The OneSoccer crew was joined on Friday by Orlando City and Canadian national team forward Tesho Akindele on their latest episode of Player and Pundit Hangouts.
Akindele, who scored 10 goals in his first MLS season with Orlando last year, spoke with OneSoccer’s Oliver Platt, Adam Jenkins, and Kurt Larson about his career trajectory as well as his role with the national team setup.
With regard to his 2014 MLS Rookie of the Year honour, the former FC Dallas forward quipped that he was glad he’d got in before fellow Canadian international Cyle Larin (who won the award the year after).
After giving his thoughts on the rumours about the potential return to play for MLS this summer, as well as what it’s like to be a professional athlete with a newborn baby, Akindele reminisced on his decision-making process to play for Canada rather than the United States in 2014 and 2015.
“It was just a whirlwind of a year,” he said. “I went from a relative nobody playing in division 2 soccer in Colorado, to the (MLS) rookie of the year. I became a U.S. citizen that year too, and I’m getting calls from Canada and the U.S.; there’s just a lot going on.”
He added: “I’m really glad that I decided to play for Canada, I think it’s worked out great for me. Like I said, I became a U.S. citizen in 2014 and up until that point I was Canadian, always. All I ever thought about my entire life, when i thought about national team soccer, I was just Canadian.”
Akindele played under three different Canada coaches, in Benito Floro, Octavio Zambrano, and now John Herdman. As a result, he’s seen plenty of change — but the biggest change, in his mind, has been the depth of the player pool
“When I first came in five or six years ago, we had a good team, but there wasn’t too much depth, too much competition for spots,” he said. “People could get into camp even if they weren’t performing their best, just off of legacy.”
To watch Friday’s OneSoccer Player & Pundit Hangout with Tesho Akindele in full, click here.