PHILADELPHIA - Heading into the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, the feeling around everyone in Philadelphia was that this may be the most unpredictable draft in years. That certainly held true and FC Dallas was right in the middle of the action trading down, then up in a whirlwind ten-minute span. In the end, technical director Fernando Clavijo got his man, forward Tesho Akindele from Colorado School of Mines.
“We’re excited because coming into the draft we were looking to add some offensive power,” said Clavijo. “Oscar has done a good job the last couple years getting to know the kid and how he’s done before. He came to the Combine as one of those kids that every day got better and better.”
WATCH: Akindele Combine Highlights
Not only did FCD select their target all along, but they ended up with a valuable extra international slot, traded from Montreal to Dallas in the first trade that saw FCD move from the #5 to #10 pick.
“It was kind of tricky, because emotions were very high. We were trying to figure out with the pick we had can we get that player,” said Clavijo. “Some other teams approached us with options and we got some allocation money and an international slot for the trade. We were able to use that [allocation money] to trade up again and come out with the player we were looking at from the beginning. Plus we get an international slot for free so all the [things] we did worked out very well for us.”
Perhaps the man most surprised by the moves today was Akindele himself. Despite scoring an incredible 76 goals in four seasons at CSoM, the Canadian-born forward was not projected to go this high in the draft. However, after a strong combine and impressive meeting with the FCD technical staff, Dallas was impressed enough with the 6-1 striker to select him sixth overall.
“It’s all surreal. Right before the Combine nobody was talking about me getting picked, definitely not in the first round and possibly not even until the fourth round,” said Akindele. “Nobody was talking about me. It just shows you how important every game is. I just had a couple good games. We played three games and I played well and my stock just rose. It rose a lot because of those games. It’s just a surreal feeling to have moved up so much. I’m so excited for this opportunity.”
“I had an interview with Dallas and they made it seem like they liked me, but I had no idea I would get picked this early. I was definitely thinking somebody would pick me up in the second round or maybe at the end of the first round… They kind of told me they tried to keep it a little bit secret that they might try to get me early, but I’m glad they did that and I’m just happy now.”
Clavijo has spoken in the offseason about the type of player he wants to bring in to FC Dallas, and Akindele, known for his hard work both on and off the ball at forward, looks to fit perfectly in Frisco.
“I’m going to work hard. I know the level is different,” said Akindele. “I’m going to have to get used to the speed of play and the smarts of the players, but overall I think I will be able to come in and contribute right away.”