Carmichael Native Okugo Playing in MLS

From Jesuit and Rio Americano to Philadelphia.

Amobi Okugo was on such a fast track playing soccer that he only spent about half of his high school career playing for Carmichael-area schools.

Okugo, 20, played at in his freshman year under legendary coach and then was a member of the U.S. Soccer Residency Program in Florida from 2006 through 2007. He finished his high school career at .

Last year, Okugo was drafted by the Philadelphia Union after a season at UCLA as the sixth overall pick in the MLS SuperDraft. He is now a midfielder with the Union and has been called a potential future member of the senior U.S. Men's National Team.

"My time in Carmichael was good; I developed some good friendships," Okugo said in a phone interview from Philadelphia with Carmichael Patch. "Jesuit and Rio helped me continue to do well in school."

Okugo was with the Union this past weekend at Santa Clara University as they faced the San Jose Earthquakes. Although he did not get in the game, more than 30 family members and friends were there to see him.

Okugo said his parents, Chris and Chinyere, live in Carmichael and he has two younger brothers, Akachi, who is a star guard on , and Amadi and a younger sister, Ugonne.

"I follow (Akachi) and try to follow his games when I'm in town," Okugo said. "He came to Philly recently for the UPenn Camp; we have a close relationship."

A two-time Parade All-American in high school, Okugo earned Pac-10 Freshman of the Year honors in 2009 as a freshman at UCLA. He played with the Under-20 Men's National Team at the 2009 CONCACAF U-20 Championships and with the U-18 team at the 2009 Australian Youth Festival, scoring two goals in three games. 

Now, Okugo goes back and forth between the Union and the men's national team. He started six consecutive game for Philadelphia earlier this season but is coming back from a sprained ankle.

"It's good to be come and be part of a great team," Okugo said. "With the Union, I hope we win the MLS Cup (league championship) and I hope to be a permanent starter."

Okugo said he's loving The City of Brotherly Love.

"I like the city a lot; there's a lot of history," he said. "I live downtown so I'm able to go out and enjoy the town...I have had a cheesesteak."

Okugo knows where he wants to be in the coming years.

"With the national team, the next step is the Olympics (in 2012 in London)," he said. "After that, everyone aspires to play in Europe."

Okugo will get a taste of European club soccer when his Union face English squad Everton and Spanish powerhouse Real Madrid later this month in Philadelphia, the second game being played at Lincoln Financial Field, home of the NFL's Eagles.

"it'll be really fun, great atmosphere and experience," he said.

Okugo said he's been following the US Women's National Team in the Women's World Cup being played in Germany. Coming off of a comeback win against Brazil this past weekend, the US women beat France earlier today in a semifinal match to make the final on Sunday aginst either Japan or Sweden.

"I've watched a couple of games," Okugo said. "That game against Brazil was great."


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