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2024 USL Kickoff Season Preview: Union Omaha

By ETHAN TRIEBSCH - ethan.triebsch@uslsoccer.com, 02/19/24, 1:45PM EST

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Reigning Coach of the Year Dominic Casciato looks to lead parliament to new heights

It was a record-breaking regular season for first-year Head Coach Dominic Casciato and Players' Shield-winning Union Omaha. The Owls became the first club in League One history to finish atop the table twice thanks in large part to the history they made in 2023, setting single-season league records for points (65), goals (61), goals per match (1.91) and finishing with the second-most points per match in league history (2.03). 

Omaha's scintillating 2023 regular season was highlighted by a remarkable turnaround in the second half of the year. Following a 2-3-7 record and 10th-place start to the season, Casciato and Omaha finished the season with a 17-2-1 record which included a new league record for consecutive wins (10). Omaha dropped just two of its possible 42 points through its final 14 fixtures of the regular season to finish atop the table for the second time in club history. That regular-season success, though, didn't carry over to the playoffs as the Owls became just the second Players' Shield-winning team to fail to advance to the League One Final.

Replicating their 2023 success and returning to postseason glory could prove tricky for the Owls who lose all-time appearances leader J.P. Scearce, U.S. Open Cup hero Joe Brito, all-time leading goalscorer Noe Meza, promising defender Shaft Brewer Jr. and First Team All-League defender Alexis Souahy (via Spokane) to the USL Championship. The good news for the Owls, though, is that they'll retain Second Team All-League forward Steevan Dos Santos, 2022 Golden Glove and Goalkeeper of the Year Rashid Nuhu, Second Team All-League defender Dion Acoff and a number of promising talents including Joe Gallardo, Lagos Kunga, Luca Mastrantonio and Pedro Dollabella, among others.

Casciato and his staff have added some intriguing newcomers to the fray as well, most notably veteran forward Josué Gómez, former MLS and USL Championship defender PC, Haiti national team mainstay Mechack Jérôme and former Chelsea FC academy product Nortei Nortey.

While Omaha will certainly look different than it has over the past few seasons, one thing remains clear: Bet against the Owls at your own risk.

PLAYERS TO WATCH


Steevan Dos Santos | Image Credit: Union Omaha

FWD - STEEVAN DOS SANTOS

Omaha signed Steevan Dos Santos to score goals and he did just that in 2023, leading the club with his 14 goals (and an additional five assists) across all competitions. Just one of 10 players in the history of the USL Championship to accumulate 70 or more combined regular season and postseason goals, the 34-year-old Dos Santos recorded his highest-scoring season since 2013. In the Championship with the Rochester Rhinos, Ottawa Fury FC, Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies, the former Cape Verde international netted a whopping 73 goals across all competitions and claimed a USL Cup with the Rhinos in 2015. Before his career in the USL, Dos Santos also played abroad in Cape Verde with his hometown CS Mindelense, Norway with Ullensaker/Kisa IL, and Angola with Progresso Associação do Sambizanga.

DEF - PC

After losing First Team All-League center back Alexis Souahy and versatile full back Shaft Brewer Jr. to the USL Championship in the offseason, the Owls will turn to veteran defender Victor "PC" Giro. The experienced Brazilian will join Omaha after spending the past four seasons with USL Championship club San Antonio FC, claiming the 2022 USL Championship title and Players' Shield with the club. PC started his career in his native Brazil in the youth system of Corinthians before being loaned to then-Portuguese Primeira Liga side CF Os Belenenses, where he made his professional debut in the Taça da Liga in 2013. After spending the 2015 and 2016 seasons in the NASL with the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Tampa Bay Rowdies, PC was signed by Major League Soccer side Orlando City SC in 2017 and later moved on to Vancouver Whitecaps FC in 2019. Between Orlando and Vancouver, PC made 37 senior team appearances.


PC | Image Credit: San Antonio FC


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