RSL rookie Okwuonu added to U.S. U-23 camp in Europe

March 24th, 2015 | by Sean Walker

Boyd Okwuonu played his first professional soccer match on Sunday, starting and playing the full 90 minutes for Real Monarchs SLC in a 0-0 road draw against L.A. Galaxy II.

Two days later, he’s back in the picture for the U.S. national team.

U.S. coach Andi Herzog added Okwuonu to his U-23 national team camp that is working in Sarajevo ahead of a pair of friendlies against Bosnia & Herzegovina and Denmark, which will serve as preparation for 2016 Olympic qualifying later this year.

Herzog also added former Maryland midfielder Dan Metzger to the camp’s roster. Metzger was drafted by D.C. United in January, but was listed as unattached on U.S. Soccer’s official camp roster for the U-23 squad.

Okwuonu joins RSL teammate Luis Gil at camp, departing Salt Lake City on Tuesday and traveling to Europe, where he will be available for the squad’s first friendly Friday against Bosnia. The U-23s are scheduled to meet Denmark on March 31.

“I’m excited first of all. It’s always a blessing to represent your country,” Okwuonu said in a statement from RSL. “It’s a good opportunity for me and I’m glad to go with the U-23s. I’m very happy and thankful for it.”

RSL selected Okwuonu in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft in January, and he officially went on loan to the Monarchs just days before the season opener Sunday. The 22-year-old graduate of the University of North Carolina also spent time in the youth national system, including at the 2011 Milk Cup in Northern Ireland with the U-18 squad.

The 2013 ACC Defender of the Year spent two years at the U.S. Soccer Residency Program in Bradenton, Florida, as a teenager from Edmond, Oklahoma.

Gil and Okwuonu will miss Sunday’s home match against Toronto FC, but will return along with goalkeeper Nick Rimando, forward Alvaro Saborio and defender Elias Vasquez in time for RSL’s road match at San Jose on April 5.

The absence of Okwuonu leaves RSL with six available defenders for this weekend’s match, while the Monarchs’ current selection of defenders is whittled down to five for Sunday’s match at Portland Timbers 2.

Sean Walker

Sean Walker

Salt City FC editor-in-chief Sean Walker has been covering soccer at all levels since 2007. He began his career in Las Vegas, and has since written for publications from the Intermountain West to Central New York, where he attended graduate school in 2012. Currently, Sean covers Real Salt Lake and Major League Soccer for A struggling Evertonian by birth, Sean follows European soccer through the blue lens of the Toffees, and has strong feelings toward the UEFA Europa League.

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