With some key pieces of Minnesota United’s backline set to miss the team’s upcoming clash with D.C. United, the Loons are likely to look to defender Wyatt Omsberg to help fill the void. Despite his inexperience, coaches and teammates alike believe the confident rookie will be up to the task against Wayne Rooney and company.
Omsberg has made just four appearances so far, including a pair of starts, in his first professional season, but is in line for another on Wednesday in D.C. with defenders Francisco Calvo and Michael Boxall both suspended and Eric Miller still battling a knock he suffered in the team’s last outing against Sporting KC.
“This is another step in his professional career,” Head Coach Adrian Heath said. “We have big hope for him, long-term. D.C. United, attacking-wise, at this moment in time are scoring as many goals as anybody else. It is going to be a big test for him, but we are confident he will be able to handle it.”
Since being selected with the No. 15 pick of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, Omsberg has worked to gain strength and confidence, but also to develop a heightened tactical on-field awareness. In college he said he was able to rely solely on his athleticism, but quickly learned that that alone would not cut it in MLS. He credited the coaches for creating a game-like competitive environment in training, which he said has allowed him to get up to speed — physically and tactically — despite a lack of minutes.
“The coaches here do a really good job of preparing you every day,” Omsberg said. “They make it as close to a game situation as possible every day in practice. Even through I have not played in a ton of games lately I feel like I have been preparing in practice every day.”
Against D.C. United, Omsberg will be charged with hampering a Rooney-led attack that has powered DCU to 17 points and a 5-2-2 record in its last nine games and put them back into the playoff conversation in the Eastern Conference. But trial by fire is nothing new for Omsberg. His previous two starts came against FC Dallas and New York Red Bulls — teams that both sit atop their respective conferences.
By the time MNUFC kicks off in D.C. on Wednesday, it will have been two and a half weeks since the team’s last game. Defender Brent Kallman, who will be tasked with leading the new-look defense, believes that extra time off to prepare and build fitness will be beneficial for Omsberg as he looks to seize the opportunity he has been working for.
“The kid has a really high ceiling,” Kallman said. “He has good tools. He is big, he is pretty technical and he is good with his feet. Once he gets more games I think he will be a really good player.”
"I am excited for him if he gets the opportunity to play because he has been working hard all year," he added. "It would be good for him to get a good game in D.C. and in a good environment."