Make no bones about it, despite the tough loss to Seattle in the Western Conference semifinals last year, where Seattle advanced only on away goals since both legs were draws, FC Dallas exceeded expectations last year simply by making it to the postseason.
Prior to the start of 2014, most people wrote off the Hoops due to the Ranger-esque collapses and failures the years before. And they were right to do so.
But FC Dallas proved them wrong on the backs of a ten-match unbeaten streak which put them in playoff position, a spot they would not relinquish.
One of the reasons FC Dallas was in that position was the breakout season forward Tesho Akindele had. With seven goals and three assists and becoming an integral part of the team, Akindele was named the MLS MVP for last year.
Not bad for a guy who came out the *great* Division II soccer power that is the Colorado School of Mines.
But now, after getting a chance to train with the U.S. Men’s National team this month and everyone knowing his name, Akindele is going to have to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump in order for FC Dallas to at least have the same season it had last year.
Unlike last year, Akindele comes into this season as someone every other team knows about. He won’t be able to sneak up on anyone this year. Opposing teams will be game planning for him and making sure he doesn’t burn him. So this is where making improvements in his second year will be very important for Akindele. He’s going to have to figure out different ways to beat opposing defenses and fight through however the defense tries to defend him.
Of course, getting to play a bit with the American national team in here in January has been a big help to move that along. While he didn’t make the roster for last night’s friendly against Chile (likely because he’s still weighing his options between the U.S. national team and the Canadian national team), he talked to the Dallas Morning News’ FC Dallas blog about how it was a great experience for him and that he learned he needed to step up his game, which is great for a player who’s garnered the accolades he has to recognize that he still has a long way to go.
In fact, later in the article, Akindele talks about how he’s not really happy about where he’s at playing-wise.
“I had a good year last year but that’s last year, so I need to make another name for myself this year and just keep improving,” Akindele told Steve Hunt. “I want this year to be better than last year.”
That’s mighty impressive stuff from a guy with as much potential as he has.
Of course, it won’t be Akindele by himself. There will be Blas Perez and Fabian Castillo and others that will also play a very important part in the success, or failures, of FC Dallas this coming season.
But all eyes will be very much trained on Akindele this year and he will have to find a way to avoid that sophomore slump.