TAMPA, Fla. – In his first professional season in 2020 at Union Omaha, Damia Viader turned heads for his play at full back, earning League One All-League First Team honors.
In Year 2, the progression the young Spaniard made to become one of the leading two-way players in the league was undeniable as he helped power los Buhos to the best record in the league while contributing to both the best defensive unit and the highest-scoring attack in the process.
On Monday, Viader was named as USL League One’s Defender of the Year, honoring his standout play throughout the campaign ahead of competing in Saturday’s League One Final.
Viader’s dedication to improvement has been visible both through watching his play and in his numbers at both ends of the field. This season in addition to recording six goals and five assists while leading the league with 58 key passes, the 23-year-old also ranked third in the league among outfield players in interceptions with 56 and recoveries with 205.
“I was an attacking left back coming into the professional game,” said Viader. “After joining Omaha, I wanted to really improve on the defending side and thanks to my coaching staff and my amazing teammates, I have improved a lot in that aspect of the game. This award is a recognition to the consistency our club has had defensively over the course of these last two seasons.”
Viader’s season saw him named as the League One Player of the Month for September in addition to his second consecutive All-League First Team selection. As his progression continues, the opportunity he has taken full advantage of in Omaha could lead to even bigger things as his career matures.
“Dami has really developed into a special player this season,” said Omaha Head Coach Jay Mims. “He continues to learn and get better every day. He has been a leader on our backline with the quality he shows and plays such an important role for us with our style of play. Dami is still so young, and I am so excited for his continued growth as his best years are yet to come.”
“Dami is a special player,” added Union General Manager Peter Marlette. “It’s rare to see an outside back who can defensively shut down any player he comes up against, and also drive the offense creatively. He’s a nightmare to play against because he can hurt you in so many ways. Anyone lined up against him knows they’re in for a brutal 90 minutes.”
Viader received 60 percent of the ballot to earn the award. Chattanooga Red Wolves SC’s Jason Ramos finished second on 26 percent, while Toronto FC II’s Kobe Franklin finished third on 15 percent.
The 2021 USL League One Awards were voted on by team technical staffs and executives representing every team.
USL League One Defender of the Year
2021 – Damia Viader, Union Omaha
2020 – Brandon Fricke, Greenville Triumph SC
2019 – Conner Antley, South Georgia Tormenta FC
2021 USL League One Awards
Goalkeeper of the Year: Akira Fitzgerald, Richmond Kickers
Defender of the Year: Damia Viader, Union Omaha
Coach of the Year: Announced November 17
Young Player of the Year: Announced November 17
Most Valuable Player: Announced November 18