Seattle Sounders sign more homegrown talent

don.ruiz@thenewstribune.comJanuary 10, 2014 

Seattle Sounders FC on Thursday announced the signings of the second and third homegrown players in club history: forward Sean Okoli of Federal Way and midfielder Aaron Kovar of Seattle.

“Being able to add two young and talented players is a good thing,” coach Sigi Schmid said through a news release. “It’s also very important that (Sounders) Academy kids can see a pathway onto the first team.”

Major League Soccer’s homegrown player rule allows clubs to sign a player to his first professional contract without going through the SuperDraft if that player has trained at least one year in the club’s youth-development program and met other criteria. Defender DeAndre Yedlin last season became Seattle’s first such signing.

Okoli, 20, graduated from Todd Beamer High School, and after playing for the Sounders FC Academy, he joined Pierce County-based Sounders U-23s for two seasons. He also earned all-Atlantic Coast Conference honors at Wake Forest.

“I can’t wait to play at CenturyLink (Field) in front of all of the fans,” he said in the release. “I am excited to help the team win games, score goals and really get my career started.”

Kovar, 20, was the Gatorade Washington State Player of the Year in 2011 and was named 2012 Pac-12 Conference freshman of the year at Stanford. He graduated from Garfield High School and played for the Sounders FC Academy from 2010-2012 and Sounders U-23s in 2013. Kovar also played for the U-18 U.S. National Team in 2011.

In 2011, Kovar and Okoli became the first academy players to appear in a Sounders FC MLS Reserve League game, each appearing in a 2-1 win over Portland.

Also on Thursday, the Sounders announced the signing of forward Chad Barrett, 28, whom they had selected from New England in Stage 2 of the re-entry draft Dec. 18. Barrett is a nine-year MLS veteran who scored two goals with two assists in 19 appearances with the Revolution last season.

Don Ruiz: 253-597-8808 don.ruiz@thenewstribune.com blog.thenewstribune.com/soccer @donruiztnt

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