Forward Madison FC has re-signed 28-year-old midfielder Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu, pending league and federation approval, the club announced Tuesday.
“I’m very excited,” Wheeler-Omiunu said in an interview Tuesday. “I’m looking forward to getting back and just trying to have a better season as an organization, as a team, as a city than we did last year.”
Despite a long unbeaten streak in the middle part of the season, Forward Madison finished ninth in the league and missed the playoffs for the third consecutive season in 2022. Wheeler-Omiunu, entering his seventh season as a professional, said a better 2023 will take “a recommitment of what our team wants to do, what our coach wants us to do. A rededication, just a buy-in from everybody.
“I think we had that at times last year but we were unable to maintain that consistently, as a player group,” he added. “The support that the fans give us shows us as players, we have to take that responsibility and understand that it’s our job to go and perform. It’s our job to buy into what we’re doing and be absolutely committed every step of the way. The formula isn’t a super sophisticated one. But it’s a difficult one, nonetheless. At the end of the day, it’s difficult to get everything right, or for the majority things right.
“He’s been a leader since the day he got here,” Head Coach Matt Glaeser said in statement. “[Andrew’s] a box-to-box player and his engine is unique to our level. He’s always a very exciting and dynamic player.”
Wheeler-Omiunu made 27 appearances with the Flamingos last season, all in the starting 11, all in the defensive midfield position. He missed a number of games early in the year due to an injury suffered in a US Open Cup third-round match against Minnesota United.
The midfielder scored one of the goals of the season for FMFC with a bending strike from the wing against Northern Colorado Hailstorm FC.
Wheeler-Omiunu was tactically precise on the pitch with a passing accuracy of 84.5%, while tallying 3 assists, 9 shots, 19 chances created, 25 clearances, and 22 interceptions over the course of the 2022 campaign. Wheeler-Omiunu played his college soccer for Harvard, where he logged four goals and six assists in 64 appearances. He captained the squad during his junior year and was a twice an All-Ivy League First Team honoree. During his collegiate career, Wheeler-Omiunu also managed to play for a couple of USL PDL club’s (GPS Portland Phoenix and Seattle Sounders FC U-23).
Following his collegiate career, Wheeler-Omiunu was drafted 46th overall by Atlanta United in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft. He spent one season with Atlanta United in 2018, the same year the club won the MLS Cup. In 2019, Wheeler-Omiunu joined USL League One squad FC Tucson, where he was awarded USL League One Team of the Week twice and was second on the team in Tackles, Duels, Duels Won, and Interceptions. After his stint in Tucson, Wheeler-Omiunu spent two seasons with Sacramento Republic FC in the USL Championship. Wheeler-Omiunu made 19 appearances and tallied 1,314 minutes for Sacramento in 2021.
Wheeler-Omiunu said Glaeser and the coaching staff’s “urgency” was one factor in his decision to return, along with Madison’s well-known fan support.
“There’s no denying Madison has the best fans in the league. I mean, it’s arguable that we have the best fans in all of USL,” he said. “The opportunity to play in front of a dedicated fan group and dedicated city of supporters is not something that you want to take for granted. It’s not something that you get to have every day, every year of your career. I was really appreciative of the way that the Madison community supported us and welcomed us last year, as a team and myself as an individual. I’m just grateful to experience that again. Results aside, I found a lot of fulfillment and appreciation for my time in that city last year. I’m looking forward to experiencing it again.”