Tesho Akindele - the man who won the MLS rookie of the year award in 2014. He has fallen tremendously far down the team totem pole. After playing more than 1500 minutes in each of his first four seasons he ended 2018 with only 584* minutes played. Consistency has frustrated fans for the duration of Tesho’s career and perhaps rightly so, but let’s take a look at the data first to see what the stats actually say.
As stated above, Tesho played over 900 minutes less in 2018 than he did in 2017. For comparison purposes Anton Nedyalkov (yes, the man who left in July) played 826 minutes. Tesho scored two goals this season on nine total shots. This season Tesho had career lows in the following categories: appearances, starts, minutes played, goals, assists (tied), shots per game, passing percentage, average aerials won, and so on. Essentially every statistical summary category this season was the worst in Akindele’s five-year career in Dallas. That is easily explained by the lack of minutes played and when we dig a little bit deeper we can see that Tesho did have a solid impact in his limited minutes played.
Tesho ranked 7th on the team in Key Passes per 90 minutes, 3rd in Goals per 90 minutes, and he was 12th on the team in Unsuccessful Touches per 90 minutes. He also ranked 8th on the team in times dispossessed per 90 minutes, had 0 assists this season, ranked 17th(!) on the team in successful dribbles per 90 minutes, ranked 12th in shots per 90 minutes, and was 14th in times fouled per 90 minutes. Why are these important? To me this means that Tesho should absolutely, 100% never be played as a winger. His game is not suited to taking people on 1v1 and he should be a striker. The places he excelled were places that you would expect a striker (#9) to succeed and the places that he struggled are places that you would expect wingers to succeed. He does not take players on as often as you would expect and he does not succeed as often as one would hope in those situations as well. What’s more - we would expect Tesho to have HIGHER per 90 stats in critical attacking statistics because he was brought on in games where the team needed a goal, and was thus putting on an attack to go at defenders and create dangerous opportunities.
2018 Game that best typifies Tesho
I am going to cheat here a bit and include 105 minutes (consecutive mind you) of play from Tesho. We will take the final 15 minutes of the Independence Day match against Atlanta United and the entire 90 minutes of the following game against Real Salt Lake. Of note here is that the RSL game was the only game in which Tesho played the entire 90 minutes this season.
July 4, 2018 - FC Dallas vs Atlanta United
Down 2-1 at home to Atlanta, Oscar Pareja elects to bring on Tesho in the 75th minute. In the final 15 minutes Tesho delivered what was possibly his most statistically dense and efficient performance of his career.
15 minutes, 12 touches, nine passes attempted, nine passes completed, two shots, two shots on goal, two goals, one offside and one time dispossessed. Tesho scored twice in three minutes to give FC Dallas a dramatic night, starting the fireworks early in Frisco.
July 7, 2018 - FC Dallas at Real Salt Lake
After a standout performance in the final 15 minutes, Tesho was given the start against Real Salt Lake just a few days later on July 7. Here is his stat line from that game:
90 minutes played, 38 touches, 24 passes attempted, 11 passes completed, one successful dribble, 0 shots, 0 shots on target, 0 goals, 0 assists, one offside. I would add a photo or video here but frankly that was an overall poor team performance and there were not many highlights from this game in a 2-0 loss.
Until the end of November, we may not know the fate of Tesho in Dallas. I would not be surprised if the team picks up his option for 2019 but it would definitely depend on what the salary amount would be. Statistically speaking Tesho did not have a great season, but with limited opportunities his per 90 numbers were about what you would expect for a part time player. At 26 years of age, he is not getting any younger but is certainly not so old that he cannot physically perform. I struggle to believe that a return to a traditional striker role would do anything but help Tesho’s performances. If he is brought back then I would hope to see him partnering Colman and/or Urruti up to as the third striker on the team, but time will tell on our Canadian from Colorado School of the Mines.