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Tesho Akindele Commits to Canada, Earns Call-Up

The 23-year-old native of Calgary, AB and reigning MLS Rookie of the Year joins Benito Floro's squad for the second round of FIFA World Cup qualifying.

Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY Sports

It was the international news we were waiting to hear. For months, breaths were baited, hopes were raised and all eyes were focused on the news cycle to see if popular sentiment would win out. But at long last, our wishes have been confirmed and Sepp Blatter has stepped d-

-wait, no, I mean the bigger international news item: Tesho Akindele of FC Dallas has committed to the Canadian men's national team (CanMNT), to the great joy of Canadian soccer fans everywhere. Akindele is in decent form for his club in his sophomore year, with three goals and an assist in 13 appearances. In 2014, Akindele's seven goals and three assists in 26 appearances - a pace he's roughly on to equal in 2015 - was enough to win him the Rookie of the Year award. Clearly, that kind of production and potential was more than enough to earn him a spot on Benito Floro's FIFA World Cup qualifying roster - a spot that apparently was not closed off after Akindele was called up to a United States men's national team (USMNT) camp last November.

It's no secret that the reluctance of dual-national players to commit to Les Rouges has been frustrating for supporters over the decades, to say nothing of the gut-punch it must be for the coaches, technical staff and no-longer-teammates. In comparison, Akindele's decision to join CanMNT over USMNT is nothing short of a minor victory that can be held up as an example to other on-the-fence players (*cough* Ethan Finlay *cough*). If nothing else, it's a much-needed counterpoint to the recent unpleasantness from the CanMNT ranks courtesy of Lucas Cavallini. Thankfully, it appears Cavallini's pointless stone-walling of his nation - a nation that has, according to the Canadian Soccer News article, attempted to call him up multiple times but has been "repeatedly turned down" - is not indicative of the opinions of all dual-nationals, thank goodness. Akindele's arrival will no doubt be a boost to a Canadian attacking corps that could use a few good attacking prospects to restock the aging talent pool.

Speaking of that talent pool, let's take a quick look at who Tesho will be joining in Orlando for training on Sunday, June 7th:

Name Age Club
Goalkeepers
BORJAN, Milan 27 Radnički Nis (SRB)
HIRSCHFELD, Lars 36 Vålerenga (NOR)
STAMATOPOULOS, Kenny 35 AIK (SWE)
Defenders
ATTAKORA, Nana 26 San Antonia Scorpions (USA)
EDGAR, David 28 (loan) Huddersfield Town (ENG)
JAMES, Manjrekar 21 Pécsi MFC (HUN)
JAKOVIC, Dejan 29 Shimizu S-Pulse (JPN)
MORGAN, Ashtone 24 Toronto FC (CAN)
OUIMETTE, Karl 22 New York Red Bulls (USA)
STRAITH, Adam 24 Fredrikstad FK (NOR)
TISSOT, Maxim 23 Impact de Montréal (CAN)
Midfielders
DE GUZMAN, Julian 34 Ottawa Fury FC (CAN)
HUTCHINSON, Atiba 32 Beşiktaş (TUR)
JOHNSON, Will 28 Portland Timbers (USA)
LEDGERWOOD, Nik 30 Energie Cottbus (GER)
OSORIO, Jonathan 22 Toronto FC (CAN)
PIETTE, Samuel 20 Deportivo la Coruña (ESP)
TEIBERT, Russell 22 Vancouver Whitecaps FC (CAN)
Forwards
AKINDELE, Tesho 23 FC Dallas (USA)
EDWINI-BONSU, Randy 25 Stuttgarter Kickers (GER)
HABER, Marcus 26 Crewe Alexandra (ENG)
LARIN, Cyle 20 Orlando City SC (USA)
RICKETTS, Tosaint 27 Hapoel Haifa (ISR)

First and foremost, this roster represents a huge blow to one of the stalwart providers of Canadian talent for years, Unattached FC. Every single player on the 23-man roster is gainfully employed with only one (defender David Edgar) being out on loan from his parent club (Birmingham City FC). Unattached FC's loss is everyone else's gain, though, as Canadian players are finding homes in Canada, USA, England, Germany and Norway, plus a few outliers like Israel (forward Tosaint Ricketts) and Turkey (Canadian soccer god midfielder Atiba Hutchinson). Finally, a few notable names are missing from this qualifying roster, names which one would expect to see when the Gold Cup squad is announced later this month: the likes of defenders Marcel de Jong and Doneil Henry and forward Simeon Jackson, for example. Here's hoping they're just being rested for bigger opposition and not being left out in the cold, or the worst case scenario - taking the tack of Cavallini and turning their back on their countries.