A couple of days ago the Timbers waived forward Michael Seaton and we were left to speculate what was going to be made of the open roster spot. We seem to have an answer for that speculation, and it's the defensive midfielder free agent Amobi Okugo. This has been first reported by Sacramento Republic beat writer Evan Ream:
Can confirm that Amobi is signing with the Timbers https://t.co/ccEySrKVmh— Evan Ream (@EvanReam) May 16, 2016
An American player born to Nigerian parents, Okugo came through the US Youth Academy system and played one year at UCLA before being drafted in the first round (6th overall) by the Philadelphia Union in the 2010 Superdraft. From 2010-2013 he was a mainstay on the Union backline averaging just under thirty appearances a season. In 2014, he was moved to a more natural position of defensive midfield, and started in 31 games with 2 goals and 2 assists. At the end of that 2014 season, he was named the No. 13 overall player under the age of 24 by the MLS site.
After his stint with the Union, Okugo was traded and he bounced a round a bit from Orlando City SC to Sporting KC, then all the way down to the Red Bulls II.
He's been described as a versatile player that can fill in at CB or the DM position, and has shown the ability to be a consistent contributor at the MLS level. As far as his fit on the Timbers goes, you could seem him taking Jack Jewsbury's position if Diego Chara remains out longer than expected. He's younger (only 25) and presumably in better shape that Captain Jack, so it allows Porter to play with some more speed. He could also help rotate in for Borchers as they look to manage the stress of the season on his body, or if they become disenchanted with Jermaine Taylor.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments.
EDIT (9:52am): As some commentators mentioned, Okugo is familiar to Porter from his days coaching the U-23 US team.
EDIT (10:15am): It has now been made official. Press release is below:
For immediate release: May 16, 2016
Chris Metz (503) 553-5433, email@example.com
Jhamie Chin (503) 553-5529, firstname.lastname@example.org
Katie Simons (503) 553-5539, email@example.com
Paul Dewhurst (503) 553-5512, pdewhurst@timbers.
TIMBERS SIGN DEFENDER/MIDFIELDER AMOBI OKUGO
PORTLAND, Ore. - The Portland Timbers have signed defender/midfielder Amobi Okugo, it was announced today.
Okugo, 25, has made 135 league appearances (111 starts) during a six-year career in MLS, recording five goals, seven assists and 10,075 minutes played since making his debut in 2010 with the Philadelphia Union as the sixth-overall pick in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft out of UCLA.
A native of Hayward, Calif., Okugo made 117 appearances (101 starts) with Philadelphia from 2010-2014, logging consecutive seasons with at least 30 starts in 2013 and 2014. After leading the Union in games played (32) and games started (31) during the 2014 season, Okugo joined Orlando City SC ahead of the team's expansion season in 2015, appearing in 15 games (9 starts) before being acquired by Sporting Kansas City in July 2015.
At the international level, Okugo featured at the U-23, U-20, U-18 and U-17 levels for the U.S. Youth National Team. Okugo made three appearances with the U.S. U-23 Men's National Team during CONCACAF Olympic qualifying in 2012, also earning caps with the U-20s at the 2009 CONCACAF Championships and recording consecutive starts in 2011 U-20 World Cup qualifying games against Suriname and Guatemala.
Transaction: Portland Timbers sign defender/midfielder Amobi Okugo on May 16, 2015.
Pronunciation: Ah-MOE-bee Oh-COO-go
Born: March 13, 1991, in Hayward, Calif.
Last Club: Sporting Kansas City
Citizenship: United States
Acquired: Signed May 16, 2016