Sean Okoli earned just 19 minutes of play in the regular season. He was a regular in the Reserves and spent a loan stint down with the Orange County Blues. Sounder at Heart chatted with him early last week.
SaH: What have you learned this year?
Okoli: There's some stuff I've learned about my game. A big part of that is being consistent - not having the up and downs throughout the year. I feel like I'm learning things as the year goes on and just making sure that I'm ready for the beginning of next season or the end of this season, because we have some games left still.
SaH: The other aspect is learning as a person. That's a big transition going from college student to life as a professional.
Okoli: It's definitely humbling. I'm not used to being in the position I am now. I have to learn how to deal with it. Just make it turn into positive energy going forward. Ups and downs, but overall I think it is a pretty good year for me.
SaH: Those time that your name has been called and you step out in front of the 40,000 or so what's that like compared to playing in front of high school, the Academy and Wake, but what's different in front of your hometown?
Okoli: There's a lot more people that's for sure. I feel like it's a little more special for me because I grew up in this town, so being able to represent the city in MLS is something that's very special for me. I remember my times in the past, but being out here is just another level.
SaH: With kids like Vic signing, and probably going to be more, you're now a veteran. What do you tell him about the experience?
Okoli: You got to let them know that there's going to be ups and downs. It's a long season, something you aren't used to, so you always have to keep your head up. You always got to stay positive in your head and make sure that you take the opportunity when you get it.
SaH: You trained with him a bit at the U23 camp, Jordy's back with the full National Team. What's it like seeing a teammate and someone with a past as a Sounder getting that call?
Okoli: I'm very happy for him. He's a good player and a good person. It's good that he got the call. It's another good opportunity for him to show what he can do.
SaH: What about yourself with that U23s and the Olympics? What do you need to do to be on that radar?
Okoli: I just got to keep developing, keep getting better, to work hard everyday. If I get another opportunity I need to make sure that I show 100% and make sure that I'm ready -- I know I'm going to be ready. I just got to keep at it. It's a long ways from now, but I got to keep going, keep working, trust myself and my preparation and be ready if my name's called.
[Okoli's eyes kind of light up talking about the U23s and Olympics]
SaH: Would it be different being in that environment than the Youth National Teams?
Okoli: The Olympics?
Okoli: Yeah, I think that would be a big career changing move for me, if I would go. Not only would it be for me, but I'd get to experience and see the players that are my age around the world to compare to. It would be another tool in my development.