Photo: Paul Rudderow
UPDATE: On Monday, the Union officially announced Okugo had been traded to Orlando City in exchange for allocation money and a second round pick in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft.
Philly Soccer Page has learned that Amobi Okugo will reject Philadelphia Union’s bona fide contract offer and sign a deal with expansion club Orlando City SC.
A source close to the situation says a deal will be signed as early as Monday in Orlando. Philly Soccer Page understands that Orlando City will send Philadelphia allocation money and a SuperDraft pick in exchange for Okugo’s rights.
The last player with the team since the start of the inaugural 2010 season, Okugo was given the opportunity to play in his preferred midfield spot in 2014 under Jim Curtin. However, his omission from the starting XI in the US Open Cup Final led to speculation about his long-term status with the club.
While he soon returned to the starting XI after the Open Cup Final, by the end of the season, Okugo no longer seemed to be a part of the Union’s long-term plans. With the end of his contract with the Union growing near, Union manager Jim Curtin said the team would make a bona fide offer to retain his rights. Curtin discussed the offer on the Nov. 12 episode of the KYW Philly Soccer Show but said that he expected Okugo to try his fortunes in Europe, repeating the same in an article published by MLSsoccer.com on Nov. 18.
After a slow start to his professional career under Peter Nowak, Okugo became a defensive stalwart under John Hackworth in 2012 and 2013. With 117 appearances (101 starts) under his belt, Okugo heads off to begin a new journey with another expansion club. According to a source close to the situation, Orlando City has been scouting Okugo for some time and believes “he is one of the best holding midfielders in the league and they want him to hold for Kaka and think it can be a tremendous partnership.”
Efforts to contact the Union for comment late on Sunday were unsuccessful.