The MLS Homegrown Game was presented to showcase players who have graduated into MLS through the clubs’ developmental systems.
“We had a decent performance – that was our first time together as a team,” Okoli said. “It was fun getting out there and playing. It was a great experience for me.”
In his first professional season, Okoli has played just 18 minutes over two MLS games. He also has played in five Reserve League games, and went the full 90 minutes in the U.S. Open Cup win over PSA Elite.
Okoli is one of three homegrown players on the Sounders FC roster, along with rookie midfielder Aaron Kovar and second-year right back DeAndre Yedlin.
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Yedlin may be MLS’ top homegrown success story, jumping from the Sounders FC Academy, Sounders U-23 and the University of Akron to the Sounders FC’s starting lineup and a place on the United States’ World Cup team.
He also was named to this MLS Homegrown team, but was removed when fans voted him onto the All-Star roster. That move reunites him with Porter, his coach at Akron.
“The first thing I saw in DeAndre is his pace,” Porter said. “He’s an elite, world-class athlete. He’s extremely quick and has the ability from that position to get forward in the attack, which in the modern game is something you look for in that position.”
Yedlin had his own praise for Okoli and Kovar, homegrown Sounders who have followed him into MLS and he believes could one day follow him into an MLS All-Star Game.
“Definitely, definitely,” Yedlin said. “It’s just working hard. I know they both do that very well. They’re moving up the depth chart. They’re doing great in practice every week. It won’t be long before we see them in one of these games.”