Am I the only one who has seen Tesho Akindele play lately?
The sixth overall draft pick this year has been incredible for FC Dallas, helping them extend their unbeaten streak to 9 games on Saturday. Akindele earned his starting spot after an injury crisis left Dallas in a desperate situation back in May, and through his tough play, smart positioning, and finishing ability, he has kept it. Akindele was instrumental in Dallas’ Lamar Hunt US Open Cup run this year, scoring an overtime winner against the Houston Dynamo in the fifth round. He has also been an explosive force for the Hoops in MLS play, scoring 7 goals in 16 games, including a hat trick against the San Jose Earthquakes in Buckshaw Stadium. That is an impressive record for anyone, and is especially impressive for Akindele’s rookie season. Akindele, who holds the all time scoring record for the Colorado School of Mines, was a bit of a surprise signing by Dallas at the 2014 Super Draft, but he has paid dividends beyond what could have been expected of him.
The frontrunner for the MLS Rookie of the Year trophy has been Harrison Shipp of the Chicago Fire. Shipp had a breakout game against the New York Red Bulls back in May, earning himself a hat trick and an assist. He has continued to play well for the Fire, and remains a top contender for the prestigious award. However, Akindele has just passed Shipp in number of goals scored, and he did it in less games. Akindele has notched 7 goals on the season so far, and Shipp has 6. Currently, Shipp has played in 21 league games, and started in all but two of them. Akindele has played in 16 league games, and started 13 of those. I don’t mean to discount Shipp’s stellar performances, but, in my opinion, Akindele has really stepped up, and may have started to edge Shipp out as rookie of the year.
FC Dallas has 10 games left this season. Chicago has 11. Plenty of time for one player to really make a statement for himself. But if Akindele keeps playing like he has been lately, I can already tell you who it’s going to be.