Aaron Kovar (left) & Sean Okoli (right) in action for the Sounders U-23 in 2013 (SoundersPhotos.com)
Tacoma, Wash. – Seattle Sounders FC announced today the signing of two stars from the Sounders U-23 to MLS contracts, midfielder Aaron Kovar and forward Sean Okoli. Kovar and Okoli are the 6th and 7th Sounders U-23’s to sign with Major League Soccer clubs. They will join DeAndre Yedlin as Sounders U-23 alumni currently suiting up for the Sounders 1st Team.
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“It is a proud moment when players that have significant history in the Sounders programming sign with the first team,” said Sounders U-23 Head Coach and Sounders FC Director of Youth Development. “After watching them both play last summer with the Sounders U23’s and then this fall in college, it is exciting to see them take the next step.”
Kovar, 20, played for the Sounders FC Academy from 2010-2012 and the Sounders U-23s in 2013, the midfielder was also called into the U-18 U.S. National Team in 2011. While with the Sounders U-23 last year, he registered .6 assists per game.
Aaron Kovar said about his time with the Sounders U-23’s, “I think the U-23s is a really well-run team, and logistically they’ve done a great job assembling a great coaching staff. I really enjoyed it. We had some good games. The travel is a little hectic, at times, but I thought it was a really good stepping stone and it helped to bridge the gap for me.”
Kovar added about the professional taste that the U-23’s provides, “There’s always a turnover of guys which at first is a little unnerving when you’re not used to it, but once you get the swing of it, it becomes part of normal life. If anything, it creates an environment where not doing your best isn’t really an option. It was really good preparation.”
Kovar was the Gatorade Washington State Player of the Year in 2011 and earned Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors in his first season at Stanford, in 2012. He started every match for Stanford as a sophomore in 2013, ranking second on the team with six assists and earning an Honorable Mention All-Pac-12 selection.
“I feel honored to be part of this club,” Kovar added about signing with the 1st Team. “I’ve been a fan since I was 10 years old going to USL games with my dad. I’m excited to be part of my hometown club, to meet all my teammates and get ready for the preseason.”
Sean Okoli played two summers with the Sounders U-23 during his time at Wake Forest. The striker scored nearly a goal every other game for the U-23s. In three seasons at Wake Forest, Okoli, 20, scored 24 goals with nine assists in 61 appearances. He led the team in goals-scored each of the past two seasons.
Sean Okoli navigates three defenders during the summer of 2013 (SoundersPhotos.com)
Okoli earned First Team All-ACC honors in 2013, registering nine goals with three assists. In 2012, Okoli notched a career-high 11 goals, and was named Second Team All-ACC and earned NSCAA Player of the Week honors in October. In his first collegiate season, he finished third on the team with 11 points (four goals and three assists) and was named to the All-ACC Freshman Team in 2011.
A native of Federal Way, Okoli graduated from Todd Beamer High School, where he scored 19 goals with 14 assists as a senior. Sean played his youth soccer for the Sounders FC Academy, and has also played for the United States at the youth levels.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” said Okoli. “I can’t wait to play at CenturyLink in front of all of the fans. I am excited to help the team win games, score goals and really get my career started.”
Kovar and Okoli were the first Sounders FC Academy players to appear in a MLS Reserve League game for Sounders FC. Kovar played the final nine minutes and Okoli played the final 12 minutes in a 2-1 win over the Portland Timbers on May 30, 2011.
Transaction: Seattle Sounders FC (MLS) – Signed MID Aaron Kovar and FWD Sean Okoli
SoundersFC.com full story - http://www.soundersfc.com/news/articles/2014/01-january/sounders-add-two-hgps.aspx
Press Release from April 9, 2013 on Aaron Kovar -To learn more about Aaron Kovar, CLICK HERE for his in-depth story from youth to Sounders U-23 in 2013.