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2022 Orlando City Season in Review: Tesho Akindele

How did the big Canadian fare in his fourth year as a Lion?

MLS: Toronto FC at Orlando City SC Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City signed Tesho Akindele back in December of 2018, sending $100,000 of Targeted Allocation Money (TAM) in 2019 and $50,000 of General Allocation Money (GAM) in 2020 to FC Dallas in exchange for his services. The Canadian forward had previously spent time working with Oscar Pareja at FC Dallas, and he has been with the team for a year longer than Pareja himself has.

He signed a new contract with Orlando in July of 2021 with two option years and the Lions picked up his 2022 option last December.

With the arrival of Ercan Kara, return of Alexandre Pato from injury, and the presence of Benji Michel on the roster, Akindele faced plenty of competition for minutes this year, as was the case in his previous years on the team. Like in past years, Tesho was not expected to be the main scorer on the team, but rather to make spot starts and provide a boost from the bench. Let’s have a look at how his 2022 season played out.

Statistical Breakdown

Tesho made 27 appearances during the Major League Soccer regular season, with four of those coming as a starter and totaling 591 minutes. He took 22 shots, putting six of them on target and scoring three goals. He passed with 70.7% accuracy, attempting 181 and completing 128, but did not record an assist just a season removed from setting a career high with six. On the defensive side of things, he made 12 of the 18 tackles he attempted and recorded three interceptions, six clearances, and two blocked shots. Akindele also won 28 aerial duels. He was fouled four times, committed 10 fouls of his own, and did not receive a booking.

He also made appearances in four of Orlando City’s U.S. Open Cup games, all as a substitute, and racked up 143 minutes on the field. He took three shots, put one on target, passed with 60.4% accuracy, and made two interceptions.

Akindele also got a start with Orlando City B in the MLS NEXT Pro, playing 45 minutes. In that game, he scored a goal, had two shots, and passed with 90% accuracy.

Best Game

The honor of Tesho’s best game goes to Orlando City’s 2-1 win on the road over Charlotte FC. Akindele entered the fray with 79 minutes gone, as the Lions chased a winning goal after McKinze Gaines’s 66th minute equalizer. He wasn’t the most active, as he only recorded 11 touches and passed with 71% accuracy on the offensive end, but his big contribution came as the game wound down. The Canadian tracked back to just outside his own box to dispossess a Charlotte player and he continued up the field to run onto a ball Junior Urso sent down the right channel. His initial shot at goalkeeper Kristijan Kahlina was saved, but the rebound came right back to him and Tesho made no mistake with his left foot, putting the ball in the net and giving Orlando a lead that it wouldn’t relinquish.

He also notched the aforementioned tackle which started the break, and recorded an important clearance from a set piece. His late heroics earned him a grade of 6.5 in our player grades from that match, and helped the Lions continue a five-game winning streak across all competitions.

2022 Final Grade

The Mane Land staff awarded Tesho a final grade of 6 out of 10 in 2022 — the same grade he received in 2021. His minutes drastically fell off from the 1,360 he saw last year, but he still managed to score the same number of goals in MLS play. His big decrease came in the assists category, as he managed six in 2021 compared to none this year. That being said, two of his three goals were late winners, and Orlando City would not have made the playoffs without the four points those goals provided. Tesho Time was plenty of fun to behold.

2022 Outlook

Akindele has an option on his contract for the 2023 season, and there’s a reasonably good chance that it will be picked up. He’s proven himself capable of scoring important goals, is a solid enough backup with MLS experience, and is arguably more familiar with how Oscar Pareja wants to play than anyone else on the team. He’s also a good ambassador for the club, and is a frequent face at the club’s various outreach programs. I would not be surprised to see him wearing purple once again next year.


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