Ayo Akinola - North America's next potential superstar

The 20-year-old has been the breakout performer so far in the MLS is Back Tournament, scoring a goal every 35 minutes

1:00pm on Saturday 18th July 2020
Martin Macdonald

On Thursday, a goalscoring record was broken as Toronto FC defeated Montreal Impact 4-3 in the Canadian Classic.

Ayo Akinola is the name is on everyone’s lips in the United States and Canada at the moment.

In the MLS is Back Tournament, he became the first player ever to score a hat-trick in the Canadian Classic, as well as the second player ever to score two or more goals in successive matches for Toronto FC in the MLS.

Each goal displayed a different aspect of his game. For his first, he reads the game superbly well to keep himself onside and drift in behind his marker to convert an Alejandro Pozuelo cross at the back post.

Then, 37 minutes in, he latches on to a through pass, again from Pozuelo, and shows impressive strength and speed to hold off the attention of the defender before sending a cool finish across goal into the bottom corner.

Akinola’s record-breaking hat-trick goal came seven minutes from time, as he found himself one-on-one with the goalkeeper before flicking a delicate chip into the bottom corner.

For his performance in the match, he earned a 9.6 FC Rating.

Born in Detroit, Michigan, Akinola moved to Brampton, Ontario when he was young, making him eligible to play international football for the United States, Canada, or indeed Nigeria due to his parentage.

The most likely scenario for his international future will be remaining with the USA as he has represented them at U15, U17, and U20 levels.

But, in 2018 he told the Toronto Star about his international plans: “No time to rush. But at some point, I’m going to have to make a decision which one is the best fit for me.”

Over a handful of appearances in the MLS and the Canadian Championship over the past few years, Akinola has scored just two senior goals, but has already more than doubled that tally in his first appearances in the 2019/20 season.

On the subject of his heroes, he told “My favorite player is Ronaldinho.

“He always had a smile on his face on the field. If you're not having fun, why play? You've got to be loose. He was relaxed, enjoyed the game, loved what he was doing.”

Currently, key forward Jozy Altidore remains sidelined for Toronto as he battles to get back to full fitness after quarantined training by himself, but the way Akinola is currently playing the former Sunderland man is by no means guaranteed his place in the starting XI on his return.

After their opening two matches of the MLS is Back Tournament, Toronto FC currently lead Group C with four points accumulated so far, with Akinola scoring five across the two games.

Latest news


La Liga Table: Real Sociedad end weekend on top as Barca win

Real Sociedad end the weekend on top of the table as Barcelona eased the pressure on coach Ronald Koeman by beating Valencia.

  • 4 hours
Premier League

Premier League Table: Arsenal rely on Lacazette for late equaliser

Arsenal were lucky to escape defeat against Crystal Palace as Alexandre Lacazette scored late on to make it 2-2

  • 4 hours
Predicted XI

No Hazard or Bale? How Real Madrid could line up against Shakhtar Donetsk

Carlo Ancelotti will have to turn his Real Madrid side's Champions League campaign around with a tricky away trip to Ukraine

  • 9 hours
Predicted XI

Alisson and Fabinho to return? How Liverpool could line up against Atletico

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is hoping to call upon an almost fully fit squad for the club's Champions League trip to Madrid

  • 9 hours
Predicted XI

Grealish to return - How Man City could line up against Club Brugge

Manchester City will be hoping to bounce back in Europe from the loss against Paris Saint-Germain with a win in the Champions League

  • 9 hours
Predicted XI

Unchanged to keep unbeaten run? How Arsenal could line up against Crystal Palace

Mikel Arteta could name an unchanged Arsenal team in the hope they continue their current form against Crystal Palace.

  • 17 hours

Most read