January 18th, 2021

Toronto FC’s Ayo Akinola unable to attend Canada camp due to medical reasons


By Neil Davidson, The Canadian Press on January 14, 2021.

Toronto FC's Ayo Akinola, left, vies for control of the ball with New England Revolution's Henry Kessler during the second half of an MLS soccer match, Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020, in Foxborough, Mass. Akinola scored in the first half to help Toronto FC win 1-0. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Steven Senne

Canada Soccer’s plan to showcase its men’s national program to Toronto FC striker Ayo Akinola has been derailed by medical issues.

Canada Soccer said Thursday that Akinola was one of four players who did not make the camp in Bradenton, Fla., due to medical reasons. The other three are Toronto’s Liam Fraser, Orlando City’s Tesho Akindele and Vancouver’s Michael Baldisimo.

Canadian team officials did not detail the medical reasons or explain why news of the players missing camp only came out Thursday when players started arriving days earlier.

All players and staff had to record at least two negative COVID-19 test results in the week before their travel. One player, who has not been identified, tested positive upon arrival in camp and is currently in isolation.

The 20-year-old Akinola, who was born in Detroit but moved to Canada when he was one, is eligible to play for Canada, the U.S. and Nigeria. He made his debut for the U.S. senior side in December, scoring in a 6-0 win over El Salvador, but is not cap-tied since the match was a friendly.

Akinola, whose Canadian-born younger brother Tom has featured in the Canadian youth setup, has come up through the U.S. ranks and played at the 2017 FIFA U-17 World Cup in India.

The Florida camp was seen as a chance to show Akinola what Canada offered.

Two English-based players invited to camp have since withdrawn. Theo Corbeanu, an 18-year-old forward, is staying with Wolves’ first team while 17-year-old forward Marcelo Flores remains with Arsenal’s under-18 squad.

The Canada camp is slated to run through Jan. 24 at the IMG Center in Bradenton, where the U.S. team is also training.

Canada coach John Herdman has added Vancouver’s Theo Bair, Toronto’s Jahkeele Marshall-Rutty and Jacob Shaffelburg, and FC Edmonton’s Amer Didic to the camp roster.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 14, 2021.

Follow @NeilMDavidson on Twitter.

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