Rhinos Close to a Deal with Karo Okiomah?

Today, July 20th, is the roster freeze date for teams in USL-Pro.  That means that any transfers USL teams want to make have to be finalized by the close of business hours today.  According to Jeff DiVeronica, the Rochester Rhinos are close to a deal with Karo Okiomah.

Okiomah, 6’2″ and 185 pounds, is a big center forward from Austin, Texas.  Okiomah was drafted by Houston and then trained with Chivas USA before the MLS preseason ended.  He has also played for Carolina Dynamo of the Premier Development League during the summers of 2011 and 2012.

On Tuesday January 17th, Okiomah was selected as the 12th overall pick in the MLS Supplemental Draft by Houston Dynamo.  The forward joined the Texas-based club for training on January 22.  Okiomah performed well in an intra-squad scrimmage on the 28th, playing 45 minutes and creating a few chances.  However, by February 17 he had failed to adequately impress the coaches in Houston and was cut by the team.

Chivas USA liked what they had seen during the MLS Combine and took advantage of Houston’s decision to bring Okiomah into training camp.  “He’s kind of a big, strong forward who’s flown under the radar a bit,” Chivas head coach Robin Fraser said of Okiomah. “He tested athletically really, really well at the Combine.”  Unfortunately for Okiomah, he sustained an ankle injury on Monday February 20th and when he didn’t recover immediately, Fraser was left with little choice but to dismiss the forward prospect.

Okiomah, a forward out of High Point University, is a three-time NSCAA All-Region selection and a two-time All-Big South honoree.  According to the Big South Conference site, “Okiomah finished his HPU career second in the High Point Div. I career record books with 68 points on 29 goals and 10 assists. He is second in team history in goals scored and his 0.43 goals per game is an HPU Div. I record. As a junior, Okiomah was among the national leaders in goals per game at 0.75 after scoring 12 goals in 16 games. Okiomah was named a third-team All-American by the NSCAA and the Big South Player of the Year.”

I found Okiomah’s collegiate career profile on the High Point University website.

In 2008, Karo Okiomah started 11 of the 16 games he played in and finished second on the team with five goals and 11 points to earn the Big South All-Freshman team honors.

Okiomah was named to the third-team All-South Atlantic Region by starting 14 of 16 games and finishing second on the team with five goals and four assists and tied for the team lead with 14 total points in 2009.

As a junior, Okiomah was named Big South Player of the Year, first-team All-Big South, the Big South All-Tournament Team, Big South Player of the Week on October 5, the Top Drawer Soccer and College Soccer News National Teams of the Week on October 4.  He started 14 of the 16 games in which he played and finished tied for the Big South scoring lead with 12 goals and second in Big South with 26 points.

In his senior year, 2011, Okiomah started 19 of 20 games and finished second on his team with 7 goals and 17 points.  He was named second-team All-Big South, named to the Big South All-Tournament Team.

Okiomah would be another body up top for the Rhinos as first year head coach Jesse Myers gets his team ready for a play off run.  The team has 5 straight home games before the start of the 2012 postseason and Myers thinks the Austin striker could be the player to turn Rochester into a title contender.  After suffering a 4-0 massacre at the hands of Orlando in southern Florida, it is obvious that the team needs something more. Chances are in order to win a championship this year, the Rhinos will have to figure out how to dismantle a very strong Orlando City side and the coaching staff hope Karo Okiomah can be the man to do it.

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