Canadian international Tesho Akindele is hoping to lift the US Open Cup with Orlando City

Canadian international Tesho Akindele is hoping to lift the US Open Cup with Orlando City

Canadian international Tisho Akindele has been on the mark of late for Orlando City SC, scoring late goals to secure wins against Charlotte FC and New York City FC.

He hopes to be in good shape for Wednesday’s Lamar Hunt US Open Cup final against second-tier USL champions Sacramento Republic FC.

“It’s been a rough couple of weeks for me personally,” Akindele said. “Obviously being able to score two really big goals for our team, but then just for our team, we’ve won four games in a row and Now we are going to the cup final. So there is a lot of movement with us. “We.”

The 30-year-old Calgary-born forward won the U.S. Open Cup with FC Dallas in 2016, coming off the bench in the 58th minute under current Orlando head coach Oscar Pareja.

Orlando faces a resilient underdog in Sacramento, which has already dispatched MLS opposition in the San Jose Earthquakes, Los Angeles Galaxy and Sporting Kansas City.

Sacramento opened tournament play with a 6-0 win over Portland Timbers Under-23s before a 2-1 victory over third-tier USL League One Central Valley Fuego FC. It then dispatched USL League champions Phoenix Rising FC 2–0, San Jose Galaxy 2–1 and Kansas City 5–4 in a penalty shootout after the semifinals ended 0–0.

Sacramento is fourth in the USL Championship Western Conference at 12-8-7. Orlando is fifth in the MLS Eastern Conference at 12-10-6.

Orlando, which entered the tie in the third round, defeated USL champion Tampa Bay Rowdies 2-1, Philadelphia Union 2-1, Inter Miami 4-2 in a penalty shootout (after a 1-1 tie). reached the finals. ), Nashville City 6–5 in a penalty shootout (after a 1–1 tie) and New York Red Bulls 5–1 in the semifinals.

Akindele started against Miami and Nashville and came off the bench against the Red Bulls.

All of Orlando’s tournament games were played at home. Sacramento also played at home in addition to its quarterfinal win over Galagac.

Wednesday’s game at Exploria Stadium is already sold out with an expected attendance of 25,500.

“A lot of our games during the year don’t sell out and it’s still very loud in this stadium so I can’t even imagine how the atmosphere will sell out,” Akindele said. “I hope we get a lot of Sacramento fans there as well because it’s always fun to have a back-and-forth like this between two fan groups. It just adds to the atmosphere.”

“We don’t want to have too many Sacramento fans,” he quickly added. “Maybe we have them in the corner somewhere.”

Orlando is looking to lift its first trophy since joining MLS in 2015. The US Open champion also earns a spot in the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League.

“We just think it’s our time here,” Akindele said. “And we think the fan base here deserves a trophy at the MLS level and we hope to be the team that brings it to them.”

Florida’s only team to ever win the US Open Cup dates back to 1913. The Florida Suncoast Soccer League hosted the St. Petersburg Kickers in 1989.

The last non-MLS team to reach the championship game was the Charleston Battery, who defeated DC United in 2008 with Canadian Marco Reda.

Orlando had the weekend off to prepare for the finals and played its last game on August 31 when Seattle lost 3-2. No such luck for Sacramento, which dug deep into its roster in Saturday’s 3-1 loss at East-leading Louisville City FC.

In nine MLS seasons, Akindele has 42 goals and 16 assists in 232 regular season appearances, including 115 starts. He has another three goals in 13 games.

Born in Calgary, Akindele moved to Mississauga, Ont., when he was two and Winnipeg when he was four. Three years later his father, a financial analyst, moved the family to Toronto, Colo., north of Denver.

But there are regular family gatherings at his grandfather’s house near Kelowna, B.C. He also has family in Edmonton, Toronto and Vancouver.

Akindele has won 19 caps for Canada with three goals and two assists. His last national team appearance was in the 2021 Gold Cup and he did not feature in the final round of the World Cup.

However, he is still keeping an eye on Qatar.

“I’m sure hoping (to make the Canadian team) and I’m trying every day to work as hard off the field and then really try to put in the performances on the field that get me. Called up to the team.” I’ve been, especially the forward position is very deep in the team, there are a lot of talented players right now, so even being in this conversation is a real blessing for me.

“At the end of the year, I hope I’m there on the list that goes to Qatar. But if I’m not, I’ll be here in Orlando as the team’s number one fan, because I I have a lot of time with these guys.”

Akindele was drafted sixth overall by Dallas in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft after an outstanding career at the Colorado School of Mines where he set a school record with 76 goals while studying electrical engineering. He won the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference Player of the Year in 2012 and ’13.

The awards were ongoing. He won MLS Rookie of the Year in 2014 with seven goals and three assists in 26 games (including 18 starts) and led Dallas to the 2016 Supporters’ Shield and US Open Cup titles. Helped to catch. Six of those goals came in a span of six games in July-August of that year.

He was traded to Orlando in December 2018 for US$100,000 in target allocation money and US$50,000 in general allocation money. Akendale is out of contract after this season.

“You never know what the future holds. That’s the life of a football player,” he said.

Off the field, Akindele earned a master’s degree in finance after finishing his engineering degree. He has invested in real estate with a recent interest in urbanism, the study of the physical needs of urban communities.

He has turned real estate into a commodity as a tool to “improve the lives of cities and people.”

“Whatever I end up doing after football, I hope to be able to contribute positively to my community, my neighborhood, my city, whatever it is.”

Akindele, who is married with two children, already has reason to celebrate Wednesday. His younger son Rook turns one that day.

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