For the first time since getting traded during the offseason to Orlando City, Tesho Akindele faced FC Dallas during Saturday’s 2-0 win at Exploria Stadium.
The forward struck the go-ahead goal in the 13th minute that eventually awarded the Lions the three points, but for Akindele, the evening was an emotional one going up against his former club.
“I mean it’s like motivation, it’s just a lot of mixed feelings,” said Akindele after the game. “I played for that team for five years. I really love the club, I have lots of respect for the ownership all the way down to the players at the academy. I love the club, I was glad to be there and I’m glad to be here too. It was a mix of emotions that’s hard to explain.”
Akindele nodded his respect to Dallas after opting to not celebrate after scoring his eighth goal of the season with the Lions.
“I have respect for the club,” he said. “They were great to me for five years. They drafted me, they gave me my starting professional career, so I have nothing but respect for Dallas.
Ruan in the cut
Orlando City right back Ruan pulled an unconventional move during Saturday’s game against Dallas.
The Brazilian is known for his speed and pace down the flanks, and that was seen at various times during the game. But it was his assist to Akindele’s goal that drew the attention.
Instead of making a run down the right side of the field, Ruan made a cut inside and dribbled into the middle before plating Akindele’s goal via a through-ball past a pair of Dallas defenders.
“It was a great piece of skill,” said Orlando coach James O’Connor. “I think that we keep preaching about space and, when you’re attacking, understanding where [the] space is and I think for Ruan to come inside and play a fantastic weighted ball.
But then you look at the quality and the finish from Tesho [Akindele], it’s slotted right in the corner, outstanding finish. It was a really good goal from our standpoint.”
O’Connor playing chess
Something noteworthy to mention was Orlando’s ability to hang on and manage the game.
It hasn’t been easy for the Lions through various times this season to hold on to a lead, and O’Connor credited his players for doing their jobs, especially in the second half that saw FC Dallas dominate and control possession.
“I thought from our standpoint we played some really good football,” said O’Connor. “I think second half they came in, put the extra striker on and started to push a little bit more. I thought then there was just a couple times where we just needed to manage the game and play a little bit better than we did.”
O’Connor went on to credit performances from João Moutinho, Carlos Ascues — who scored Orlando’s second goal — and Will Johnson.
“Individually, you look at the clearance from João, you look at Will, there are multiple players that you look at. And, Carlos, great credit to him,” said O’Connor. “I thought he had an incredible performance. You look at his energy, the amount of transitions he was able to create for us and then he gets his goal at the end.”
Kljestan jumps to No. 8 in assists
Sacha Kljestan made history on Saturday night after notching his 92nd MLS assist after setting up Carlos Ascues’ goal in stoppage time to secure Orlando the victory.
Following Saturday’s game, Kljestan chose to focus on the victory rather his personal accolades.
“Yeah, I mean, I don’t really care about that,” he said. “I know when my career ends and I look back on where I stand on that list I will be very proud of it but in the moment… I mean, I had no idea until somebody just told me… so I’m really glad we just got the three points.”
Kljestan jumps ahead of LA Galaxy legend Cobi Jones to No. 8 in most assists in MLS. Landon Donovan sits atop as the league leader of all-time assists with 136.
For more soccer coverage, follow the Soccer Journal on Twitter: @OSJSoccer