CINCINNATI -- FC Cincinnati forward and league MVP Sean Okoli will not be returning in 2017, he announced Saturday.
Speculation has been that the 23-year-old Okoli, a former Major League Soccer player who came up through the Seattle Sounders' system, would move on if the opportunity arose.
He confirmed the move on Instagram.
"I had to make a tough decision of not coming back for the 2017 season, but I know this is a step I have to take to reach my personal goals," he wrote.
Okoli collected the United Soccer League "Golden Boot" award with 16 goals this season. He said his time in Cincinnati left him with "nothing but good memories."
"It's a place I really got to grow as a player and person while meeting great people along the way," he wrote. "I always felt the support from the club, the city, and the fans so I want to say thank u (sic)."
Man.. idk where to start. This last year with Cincinnati left me with nothing but good memories. It's a place i really got to grow as a player and person while meeting great people along the way. I always felt the support from the club, the city, and the fans so i want to say thank u. I had to make a tough decision of not coming back for the 2017 season but i know this is a step i have to take to reach my personal goals. So i want to thank FC Cincinnati, the city, the fans, and my teammates for everything. I'll always have the orange and blue in me!
Okoli's announcement comes just days after FC Cincinnati hosted MLS Commissioner Don Garber, who was in town Tuesday to check out the city as a possible expansion market.
The club previously confirmed at least 16 of its 26 players would be returning in 2017, including USL Goalkeeper of the Year Mitch Hildebrandt, defenders Austin Berry, Harrison Delbridge, Derek Luke, Pat McMahon and Tyler Polak, midfielders Corben Bone, Jimmy McLaughlin, Omar Mohamed, Francisco Narbon, Paul Nicholson and Kenney Walker, and forwards Omar Cummings, Antoine Hoppenot, Casey Townsend and Andrew Wiedeman.
Laurel Pfahler contributed to this report.