In an Instagram post this afternoon, the 2016 USL MVP and Golden Boot Award winner, Sean “Ugo” Okoli confirmed his departure from FC Cincinnati for the upcoming 2017 season. The 23-year old forward was a force to be dealt with for this FC Cincinnati attack. He led the USL with 16 goals this season. Though it wasn’t just goals for Okoli where his impact was felt. His holdup play as the target 9 for this team was huge for this club. He’ll also go down in club history as the first goal scorer at Nippert Stadium with his spectacular scissor-kick volley against Charlotte.
Man.. idk where to start. This last year with Cincinnati left me with nothing but good memories. It’s a place i really got to grow as a player and person while meeting great people along the way. I always felt the support from the club, the city, and the fans so i want to say thank u. I had to make a tough decision of not coming back for the 2017 season but i know this is a step i have to take to reach my personal goals. So i want to thank FC Cincinnati, the city, the fans, and my teammates for everything. I’ll always have the orange and blue in me! 🔷🔶🙏🏾
So What’s Next?
What we don’t know, is where is Okoli headed? It’s not likely he’d leave for another USL club, obviously. He could potentially end up in the NASL somewhere. It’s my guess that an MLS team, particularly an expansion team like Atlanta United or Minnesota United FC, might be looking for some goals. Why not take a flyer on the USL’s leading goal scorer? Plus, Okoli’s a former homegrown player for the Seattle Sounders and spent time with the New England Revolution. He’s has MLS experience which will help.
UPDATE: Okoli signs a contract with NYCFC of MLS.
— New York City FC (@NYCFC) December 5, 2016
Okoli told NYCFC.com: “The beautiful game can take you to some great places and I feel so blessed to be here. I know the team plays attacking football and I love that, so I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”
“It means a lot to play under Patrick Vieira – he’s been everywhere I want to be as a player and I know he has a lot of offer, so I’m excited to get working with as I just want to continue to grow.”
So now where does FC Cincinnati go from here? The forwards currently signed are Andrew Wiedeman, Antoine Hoppenot, Casey Townsend who was acquired via transfer late in the 2016 season from Wilmington, and Omar Cummings who had a significant knee injury late in the season as well. There will be some big question marks about his availability to start the 2017 season. Wiedeman and Hoppenot found themselves playing on the wings a bit more than true number 9’s. Townsend can play the 9, but can his physicality match that of Okoli’s? That remains to be seen.
What it means though is now FC Cincinnati is in the market for a striker or two this offseason. With the resources the club has in manager John Harkes who can recruit just about anyone he wants on top of the tremendous revenue from ticket sales in 2016, they should be able to sign a solid replacement, and dare I say, an upgrade for Okoli. Bryan Weigel previewed some potential forward targets on his big board last month.
There’s no question though that Sean Okoli will certainly be missed and all of us at Cincinnati Soccer Talk wish him the best of luck moving forward. The supporters and this city will never forget his impact on making 2016 an amazing year of soccer in the Queen City.
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