New England Soccer Today

Okoli Seeking Fresh Start in NE

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

Photo credit: Chris Aduama/

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Less than a year after signing a Homegrown Deal with the Seattle Sounders, forward Sean Okoli was confronted with the first difficult decision of his pro career.

Although he saw action in U.S. Open Cup and the Reserve League last year, he only gathered 19 minutes in MLS in 2014. Following the season, his option was declined, and with more time with the first team unlikely, he quietly hoped to find an opportunity elsewhere.

“They wanted me to stay there and play and get some minutes with S2 (USL-PRO),” Okoli said. “But once New England came around, and showed that they were interested, I did everything I could, in the most respectful way, to see if I could make the move out here.”

That move, though, wouldn’t be as clear cut as he expected, though. Even though the Sounders declined his option, they still owned his MLS rights. Thus, a deal would have to be worked out in which he would be dealt to a different organization.

While the Revolution had asked about Okoli prior to the SuperDraft, a deal for the former Wake Forest product was anything but a certainty. The Sounders had eyes on goalkeeper Tyler Miller, and kept its eye on the draft board going into the second round.

After discussing the parameters of a possible deal, the Sounders and Revolution struck a deal: the 33rd overall pick was sent to Seattle – who used it to select Miller – for future considerations. Those considerations were Okoli’s rights, pending league approval.

“I just got a call from my agent, and then I had to wait on some things,” Okoli said. “But once it got finalized, I got (another) call from my agent, and the Sounders called me not too long after and explained it.”

Days after the Revolution acquired Okoli’s rights, they inked him to a new deal. The new opportunity he hoped for was finally his.

Donning the same number 7 that another promising forward sported last season – Patrick Mullins – Okoli is hoping to give the Revolution more than just depth at an area of need.

“I like to play up front, and I like to hold the ball up, and get in behind,” Okoli said. “So I think if you are defending, or if the game needs me to, I think I can do that for these guys and try to help them out and score goals.”

While the former Sounders Academy striker native admits that he’s got a lot of new names to learn as preseason camp gets underway, one player he’s pretty familiar with is a fellow Federal Way (Wash.) native: Kelyn Rowe.

“I talked to him a little bit just about the city, and the club,” Okoli said. “He thinks it’s a good fit for me, and he’s excited to start working with me.”

Time will tell whether Okoli fits into the Revolution’s scheme. For now, though, the former Sounder is grateful that he’ll at least get a fair shot in New England.

“I’m glad the trade went through,” Okoli said. “I just think this is a better place for me when it comes to opportunities. (It’s) just a fresh start coming off of last year, so I’m excited to get started.”

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