Ayo Akinola’s absence from both the United States and Canadian Olympic qualifying preliminary rosters for Concacaf’s Olympic qualifying tournament turned heads, but U.S. coach Jason Kreis has shed some light on the Toronto FC player’s omission.
Kreis revealed in an interview with MLS Soccer that Akinola was left off the U.S. Under-23 national team’s preliminary Olympic qualifying roster due to health issues.
“Ayo is a player that is having some health issues, and that’s why he was not listed in our group, “Kreis told MLS Soccer. “So we believe that he’s unable to train or play right now.”
Akinola was a part of the USMNT’s 6-0 friendly win over El Salvador in December, scoring in his senior debut for Gregg Berhalter’s side. Akinola was not included in the USMNT squad for its January, camp and was slated to take part in a January camp with the Canadian national team but wound up missing out due to injury.
Akinola has yet to recover from that same injury issue, and has reportedly been unable to train fully in the opening days of Toronto FC’s preseason, which kicked off in Toronto on February 18th.
The Michigan-born player made his MLS debut for TFC in 2018 and since has impressed in limited time with the first team. Akinola scored nine league goals in 15 matches (11 starts) for the Canadian club in a shortened 2020 regular season.
In total, Akinola has played in 28 league matches for TFC, scoring 10 goals and registering two assists.
Akinola has represented the United States at the Under-15, U-17, and U-20 levels, playing 51 combined matches. Canada has continued to push for his allegiance ahead of a busy 2021 schedule which features Olympic Qualifying, the Concacaf Gold Cup, and FIFA World Cup Qualifying.
There is no timetable for his return to the field, but he will remain a top target for both the USMNT and Canada continuing throughout the calendar year.