West Chester United SC standout Oscar Umar recently signed with the Richmond Kickers of the USL and has immediately made an impact on the squad.
“It’s been my dream to play soccer as a professional,” Umar commented. “And the Kickers giving me that opportunity has been exciting.”
Umar did not get any time to savor the excitement however, as his signing came just a week before his first match. Not only was Umar on the team sheet for the Kickers’ July 15th match with the Harrisburg City Islanders, he was in the starting XI. Thanks to an earlier tryout with the Kickers, however, Umar felt prepared.
“It was special and the coaches already knew me and my game so that was helpful.”
When Umar was a child watching the English Premier League on TV, he would dream of sharing a pitch with a team from the Premiership. And after his signing with Richmond, his dream came true when the Kickers played Swansea City AFC in an international friendly earlier this month.
“It was the best experience ever,” Umar said. “To share the field with them, it was awesome, it was awesome.”
Umar’s signing comes with the team in the midst of a tough run of form, but the midfielder already seems to have been making an impact according to Richmond Kickers head coach Leigh Cowlishaw.
“Oscar has been a great mid-season addition to the team,” Cowlishaw said. “His athleticism and competitive attributes have brought added mobility in attack and defensive stability to our team.”
Before signing with the Kickers, Umar played in the NPSL with West Chester United SC. The opportunity helped Umar stay ready for any opportunities that came his way following a February workout with the Kickers. Umar believes his time in the NPSL was important to his signing with the Kickers in July.
“Joining the NPSL was such a very, very helpful decision. It kept me ready and it’s a high level of competition.”
WCUSC Head Coach Blaise Santangelo was extremely grateful to have Umar on the squad and knows he can bring a lot to the table for the Kickers.
“Oscar is best as a defensive central midfielder. His ball-winning and his range of play in the midfield are his two top traits, but we would also move him up and he would help link our backline to our attack.”
Umar’s time with West Chester also translated to wins on the pitch as the team finished tied for second in the NPSL’s Keystone Conference, narrowly missing a playoff spot. Now with the struggling Richmond Kickers, Umar is focused once again on getting his team three points.
“First thing is to help this team win, get this team back to winning ways, and finish this season off right.”
And so far, Umar’s presence appears to be helping the Kickers, as Richmond has gone 1-0-1 in their last two USL matches. The four points was the most the squad have recorded in two consecutive league games this season. For Santangelo and West Chester, they believe Umar can make an impact both on the pitch and off it.
“His character as a person is much better than his soccer game and his soccer game is incredible,” Santangelo added.
From here, Umar is hoping to gain experience and get the most out of his first professional opportunity.
“Individually, I just want to play in a lot of games,” Umar concluded. “I want to gain a lot of experience.”
For Oscar Umar, playing as a professional was a dream come true, and now, with his high skill level and strong character, it looks like his dream could last for years and years to come.