If you are following the Open Cup, you may notice a team called Union Omaha in the quarter finals bracket. You may ask yourself; Who is Union Omaha? What division are they? How did they get themselves here?
Union Omaha were founded in 2019. They are based in Papillion, a small town in the city in Omaha, Nebraska. Their home field is based at Werner Park, a baseball stadium shared with Triple A Omaha. They became part of USL One in 2020, the second division of the United Soccer League and the third tier of men professional soccer in the U.S.
USL One was formed in 2019. Its idea was to expand professional soccer in the U.S in cities without a professional soccer team. There is currently 11 teams in the league, with three other teams potentially joining in 2023. North Texas S.C had the honor to win the first USL One title back in 2019.
In its short history, Union Omaha have had success in the USL One. In its first season, they came in second and were part of the championship game against Greenville Triumph S.C, but the game was cancelled due to COVID-19. They came back next season and took the USL One title.
Head coach for Omaha is Tennessee native Jay Mims. He has been with the team since 2019. Mims has soccer experience as a player as he played four years of Division I soccer for the St. Louis Bilikens. Mims only had one year of experience in professional soccer with the Cincinnati Riverhawks.
From there, he decided to coach and spent 10 years with the Creighton Bluejays as an assistant coach. He also has experience in the MLS as academy director for Real Salt Lake from 2018-2019.
There are 10 international players on the Omaha roster this season. Starting goalie Rashid Nuhu from Ghana managed 3 clean sheets so far in the season. Japan international Hugo Kametani leads the team with two goals, along with John Scarce from Arizona.
Omaha has had a slow start to the season. They have one loss and four draws with 2 games in hand. The team currently sit 11th in the table.
They participated in the Open Cup, where they defeated last place Chicago Fire in the Third Round. The game was sent to overtime where Chicago’s Rafael Czichos looked like he sealed the game for them with a penalty in the 115 minute. This wasn’t until Omaha’s defender Alex Touche from England scored in the 122nd minute to send the game to penalties where Omaha came out with the victory.
With this win, it makes Union Omaha the first team in USL1 history to defeat an MLS team in the Open Cup. There next opponent was Minnesota F.C at Allianz Field in the Round of 16. Minnesota got on the board quick with a goal in the 6th minute by Adrien Hunou. Omaha tied the game just before the half. Omaha shocked Minnesota with an amazing volley by Joseph Brito to knock Minnesota out of the Open Cup.
There are the first division three team since Orlando City in 2013 to make it to the Open Cup quarterfinals. They will face Sporting Kansas City next on June 22nd.