24 Under 24: #8 Amobi Okugo, Philadelphia Union

8. Amobi Okugo

Pos: D/M | Philadelphia Union | Age: 22

Technical and versatile, Okugo continues to turn heads in MLS with his play at center back for the Philadelphia Union. The 22-year-old reads the game particularly well and has the toughness and athleticism to match up against any of the top strikers in the league. He is also Mr. Reliable, having started 51 of the 54 matches he has played in during the last two seasons. Okugo’s impressive play has some calling for him to receive his first US national team call-up, and it might not be too far off if he continues to perform at this level.

What TDs and coaches like: "I've always liked him coming out of the youth national team programs. He can play two spots, defensive midfielder and he's fit in nicely in Philly as a center back. I think he's a good leader, tactically he sees the game pretty well with positional play. ... He’s very good against physical and quick players. ... He’s got good bite as a central midfielder. I know that it has translated over to him playing in central defense. I think he reads the game well, and I think he would be equally successful playing as a holding midfielder given time there. ... He’s a competitor. From afar, he seems like a player who plays to win as opposed to just playing the game. ... His success on set pieces is an attitude. It’s nothing more than that. When you look at set pieces – particularly for a guy his size, which is not particularly imposing – he’s found a way to get to the ball and capitalize.”

Where TDs and coaches want improvement: "Most of the time your center backs are a bit bigger and to succeed in the next level, if we’re talking about the international game, by and large he’s a player for the midfield. The only limiting factor for him is whether he can progress and develop technically with the ball more than has up until now. ... He’s not that comfortable with the ball at his feet. He has to improve tactically. ... He struggles against more intelligent players with clever movements. ... As a center back, he's a little undersized. So the air duels tend to be a challenge for him, but I think he can overcome that with his positional play like Michael Parkhurst."

Opta Says: Amobi Okugo is the only player eligible for 24 Under 24 averaging at least a block per game during the 2013 season (1.0).
 

Tale of the Tape
Last Year in 24U24: N/A
Castrol Index (as of 9/19/13): #49

2013 Stats
Matches played: 27
Matches started: 27
Goals: 3
Assists: 3

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