rossi, with both sitting on five goals. Akinola took advantage of the opportunity to start with Jozy Altidore still returning to fitness.

With Alejandro Pozuelo starting as a false No. 9, 17-year-old Jayden Nelson took his place on the wing. Nelson left the match in the 57th minute with TFC down 2-0.

To learn more about the teenager, you can read below from this scouting report provided by MLSsoccer.com's James Grossi back in January.

Player type: Versatile attacker, tricky dribbler.

Vanney’s words: “Game-changing potential, he’s a special athlete, has a change of pace that is unique, is light on his feet, can shift in different directions, can beat people on the dribble. He’s got an edge to him that is interesting; he works hard.”

“He’s one of our kids who is [at the BMO Training Ground] the second he has a chance and will be here for as much of the day as he can. He just loves to play the game and he absorbs information. Next for him is to make the right decisions in the moment. He’s been able to make the difference as a younger player, [but] he won't be able to do that immediately as a professional. So, it’s [finding] his connection to teammates and [looking] for moments to make a difference. He’s got a unique upside.”

Background: Another Bramptonian, Nelson was a semi-regular for TFC II last season. At the 2019 Concacaf U-17 Championship with Canada, he scored five goals. Nelson earned a spot with the full national team this month, making his debut against Barbados and scoring days later in a second encounter with the island nation. He was also recently named the 2019 Canadian Youth International Player of the Year.

Expected impact: Set to battle with Toronto’s growing stockpile of wide attackers for minutes in Vanney’s 4-3-3 formation, though more likely off the bench – at least at first.

Series: 

MLS Unites to VOTE

Join Major League Soccer, Black Players for Change, and the MLS Players Association in participating in the November 3 general election. In-person early voting has started in over 40 states. Make a plan to vote.