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.
“Being able to add two young and talented players is a good thing,” coach Sigi Schmid said in a press release. “It’s also very important that (Sounders FC) Academy kids can see a pathway onto the first team.”
Okoli, 20, graduated from Todd Beamer High School, and after playing for the Sounders FC Academy he joined the Pierce County-based Sounders U-23s for two seasons. He also earned All-ACC honors at Wake Forest.
“I can’t wait to play at CenturyLink 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 High School Player of the Year in 2011 and was named the 2012 Pac-12 Conference freshman of the year at Stanford. He graduated from Garfield High School, played for the Sounders FC Academy from 2010-2012 and the Sounders U-23s in 2013. He also was called into the U-18 U.S. National Team in 2011.
Also 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 victory over Portland.
Also on Thursday, the Sounders announced the signing of forward Chad Barrett, 28. They selected Barrett from New England in Stage Two of the Re-Entry Process on Dec. 18, 2013. He is a nine-year MLS veteran who scored two goals and had two assists in 19 appearances with the Revolution last season.
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