Former Villanova and recent West Chester United midfielder Oscar Umar didn’t have a lot of time to prepare for his professional debut with his new teammates.
Less than two weeks, in fact.
The Ghana native, who graduated from Villanova in 2015 and served as an assistant coach at Cabrini University last fall, made the most of his limited time with his new team and was inserted into the starting lineup on Saturday only days after his contract had been finalized.
“I was really excited with the fact that they trusted in me and gave me the opportunity,” Umar said. “I didn’t take it for granted and I thought it was a good professional debut.”
That the debut came in Pennsylvania, against the Harrisburg City Islanders, made it even more special for the 24-year-old.
“Pennsylvania has been home to me for the last five years,” Umar said.
Umar is the fourth member of the Villanova teams he played on to turn pro, joining former teammates Kevin Garcia (Houston Dynamo), Aaron Dennis (Miami FC) and Chris Hill (Harrisburg City Islanders).
The Right to Dream Academy alum who came to the U.S. to attend the Kent School in Connecticut had hoped the opportunity would come sooner, but after trialing with Bethlehem Steel FC and Richmond Kickers in preseason, a contract offer never came. He ended up spending time with West Chester United in its inaugural National Premier Soccer League campaign, playing in six games.
“He was our top player,” West Chester United head coach Blaise Santangelo said. “Pure class as a person and silky smooth as a player. We’re really excited to see him get an opportunity.”
Umar spoke highly of the experience, getting to play with former teammates like Villanova fifth-year forward Max Kroschwitz and others from the area he played against in college.
“Playing in the NPSL with West Chester United was such an incredible experience and kept me on my toes,” Umar said.
Now his attention shifts to how he can help a team struggling in the USL Eastern Conference cellar. Saturday’s 1-0 loss extended the team’s winless streak to 13 games.
“My biggest goal is to help Richmond Kickers to finish the rest of the season well and help them win some games,” Umar said.
Richmond’s next opponent will be another from Pennsylvania with Bethlehem Steel FC visiting City Stadium on Saturday at 7 p.m.