A little over two years ago, on Dec. 8, 2018, Orlando City acquired forward Tesho Akindele from FC Dallas in exchange for $100,000 of Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) in 2019 and $50,000 of General Allocation Money (GAM) in 2020. There wasn’t a ton of fanfare surrounding the signing, but the big Canadian proceeded to have a career year, knocking in 10 goals and contributing three assists.
The performance was enough for the club to sign Akindele to a pair of option years, which he did on July 10.
The question entering 2020 was whether the Canadian could sustain his 2019 level of production going into his second year with the team. Let’s take a look at how he did.
Tesho played in 17 regular games and both of the teams postseason games, starting eight of the regular season games, and subbing on for both playoff clashes. He played 821 minutes of regular season action, a 1,000-minute decrease from last year when he logged 1,880 minutes. He was on for 49 minutes during the team’s postseason run.
Akindele scored three goals on 12 shots, putting six of those shots on goal. He committed five fouls, but wasn’t shown a card, and also drew seven fouls. He passed the ball at an 82.6% rate, and completed five dribbles while recording four interceptions, eight clearances, nine tackles, and a block defensively.
Akindele’s best game of the season was the Lions’ 4-1 thumping of Atlanta United at Exploria Stadium. With Mauricio Pereyra not in the starting XI, Akindele partnered with Daryl Dike up top, with the Canadian often dropping just behind his fellow striker to pick up the ball and look to help create things. On Orlando’s first goal he did a great job of moving into space and pulling defenders away from Dike. While it won’t show up in the stats, it was an intelligent run and an important part of the goal.
For the goal he scored in the second half, he both started and finished the move. He flicked a header over the top of the defense for Dike to run onto, then arrived late in the box and settled into a pocket of open space and calmly placed the ball past Brad Guzan with his first touch.
He completed 10 of his 13 passes for a 77% success rate, and played two key passes. He took two shots, scoring with one of them, and also won an aerial duel. He was subbed out after playing 62 minutes, scoring with his last touch of the game. Our Marcus Mitchell awarded him a 7.5/10 rating, with only Man of the Match Daryl Dike scoring higher, with an 8.
2020 Final Grade
The Mane Land staff awarded Tesho a composite grade of 5.5/10 for this season, which is down one point from last year’s 6.5. He didn’t play nearly as much as in 2019, in large part due to Dike’s emergence and form. He only went the full 90 minutes once, so it may have been difficult for him to get into a good rhythm and run of form.
Tesho is under contract, so he’ll be back for the 2021 season. He’ll face competition for minutes from Dike, as well as Matheus Aias and Benji Michel. He has a part to play in this team, especially if MLS is able to play a full slate of games next season. He’ll want to provide a bit more offensively than he was able to this season, and while he may not be able to replicate his numbers from 2019, expect to see a good amount of him in 2021.