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SOCCER: Beamer grad Sean Okoli gets call from U.S. under-21 National Team
Sean Okoli has his focus set on Brazil, but it isn’t the 2014 FIFA World Cup that the Sounders FC rookie is thinking about. Rio De Janeiro is also the host city for the 2016 Olympic Summer Games and with a call in to U.S. under-21 training camp this week in Carson, Calif., Okoli is on track to make a run at wearing the U.S. National Team jersey.
A 21-year-old forward/midfielder from Federal Way, Okoli has been active with the U.S. Youth National Teams since his days with the U.S. U-18 squad while playing with the Sounders FC Academy and at nearby Todd Beamer High School. Now with the call from Tab Ramos to play for the U-21s, he is back in the fold and looking to make an impact in the Stars and Stripes.
“It’s something I’m thinking about. It’s my age group that goes and I really want to be a part of that group. But it’s two years away. I have to take it a lot slower than that,” said Okoli, who graduated from Todd Beamer High School. “I’ll just make sure I’m ready, hopefully I keep getting called into these camps and we’ll go from there.”
The U.S. U-21 camp started on Sunday and ran thorough Wednesday with a friendly against Club Tijuana. Okoli was joined in camp by Sounders FC Academy product and current Stanford University forward Jordan Morris, a Mercer Island native. Of the 21 players initially called in by Ramos, 13 of them are current MLS players.
That experience with some of the other top players in his age group is a great opportunity for Okoli.
“I know it will help me individually. I’m excited to get in, get some work in and then take it from there,” Okoli said.
After graduating from Beamer in 2011, Okoli spent three seasons playing at Wake Forest University in North Carolina. During his career with the Demon Deacons, Okoli scored 24 goals and had nine assists in 61 appearances. He earned First Team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors in 2013, registering a team-high nine goals with three assists.
In 2012, Okoli led the team with a career high 11 goals, and was named Second Team All-ACC and earned NSCAA Player of the Week honors in October. In his first collegiate season, he finished third on the team with 11 points (four goals and three assists) and was named to the All-ACC Freshman Team in 2011.
However, with a deep core of forwards that includes Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins, Kenny Cooper, Lamar Neagle, Chad Barrett and Cam Weaver, minutes with the Sounders FC first team have been hard to come by. Even still, Okoli has 18 minutes in two appearances with the Sounders just seven matches into his first professional season. He has been inactive just twice in those seven matches, earning a spot on the bench in the other five for Seattle while also playing an active role in Seattle’s five reserve matches thus far.
“I’m in and out right now, but I feel like I’ve been training well,” Okoli said. “I’m just waiting for my next opportunity whenever it comes.”
Okoli returned to Seattle Wednesday in advance of Saturday’s match against the Colorado Rapids.