Sounders FC’s hometown presence grew Thursday as two college standouts, midfielder Aaron Kovar and forward Sean Okoli, were signed as homegrown players.
The locals came up through the team’s youth development program and join DeAndre Yedlin as academy alumni on the team’s MLS roster. Terms of Thursday’s deals weren’t disclosed, per league and team policy, but, as a point of reference, Yedlin made $53,500 in 2013.
Coach Sigi Schmid said in a news release that it is “very important that academy kids can see a pathway onto the first team.”
Kovar, a 20-year-old Seattle native, played two seasons at Stanford, winning Pac-12 freshman of the year in 2012. He also starred at Garfield High School, where he was named the Gatorade Player of the Year for Washington in 2011.
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Kovar said in the release he’s been a Sounders fan since he was 10 years old and that it was a difficult decision to leave college, “but this has been my dream for as long as I can remember, and I’ve worked really hard to get here.”
Okoli, a 20-year-old Federal Way native who attended Beamer High School, scored 24 goals and added nine assists in three seasons at Wake Forest. He earned All-ACC honors each year in college.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time,” Okoli said in the release. “I can’t wait to play at CenturyLink in front of all of the fans. I am excited to help the team win games, score goals and really get my career started.”
Five Sounders grew up locally: goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann, Yedlin and Kovar in Seattle, and forward Lamar Neagle and Okoli in Federal Way.
Forward Chad Barrett signed with the Sounders on Thursday, a move he had revealed a day earlier on Twitter. The 28-year-old’s rights were acquired in the MLS Re-Entry Draft last month.
Terms weren’t disclosed, but his salary is expected to be less than the $110,709 he made with New England in 2013.
• Reign FC will hold the No. 7, 17 and 30 overall picks in the NWSL’s Jan. 17 college draft.
Joshua Mayers: 206-464-3184 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @joshuamayers