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2020 Sacramento Republic player postmortem: Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu

Savvy midfielder did the dirty work in first season at club.

David Calvert/Reno 1868 FC (Courtesy of Republic FC)

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu was an intriguing addition to Sacramento Republic FC’s roster in 2020, the central midfielder moving northwest after a year spent in Arizona, splitting his time between FC Tucson and Phoenix Rising.

Wheeler-Omiunu was a draft pick of Atlanta United before that, making just one appearance in MLS across two seasons. The Harvard product was a classic USL player — with potential at the MLS level but never able to break through the fray, and joining Sac Republic as a 25-year-old was a move with plenty of potential.

Here are Wheeler-Omiunu’s stats for 2020:

Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu 2020 Statistics

2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
2020 Games Played Games Started Minutes Goals Assists Shots SOG Yellow Cards Red Cards
Regular Season 8 5 453 0 0 2 0 1 0
Playoffs 1 1 116 0 0 0 0 0 0
Total 9 6 569 0 0 2 0 1 0

Wheeler-Omiunu was a classic defensive midfielder for Republic FC, putting out fires in the center of the park and locking things down in the middle to help the attackers do their job better. Central midfield was a fairly deep spot for the club, with Drew Skundrich, Jaime Villarreal and Rodrigo Lopez regulars and/or rotating in regularly alongside AWO, and the new man had to wait for his turn. While he went the distance in the season opener in March, an injury in August slowed him down, as he missed almost two months.

Still, Wheeler-Omiunu’s shifts were pretty quiet, and considering his role, drawing just one yellow card, no reds, and six fouls all season is really quite good. Often the holding midfielder has to resort to all tactics to slow down the opposition, and his game is surprisingly clean.

Given his age, and the departures of Skundrich and Lopez, Wheeler-Omiunu will be back with Sacramento for the 2021 season. Obviously the club will need to do some reloading, but he started the majority of his appearances and if he can stay healthy, he likely has the inside track on being the regular starter next year.

I think it’s a smart move. He’s a steady presence at the USL Championship level and is in the perfect age range to be a foundational player the next year and beyond. Having a player who does the quiet work in midfield is important, and perhaps with things opening up, he’ll get to show more dimensions to his game, too.

Of course, the biggest highlight this season for Wheeler-Omiunu was his win in the coronavirus shutdown talent show “MLS Idle” in May, as his singing and play on the keyboard got him technically Sac Republic’s first title in MLS.

It was a solid start for Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu in Sacramento in 2020, and we’ll see what the future holds for him with the club.

What do you think? Leave a comment below.