Last year never really started the way I would have wanted or would have hoped. God works in mysterious ways and you can’t really question that. —Omar Holness
2016 was an interesting year for Real Salt Lake midfielder Omar Holness. To begin the calendar year, the Jamaican national was selected in the first round, fifth overall in the MLS SuperDraft by RSL. Holness honed his skills at the University of North Carolina, one of the top soccer programs in the country, had already made an international appearance for his homeland’s senior national team, and was lauded by general manager Craig Waibel as his favorite player in the draft pool.
With such lofty expectations and high praise, you might think that Holness springboarded seamlessly into a highly productive rookie season, free of setback or drama. You’d be wrong. The drama came right away for Holness. In his professional debut, with the Real Monarchs, Holness went down with a seizure in the 33rd minute. The game was delayed for nearly 20 minutes while emergency services attended to him. RSL’s heir-apparent to captain Kyle Beckerman’s center midfielder position was taken off the field by ambulance.
“Last year never really started the way I would have wanted or would have hoped,” Holness told reporters at RSL’s media day. “God works in mysterious ways and you can’t really question that.
“I’m back for my second year, I’ve learned a lot from last year. I’ve set goals, I’ve set accomplishments that I want to achieve, but at the end of the day, the team comes first, the team is the star, and whatever happens I want this team to be successful and I want this team to win a championship.”
One thing that Holness has really made a priority is his fitness.
“I worked vigorously on being fitter. I learned that from Kyle as well. As a midfielder, you need to be the fittest on the pitch, and if you’re not you’re just not going to cope with the game and the rigors of the game.”
As for that inauspicious start to his career, Holness doesn’t worry about a reoccurring injury.
“In all honesty, it’s in the past for me. I don’t think about it, I wish to not speak about it really. As I said, God works in mysterious ways, and that one-off thing is just that, a one-off thing.”
Being on an RSL team with a blend of young and veteran talent, Holness thinks that the squad has limitless potential.
“I definitely like the mix of young players like myself and the experienced vets like Kyle in the locker room. I think that the young players bring that tenacity to compete and that hunger and desire to improve. It’ll keep those older, those more experienced guys on their toes. And once we have those bottom, younger guys growing with the older guys, the sky is the limit.”