FC Dallas forward Tesho Akindele accepts Canadian call-up in advance of Gold Cup

TORONTO — FC Dallas forward Tesho Akindele has accepted a call-up from Canada.

The Calgary-born Akindele, who also has U.S. citizenship, is part of Benito Floro’s Canadian roster announced Tuesday for the World Cup qualifying series against Dominica that opens next week.


Akindele, named MLS rookie of the year in 2014, accepted and then declined a Canadian invitation in November and attended a U.S. camp in January. But he has yet to be cap-tied.

That will change if he sets foot on the field for Canada, currently ranked 115th in the world, against No. 165 Dominica.

The 23-year-old forward has a Canadian mother and Nigerian father and lived in Canada — with stops in Calgary, Toronto and Winnipeg — until he was eight. His father, a financial analyst who also has Canadian citizenship, moved the family to Colorado for work.

Akindele, who played collegiate soccer at the Colorado School of Mines, was the sixth overall pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft.

The Canada team will meet Sunday in Orlando for a few days of training prior to heading to Roseau, Dominica, on June 10. They play at Warner Park in Roseau on June 11 before flying to Toronto to prepare for the second leg at BMO Field on June 16.

“With qualifying starting, our objective now is to win games,” Floro said in a statement. “So my objectives are always the same: win the games playing our style.

“This summer, we want to qualify for the next World Cup qualifying stage, we want to win the Gold Cup or at least qualify for the 2016 Copa Americas, and we want to qualify for the Olympics, which is very important for Canada Soccer as the Olympic team will look to form the base of the national team in the future.”

The winner of the Canada-Dominica series will enter the draw for the third and fourth rounds of qualifying in North and Central America and the Caribbean. That draw, scheduled for July 25, involves another home-and-away series in the third round before entering the fourth round in a four-team round robin competition that would start in November.

Should Akindele choose Canada, it will be a pleasant change.

Teal Bunbury (U.S.), Jonathan de Guzman (the Netherlands) and Owen Hargreaves (England) are just some of the marquee talent that have chosen to wear the jersey of another country in recent years.

But Canada has also benefited from players born elsewhere. English-born midfielder Marc Bircham for example, played for Canada before ever setting foot in the country.

The 23-man Canadian roster includes veterans Lars Hirschfeld, Julian de Guzman and Atiba Hutchinson.

Portland Timbers midfielder Will Johnson returns to the fold after a lengthy layoff due to injury, sickness and personal commitments.

Other MLS call-ups include Orlando rookie striker Cyle Larin as well as Vancouver Whitecaps midfielder Russell Teibert, Montreal Impact defender-midfielder Maxim Tissot, and Toronto FC defender Ashtone Morgan and midfielder Jonathan Osorio.

Next up for Canada following the Dominica series is the Gold Cup, the CONCACAF championship which runs July 7 to 26. Canada is in a group with Costa Rica, El Salvador and Jamaica.


Canada Roster

Goalkeepers: Milan Borjan, FK Radnicki Nis (Serbia); Lars Hirschfeld, Valerenga (Norway); Kenny Stamatopoulos, AIK (Sweden).

Defenders: Nana Attakora, San Antonio Scorpions (NASL); Manjrekar James, Pecsi MFC (Hungary); Dejan Jakovic, Shimizu S-Pulse (Japan); Ashtone Morgan, Toronto FC; Karl W. Ouimette, New York Red Bulls.

Defenders/Midfielders: David Edgar, Huddersfield Town (England); Nik Ledgerwood, Energie Cottbus (Germany); Adam Straith, Fredrikstad FK (Norway); Maxim Tissot, Montreal Impact.

Midfielders: Julian de Guzman, Ottawa Fury (NASL); Atiba Hutchinson, Besiktas (Turkey); Will Johnson, Portland Timbers; Jonathan Osorio, Toronto FC; Samuel Piette, Deportivo la Coruna (Spain); Russell Teibert, Vancouver Whitecaps.

Midfielder/Forward: Tosaint Ricketts, Hapoel Haifa (Israel). 

Forwards: Tesho Akindele, FC Dallas; Randy Edwini-Bonsu, Stuttgarter Kickers (Germany); Marcus Haber, Crewe Alexandra (England); Cyle Larin, Orlando City SC.


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Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press