FC Dallas announced their off-season roster moves yesterday, which included the team picking up options on six players and declining those of another ten. One of the six players who’ll don the Hoops (?) again in 2018 is Tesho Akindele. A lot of FCD faithful don’t agree with this move, but I’m going to give you three reasons why this was a smart move by the club.
There is something to be said for consistency. Two things: No FC Dallas player has scored at least four goals in four straight seasons outside of Akindele and no current FCD player has more goals than Tesho’s 22 during that span. Yes, Maxi has 21 in half that time (though not in terms of minutes played) and Michael Barrios isn’t far behind with 19 in three seasons, but Tesho has shown us what he’s capable of and has consistently done that since 2014.
I will say, however, we can only see those numbers fairly if we take Tesho for who he is: A substitute-level player who will probably only see 1,500 minutes per season (he’s averaging 1,568 in his career). If this is the case, though, a .32 g/90 mark is just what you’d want from a player who’ll consistently be in the 18 but likely not in the starting XI.
Like Chap Stick
Players like Tesho are chap stick: You don’t always think about them or consistently use them, but when you need a solid attacking substitute, it’s really nice to have one around.
FC Dallas is only paying Tesho $115,000 (or the equivalent of 115,000 tubes of chap stick), so he’s in no way a major impact on the team’s budget considering that’s roughly the same amount Coy Craft and Carlos Cermeno are each paid, who played 326 minutes in 2017, combined.
If $115,000 gets you four or five goals and some flexibility at the forward and winger positions, then yeah — give me some chap stick.
While he won Rookie of the Year just four years ago, Tesho is now a veteran on this team — especially considering he’s one of only seven remaining players from that 2014 squad. He has a strong locker room presence and can speak to both up and down seasons as well — crucial following years like the team’s most recent.
More importantly, he’s been with Papi during all of Pareja’s time in Frisco. He knows his system intimately and has clearly found a place within the rotation to contribute. Yes, he can certainly contribute more. 2017 was definitely Tesho’s worst season, but considering the team as a whole also had their worse season in recent years, he’s still on the curve.
In the end, we understand an Oscar Pareja-coached team does not rely on a 20-goal scorer, nor does it rely on a consistent starting XI week-in and week-out. Tesho Akindele is the kind of player who won’t win games on his own or make any MLS All-Star teams, but every team needs glue (or chap stick if you prefer my initial broken analogy) and the Canadian can provide just that whether it’s as a 65th-minute sub or the cause of laughter out on the training ground.
Either way, he’s been impeccably average and, following a year of below-average performances, suddenly that’s not a bad place to find yourself in.