Entering his second season with Orlando City, Tesho Akindele said he’s excited about the opportunity to work again with head coach Óscar Pareja.
“It’s pretty crazy, I feel like I don’t know if that happens to too many players or coaches, but I’m excited,” Akindele told reporters before Monday’s first day of preseason training. “He’s a great coach. I think his record speaks for itself, he’s done well in two different teams in MLS and this is his third chance, and I’m sure he’s going to do well again.”
Akindele and Pareja were together at FC Dallas for five seasons. Pareja drafted the Canadian forward from the Colorado School of Mines in 2014 before the duo went on to win the Supporters’ Shield and U.S. Open Cup in 2016.
After the 2018 season, the pair left Dallas — Pareja went to Liga MX side Club Tijuana and Akindele was traded to Orlando City where he went on to have his best individual season since being drafted to MLS in 2014.
Akindele, 27, netted 11 goals across all competitions for the Lions in 2019 to finish as second best in goalscoring.
Pareja said he’s been aware of Akindele’s growth in MLS and is not surprised that forward excelled last year.
“Tesho came from a second division team and probably not many were aware of him,” said Pareja. “We had the time to know Tesho in one of the training when I was in Colorado, and [I had] the opportunity to draft him. It was a little bit odd for everyone, but Tesho has shown everyone about his capacity, his talent and I had seen him grow in the league.”
“I think Tesho is a good example of especially the system in America with the college [players] can be pro players that have the tools to compete in the first division,” Pareja added.
Playing in his seventh season in MLS, though, Akindele said he’s playing with more confidence, but also feels he has the experience to pass down advice to the club’s younger players.
“Having a good season made me feel a little bit more confident,” said Akindele. “I’m getting a little bit older, so I feel like more of a veteran. I feel that I can kind of pass wisdom down to people so just kind of using my age and experience as well as you know my goalscoring ability to affect the game.”
It probably won’t come as a surprise, but team sources confirmed to the Orlando Soccer Journal that Óscar Pareja’s coaching staff will consist of José Maria Bazán (assistant), Fabian Bazán (strength and conditioning) and Venezuelan César Baena as the goalkeeper coach.
The Bazán brothers, originally from Argentina, were Pareja’s assistants at FC Dallas and most recently at Tijuana.
Baena worked with Fabian Bazán in the Venezuelan national team and Club Tijuana — both under César Farías who was in charge of El Vinotino from 2007-2013 and as well as Club Tijuana in 2014, the OSJ has learned.
Most recently, Baena mostly was the U-16/U-17 Development Academy goalkeeper coach.
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