Amobi Okugo’s rookie season with the Union has been filled with positive experiences.
And he has learned valuable lessons along the way. Maybe the most important lesson is to be ready at any moment.
Okugo got the start against the Kansas City Wizards on September 4, only to see no action at all in the club's next two matches.
Despite limited minutes, the talented 19-year-old midfielder has steadily improved throughout the season for this young club.
“I’ve learned you have to prepare every day like you’re going to play,” Okugo said. “You have to be prepared. I was very excited when I was told I would be starting (against KC). You never know. If you practice hard and train hard, good things will happen. You also have to be patient. You have to stay even-tempered every day and just work as hard as you can.”
Okugo came to the Union from UCLA as the No. 6 overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft. A two-time Parade All-American in high school, Okugo was named the Pac-10 Freshman of the Year and then played with the U-20 Men’s National Team at the 2009 CONCACAF Championships.
He has shown a wide variety of skills when given the opportunity to play, including the type of tackling ability that is necessary for an effective holding midfielder.
“Amobi has done a solid job for us,” said Union defender Danny Califf. “He’s a hard worker and fits in perfectly with the guys in this locker room. He’s very workmanlike with everything he does. I think he has a very bright future in MLS.”
Okugo joined the Union as part of a dynamic draft class with three first rounders, along with No. 1 pick Danny Mwanga and No. 7 selection Jack McInerney.
The three have formed quite a strong core.
“I was very happy to be taken by Philadelphia,” Okugo said. “I knew it would be a challenge to come in with other talented players. I feel like it was a good situation for me because of the staff that is here. When they have called on me to play, I feel like I’ve done well. I’m excited about the future with this club and playing with guys like Danny and Jack.”
As the regular season winds down, Okugo isn’t sure how much time he’ll spend on the field.
Regardless, he plans to maximize his opportunities.
“I will be ready any time they need me,” Okugo said. “I want to play. All players do. I’m a team guy. Whatever they need from me, I’ll give them. I am excited for this stretch run this season.”