Werner Park will host a USL League One pro soccer team starting in 2020, with the club awarded to a group led by Omaha Storm Chasers (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) owner Gary Green.
USL League One is the Division III circuit under the larger USL umbrella, and it began play this spring with 10 clubs. It will expand to Omaha next year, with the yet-to-be-named team joining the Storm Chasers at a renovated Werner Park. The club has been awarded to Alliance Omaha Soccer Holdings, an entity led by Green.
“The Omaha soccer community has been yearning for a team to call their own and more importantly deserve a team to call their own,” said Gary Green, owner and CEO of Alliance Omaha Soccer. “The USL’s vision to grow the beautiful game has shifted the dynamics of cities and communities across the country, creating an energy and passion that these communities have never seen before. Like other USL cities, Omaha metro and Sarpy County will experience this same shift.”
USL is the largest professional soccer organization in North America and operates multiple tiers of the soccer pyramid, ranging from professional leagues such as Championship and League One, along with pre-professional leagues. League One began play in 2019 with ten inaugural clubs. The third division league has focused on launching new clubs in markets that possess strong local ownership groups, populations with broad-based diversity, a vibrant millennial and strong family base, established corporate support, and stadiums to properly showcase the sport for fans, partners and the public.
“Omaha metro is an established sports destination and one that will thrive as a home to professional soccer,” said USL Senior Vice President Steven Short. “The addition of Omaha to League One allows us to continue to bring professional soccer to new communities across the country. Gary Green and his team have reached great heights with their sports ventures and we know he’ll be able to mirror that success on the soccer field. We look forward to watching the greater Omaha community rally around this club as it works towards its inaugural season in 2020.”
Alliance Omaha Soccer has been in communications and negotiations with the USL for the past couple of years regarding the opportunity to bring professional soccer to the greater Omaha region. The new team will play at Werner Park, which is undergoing a variety of stadium improvements to support the addition of a second team and sport. The team will have its own staff and be led under the leadership of President and GM Martie Cordaro.
The team’s name and crest will be released later this year. It will be developed through the input and engagement of fans and reflect the spirit and community of the greater Omaha region. The team will be hosting a series of town halls, workshops, interviews and online polls in order to gather as much input as possible from the soccer community during the creation process of the club’s crest. Fans can learn more and participate at omahaprosoccer.com.
Also announced today was the hiring of the team’s coach in veteran Jay Mims. Mims is familiar to Omaha soccer fans as he created and built the Division 1 soccer program at the University of Nebraska Omaha. Mostly recently Jay has been the assistant coach for Real Salt Lake Academy U19 and U17 teams as well as the Director of scouting for the Academy.
In addition, Cordaro announced the hiring of Matthew Homonoff as Chief Operation Officer for the new club. Matt comes to Omaha from Des Moines, IA where he served as General Manager of the Des Moines Menace of League Two.
“We have established a level of excellence at Werner Park through the experiences we provide our guests and the partnership we have with Sarpy County,” said Martie Cordaro. “Through soccer, we can continue to elevate the sports and entertainment experience for the greater Omaha region, as well as create an environment to develop talent, both on and off the field.”
Werner Park will undergo construction beginning in the Fall of 2019 to ready the stadium for soccer. The stadium upgrades, being funded by Sarpy County, will include additional locker rooms, field enhancements, and offices for the soccer staff. A general contractor has not been named but a rendering of the new field layout is shown above.
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