First there was Teal Bunbury, then there was Sydney LeRoux. Now it appears we could be close to having our third case of a player with Canadian roots snubbing Canada in favor of the U.S. national team.
FC Dallas rookie standout Tesho Akindele has turned down a call-up to the Canadian national team for its upcoming friendly against Panama and will be joining the U.S. national team for its upcoming friendlies against Colombia and Ireland, sources confirmed to Goal USA on Thursday.
Akindele’s decision to snub Canada was first reported on Wednesday in Canada by TSN, and the decision is sure to ruffle feathers up north, while potentially giving Jurgen Klinsmann his latest dual-national coup. Sources tell Goal USA that Akindele originally accepted Canada's call-up for the Panama friendly, but he recently backed out of the commitment and told Canadian officials he would be joining the U.S. team's upcoming camp in London.
The MLS Rookie of the Year contender is an intriguing attacking prospect, with his speed and goal-scoring ability, and would be a good fit for the 4-3-3 system Klinsmann has been using lately. Born in Canada but raised in the United States from the age of 9, Akindele has enjoyed a breakout season with FC Dallas since being chosen with the fifth overall pick in the 2014 MLS Draft.
Akindele, 22, finished the regular season with seven goals and three assists, tying him with Chicago’s Harrison Shipp for most goals by an MLS rookie in 2014.
The possibility of Akindele considering the U.S. isn’t a complete shock to the Canadian national team, with head coach Benito Floro telling Goal USA back in September that he would not pressure Akindele or any other dual national on their national team choice.
“That’s a decision he has to make,” Floro told Goal USA when asked about Akindele’s national team future. “I never make a player take a decision under pressure. Only he knows where his heart is on a decision like that and you have to respect whatever he chooses.”
Akindele was reportedly close to securing his American citizenship, and his acceptance of a U.S. call-up would suggest he has received it. He previously spent time in the Canadian under-17 national team setup, but would not need to file a one-time FIFA Change of Association form because he never played for Canada in an official competition.