Tesho Akindele has been playing some of the best soccer of his young career in 2017. But the more we see him on the field the more we end up questioning what his best position is for FC Dallas. Is it up top in a 4-4-2? Is it out wide? Or is it something else altogether?
Our staff is back for our weekly discussion panel to debate where he should go.
Jack Rouse - Second Striker
Tesho fits the system. That’s all you can ask of a player on this team. His big frame allows him to hold up the ball and lay it off to a wide player or Acosta. No one else on the team can offer that. While Urruti is a great striker for all that he can do, he doesn’t excel at the same things Tesho does. While he may not be a great finisher, Tesho is a key cog to FCD’s attack. Check out Jason Poon’s article on his role with FCD to get some more explanation of why he fits Dallas’ high pressing system so well.
Jared Tilley - Winger
I want to see Tesho, Colman, Urruti and Barrios running at defenders and counter attacking teams to death. I understand that in his time at wing, over the last year or so, haven’t been that fruitful. However, he is in great form right now and might be able to continue it out wide. This team is currently struggling to score and it can’t hurt to slide him back outside. Sure, it’s unfair to Tesho, but it’s his fault for being able to play both positions and slide in between them.
Nathan Hill - Second Striker
Tesho can be frustrating. There were moments in this offseason when I wondered if he might end up somewhere else, maybe exposed in the expansion draft or traded for some sweet, sweet allocation cash. But Pareja believes in him, so I believe in him. Tesho has rewarded us a bit with some renewed play. I like that Tesho has some flexibility, serving as a decent option on the wing, but he has never truly impressed there. As a second striker, I think he has more potential if he can stay in the starting lineup. His size and athleticism is a challenge for defenders, and he doesn’t seem afraid to toe the line and get in advanced positions to put away balls. Are there things he can work on? Yes. His first touch sometimes lets him down, and it makes things a little challenging for him as a winger or in a more target forward role. I think it’s time to give him more minutes there and open up that winger spot to other competitors, including a healthy Ryan Hollingshead and young Paxton Pomykal.
Etan Cohn - Second Striker, but...
To me, it seems clear that Tesho's best position is striker in a 2-forward setup, but that may not be the best option for FC Dallas at the moment. Let's break down Tesho's attributes a bit. His 3 biggest strengths are (1) speed, (2) pressuring/defend-as-an-attacker ability, and (3) finding and finishing chances when not heavily marked, whether it's from his foot or head. Tesho can't play as a lone striker because he is not as effective when opposing defenses are focused on him.
Tesho's second best position is as a winger, where he can still use his speed and pressuring ability, but has trouble creating as many dangerous plays for himself and his teammates. Right now however, I believe this may become his best spot for the team. Urruti and Akindele work well together, but Colmán is expected to become an elite striker at some point. When Diaz comes back, FCD is also going to go into a formation with only 1 forward. FCD is not as deep on the wings, and I believe that Tesho can help this team a lot by rotating/competing with Lamah for the left wing.
El Chico Carmona - Winger
I know that many here will argue for second striker, but FCD is likely to revert back to a 4-5-1 once Diaz returns. This is pretty much inevitable, so Tesho should be on the wings, pushing Lamah for playing time, or pushing him aside.
Etan has already explained Tesho’s obvious strengths, but forgot one added strength that Tesho brings to the table at winger: Size. Tesho is pretty big at that position, and is often matched up against smaller fullbacks.
Even if FCD sticks with the 4-4-2 upon Diaz's return, Tesho starting on the wing, gives FCD the added flexibility to switch to a 4-3-3 at any time in a match with Tesho-Urruti-Colman or whoever starts as the second striker.