NYCFC has announced the signing of USL’s reigning MVP, FC Cincinnati’s Sean Okoli. The 23 year old Seattle Sounders product had a remarkable season under coach, John Harkes, who will definitely miss the prolific Okoli next year.
So who is Sean Okoli and what can we expect from him? Sean was a youth product of Seattle Sounders FC Academy until he was recruited to play for the Demon Deacons of Wake Forest. While attending university, Sean was selected multiple times to the All-ACC team, with his collegiate career culminating 24 goals and 9 assists.
Eventually, Sean would go on to sign a professional contract with Seattle and even make a few appearances for them. His professional debut came on March 8th, 2014 where he came on in the 87th minute to help Seattle score the only goal of the match, winning 1-0. Unfortunately for Okoli, Seattle didn’t have a shortage of talent at the forward position with Chad Barret, Lamar Neagle, and the world class Clint Dempsey. Seattle decided it best to trade the rights to Sean Okoli to New England in order to move up in the MLS SuperDraft.
Sean once again ran into a long line of forwarding talent at the Revolution. He was fighting for minutes on the pitch behind Charlie Davies, Lee Nguyen, and Juan Agudelo in a 4-2-3-1 that rarely called for his talents. After a year of of few opportunities, New England thought it best for both parties to release Sean. It turned out to be the best thing that’s ever happened to him.
Under the guise of John Harkes, Sean Okoli was given the freedom and space to learn to be creative in front of goal.
“One thing about John that I really like about him as a coach is that he lets me be free up front, and he gives me the confidence to try anything I can to make an impact,” Okoli said. “Knowing that I can go out there and play the way I want to play and that he is going to support me 100 percent it just helps.”
Okoli shook the back of the net for a total of 16 times which was enough to win the golden boot award in a tough USL environment. He was an integral part of a team that blew away attendance records all over the United States for a soccer game. Beating out even top clubs in MLS, FC Cincinnati was turning in 15,000 - 20,000+ a match.
How will he fit in a Patrick Vieira’s NYCFC? That all depends on Okoli’s flexibility when it comes to attacking options. David Villa, even at 35, will start every game when healthy. Jack Harrison has done more than enough to solidify his place on the wing. However, a giant attacking option was left open when Steven Mendoza returned to his parent club, Corinthians.
For the first time in a long time, Sean Okoli will be given an opportunity to showcase his talents for an MLS club.