Tesho Akindele had a decision to make – one that would set the stage for the rest of his international career.
The 22-year-old - born in Calgary, Alberta - retained eligibility to play for either the United States or Canada – even participating in a camp with the U.S. National Team earlier this year. Tuesday, Akindele was called up to the Canadian Men’s National Team after making his decision earlier this month.
“First of all, it’s just a great honor to represent my country - you know something I’ve been dreaming about since I was a kid,” the reigning MLS Rookie of the Year said. “I asked my family, friends and even the people I was playing with [here in Dallas] and weighed everyone’s opinion with my own thoughts and I think that helped me come to the right decision.”
One current teammate that Akindele listened to the most was fellow Canadian-national Kyle Bekker.
“He’s had nothing but great things to say about the guys,” Akindele said. “I’m just hoping to come in and meet everybody and just do the best that I can. If I get some playing time, that’s great, if not, [I’ll] just work hard at the camp and hope to be called up to the next one.”
Akindele will play with FC Dallas this weekend in San Jose, and then join the Canadian team in Orlando, Florida as they prepare for a pair of 2018 World Cup qualifying matches against Dominica starting on June 11.
“I’m just hoping to fit in with the group and I hope everybody accepts me in and it’ll be fun,” Akindele said of his new teammates. “Hopefully playing for the national team – you know you’re playing against a different level of players at the international level… I think playing against teams like that will help me improve as a player.”
During his absence for international duty – along with other players on the FC Dallas roster – Akindele has no doubt that FCD will be in good hands.
“It’s important for guys who haven’t played too much yet to step up,” he said. “We have a very deep team. I don’t think we’ll have any problems and the guys that do step into those spots and the starting roles will definitely succeed; I have no doubt about that.”