OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — Forward Ayo Akinola has switched his affiliation from the United States to Canada and could debut for his new nation in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
The 21-year-old, who plays for Toronto in Major League Soccer, was on the U.S. team at the 2017 Under-17 World Cup and was on the initial roster for the 2019 Under-20 World Cup before he injured an ankle.
He made his American senior national team debut in a December exhibition against El Salvador.
Akinola has two goals in nine league games this year for Toronto, his fourth season with the senior team.
“I’m really excited to represent Canada at the international level,” Ayo Akinola said in a statement Wednesday released by the Canadian Soccer Association. “It’s a very exciting time for the country with all the quality that’s on the roster. Canada has been my home for almost all my life and I’m excited to give back.”
Canada plays Martinique on July 10 in the Gold Cup and plays the U.S. on July 18, among three first-round matches for the Canadians in Kansas City, Kansas City.
Seeking its first World Cup berth since 1986, Canada opens the final round of World Cup qualifying in the North and Central American and Caribbean region on Sept. 2 at home against Honduras, part of a group that includes the U.S., Mexico, Costa Rica, Jamaica, Panama and El Salvador.
“We’ve been working for the last 18 months to bring Ayo home to play for Canada,” national team coach John Herdman said. ”I’m looking forward to immersing him into the men’s national team environment.”
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