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League One Season Preview - Newcomers

By Staff, 07/14/20, 11:15AM EDT


Expectations are high in Omaha, and Fort Lauderdale brings another high-profile coach to the mix

The 2020 USL League One season kicks off this weekend, with 11 teams set to battle for the right to claim victory in the League One Final at the end of the campaign. As we gear up for the action to start, we’re going to take a look at all 11 squads, starting with the three new sides that will grace League One this year.

Union Omaha
Head Coach: Jay Mims
Union Omaha supporters have patiently waited for their club to take the field since its launch in May of 2019. Los Buhos have done just about everything right in their 14-month existence, and fans should expect that to continue when Head Coach Jay Mims’ side takes the pitch for the first time. With the roster Mims has assembled, the first-year club looks built to contend for a place in the League One Final.

Omaha looked defensively sound in its three matches against USL Championship competition at the Wasatch Winter Cup back in February, conceding just one goal while earning a win and two draws. Elma N’For, Juan Mare and Xavier Gomez bring League One experience to the group, while Sebastian Contreras adds a creative element in attack. Mims should be feeling confident in his squad as he takes the sideline as a professional head coach for the first time this season.
Player to Watch
Sebastian Contreras
Contreras steps into Omaha’s midfield with the chance to be one of the best players in the league. The 30-year-old playmaker led USL Championship’s El Paso Locomotive in chances created in 2019; time will tell if he can replicate that production in Nebraska.
Fort Lauderdale CF
Head Coach: Jason Kreis
Fort Lauderdale CF has the most experienced head coach in the league leading the club in its first season, which should inspire confidence that may otherwise be lacking due to the uncertainty surrounding the roster. Jason Kreis has taken the reins of the first-year club alongside his duties as the United States U-23 National Team coach and will have to lean on his experience to get the most out of the young side. Fort Lauderdale’s roster is expected to be made up of a mix of academy players and players with experience at the professional level but will trend towards the younger side.

Kreis is no stranger to difficult tasks (he became the youngest MLS Cup-winning head coach in history when he led Real Salt Lake to the title in 2009 after the club finished in eighth place in the regular season), so don’t be surprised if he and his group of young players give teams some problems in the Florida heat. They’ll get a strong first test on the league’s Opening Day when they host John Harkes and Greenville Triumph SC.
Player to Watch
Eduardo Sosa
Sosa played 18 matches for Major League Soccer’s Columbus Crew SC across two seasons before signing with Fort Lauderdale in February. Expect Sosa to create lots of goals and scoring opportunities as he tries to work his way back towards MLS.
New England Revolution II
Head Coach: Clint Peay
The New England Revolution II is the third and final club making its League One debut in 2020. Like Union Omaha, Revs II will be led by a first-time professional head coach in Clint Peay, and like Fort Lauderdale, the roster is made up of a mix of academy graduates and players with professional experience under their belts.

Most of those with previous professional experience arrived in New England following stints on USL Championship rosters, including Connor Presley and Orlando Sinclair, both of whom featured regularly for Loudoun United in 2019. Presley and Sinclair should help anchor the attack, while former Michigan State standout Nick Woodruff and 2020 MLS SuperDraft draft pick Simon Lekressner hold it down at the back. What happens in between is still a question until we see Revs II take the pitch for the first time.

Personnel aside, the venue should be the great equalizer. Expect teams to have to work, and work hard, to leave Gillette Stadium with points this season.
Player to Watch
Nick Woodruff
Woodruff has flourished at the amateur level; time to see if he can do the same as a professional. He’s one of their own ¬− the Attleboro, Massachusetts native appeared in 118 matches for the Revolution Academy before playing four seasons at Michigan State − and the club was created to bring their own through the ranks to the first team. Woodruff is one to watch in year one.

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