Sounders FC announced Thursday that it has signed local products Sean Okoli and Aaron Kovar to homegrown player contracts. They join DeAndre Yedlin as the franchise’s only signings who came up through the youth development system.
Terms of the deals weren’t disclosed, per MLS and team policy, but as a point of reference, Yedlin made $53,500 last season.
Okoli, a 20-year-old Federal Way native, is a forward who scored 24 goals and added nine assists in three season at Wake Forest. He has several earned All-ACC honors (first team in 2013, second team in 2012, freshman team in 2011) and is a former standout at Beamer High School.
Kovar, a 20-year-old Seattle native, is a midfielder who played the past two seasons at Stanford, winning Pac-12 Freshman of the Year in 2012. He also starred at Garfield High School, where he was named the Gatorade State Player of the Year in 2011.
Both also played for the Sounders FC U-23s in the Premier Development League and have U.S. youth national team experience. They have also played for the Sounders FC reserves and trained with the first team several times.
There are now five local guys on the first-team roster with Marcus Hahnemann, Yedlin and Kovar from Seattle, and Lamar Neagle and Okoli from Federal Way.
Some press release quotes are posted after the jump:
“It’s exciting to have two more Academy kids join our team. Being able to add two young and talented players is a good thing. It’s also very important that Academy kids can see a pathway onto the first team.” — Sigi Schmid, Sounders FC head coach
“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time. 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.” — Okoli
“I feel honored to be part of this club. I’ve been a fan since I was 10 years old going to USL games with my dad. It’s obviously a difficult decision, but this has been my dream for as long as I can remember and I’ve worked really hard to get here. I’m excited to be part of my hometown club, to meet all my teammates and get ready for the preseason.” — Kovar
“It is a proud moment when players that have significant history in the Sounders programming sign with the first team. 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.” — Darren Sawatzky, Sounders U-23 coach and Sounders FC director of youth development.
What do you make of the moves?