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Season Review: Amobi Okugo

Editor’s note: PSP is running season reviews for each Philadelphia Union player. You can read all the reviews here.

Amobi Okugo is perhaps the most exciting young prospect on a team that is full of them. The central player was drafted as a defensive midfielder from UCLA, but has shown the ability to be a box to box type player as well. He even recently played some center back with the Generation Adidas team when they toured Spain. With the more experienced Stefani Miglioranzi getting most of the starts in 2010, Okugo found his appearances limited in his first professional season. But when given the chance, the youngster was often effective at winning possession for the Union and seemed to have the vision to start attacks with his passing range.

2010 statistics

11 games (4 starts), 437 minutes, 0 goals, 0 assists, 3 shots, 1 shot on goal, 14 fouls committed, 1 foul suffered, 0 yellow cards, 0 red cards

Okugo-Midfield Destroye

High point

A marauding substitute appearance against Real Salt Lake in August. He only came on for the last 20 minutes of the match, was a force physically and was at the heart of the push for a late winner in game that ultimately ended in a draw. That entire time period saw tremendous growth for the youngster. The game against Salt Lake came on the heels of a great game in which he started against Celtic.

Low point

Early in the season, the youngster looked completely out of sorts. His positioning was off, his touches were sloppy and his passes could hardly find their marks. But a little practice time paid off and Okugo was definitely one of the most improved players by the end of the season.

Strengths

His work rate is probably only 2nd on the team to the never tired Sebastien Le Toux. In his limited playing time in 2010, he was all over the park, running box to box, winning the ball back and finding teammates with clever passes.

Weaknesses

Age. There is no doubt that Okugo has a soccer brain that is well ahead of many of his 19 year old peers. But he’s obviously a little light on experience going into his 2nd year as a pro.

Outlook

I think most everyone on PSP will agree that Okugo is a player we are expecting big things from in 2011. Migs, Coudet and Jacobsen are still all on the roster, as is newly acquired Brian Carroll, but Okugo might be the central midfielder with the biggest upside. No one else on the team has shown both the ability to tackle and win the ball as well as distribute thoughtfully like Okugo has. The offseason has seen him playing with the US under-20s as well as touring Spain with the Generation Adidas team, two things surely to file down some of the rough edges the youngster still has. While it’s unclear who might be handed the starting role in the defensive midfield, Okugo has as good of a shot as any of the other players left fighting for the spot. I think we can expect big things in 2011.

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