In the 2015 MLS Draft, the Claret-and-Cobalt got a diamond amongst the rough. The 22 year-old with ties to the Wasatch Front joined RSL with an already strong resume. Boyd Okwuonu, a Tar Heel alum, struggled to find time in the first team behind Tony Beltran but nevertheless showed his potential.
Okwuonu made three appearances for Real Salt Lake in 2015. Despite only one start, the rookie already stood out for being a level-headed player. Committing not even one foul in the 118 minutes that he played, Okwuonu has steadily demonstrated his defensive skills. Young defenders will often get pulled out of position and then consequently draw the professional foul to recover, however, Boyd's experience supersedes this as he looks more like a veteran than a rookie on the pitch.
Like many of the freshman players, Okwuonu spent a large majority of this year with the Claret-and-Cobalt's USL affiliate, the Real Monarchs. He appeared and started in 12 matches for the Monarchs. Like in MLS, Okwuonu remained cool and collected in defense conceding only four fouls in 1003 minutes. He also became a threat moving up the wing but suffered in only managing to get two shots the entire year - and only one on target.
More impressive still is Boyd's contribution to the US U-23 squad in 2015. The young defender appeared in nine matches for the Yanks helping them to secure the third place slot in CONCACAF's Olympic qualifying and keep the country's Olympic Dream alive despite a huge upset by the U-23 Honduras side.
Boyd has most definitely found a home in the confines of the Claret-and-Cobalt. The first year defender looks years beyond his age on the pitch and has continued his development with the team. Providing depth at the back, Boyd has already made it known that he is more than capable of filling in at the full-back position for his squad and will likely be relied on more in the future.
For 2016, Okwuonu will need to continue to improve and develop. Becoming more instrumental in the attack will suit RSL's new formation. Still expect Boyd Okwuonu to continue to be an instrumental piece in the Claret-and-Cobalt's future.