Frisco, TX (SportsNetwork.com) - FC Dallas forward Tesho Akindele has been named Major League Soccer's Rookie of the Year, the league announced on Monday.
The award culminates an outstanding season for the 22-year-old Akindele which saw him rise from NCAA Division II soccer to the national-team radar of both his native Canada and the United States.
Akindele finished the 2014 season with seven goals and three assists, starting 18 games and making 26 appearances. He played all 270 minutes for FCD in the postseason and scored the opening goal in the club's 2-1 win over the Vancouver Whitecaps in the Western Conference knockout round.
Akindele played four years for the Colorado School of Mines and is the first player in team history to win Rookie of the Year.
He was drafted by Dallas with the sixth pick in the 2014 MLS SuperDraft, but played just 15 minutes in two appearances in the first 10 Dallas games of the season.
"At the beginning of the year, I had the highest hopes," Akindele said. "I wasn't getting too much time, but as things went on, I got so much playing time, got to score goals, in the roster all the time. It's been a fantastic year. I couldn't be happier."
But an injury to playmaker Mauro Diaz forced Dallas to change their style, and Akindele played a key role, seeing time both as a wide player and a target forward, capable of switching spots during a game.
He's the first forward to win the award since Kansas City's CJ Sapong in 2011, and just the fourth forward to win the award since it was introduced in 1996.