Open tryouts for Omaha’s new professional soccer soccer team, Union Omaha, drew more than 100 people Saturday.

There were no guarantees that even one of them would make the club. But that didn’t stop 132 men from putting up $95 and investing a lot of sweat to take their shot.

“We knew that it was going to be a popular opportunity because we obviously are a brand new expansion team,” said Matt Homoniff, Union Omaha’s chief operating officer. “... For something that we only announced a little over three weeks ago. We were very happy and very encouraged by the response.”

More than 70 percent of the hopefuls were from the Omaha area, including quite a few South Omaha, Homonoff estimated.

But players came from around the nation, and as befitting soccer’s international flavor, 20 countries were represented.

The tryouts took place at Omaha’s Tranquility Park, on a new artificial turf field and an adjoining grass pitch. The players were divided into eight sides and scrimmaged and worked out for hours under the watchful eyes of Union Omaha Coach Jason Mims and some of the top high school coaches in the state.

Participants in the tryouts had to be at least 19 years old, and most were in the range of 19 to 32. But there was one aspirant of 57 years.

For registering, they got an official tryout shirt, food and drink for the day and an evaluation of their play, in addition to a competitive workout.

Homonoff said Union Omaha hoped to find a player or two at the tryouts, but they might not sign any if they don't find anyone they believed would help the final roster.

“It’s a foregone conclusion at this point that we're going to have local players on the team,” he said “That's not the issue. The question is, are they going to come from this tryout, or are they going to be players that we knew about before the tryouts?”

Union Omaha leaders are working to craft an inaugural roster before the USL League One team begins play at Werner Park this spring. The season begins April 25.

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Chris Burbach covers the Douglas County Board, Planning Board and other local government bodies, as well as local neighborhood issues. Follow him on Twitter @chrisburbach. Phone: 402-444-1057.

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