By: Stephanie Gardner
From playing barefoot on the dirt field in his home country to wearing his Pumas in the state-of-the-art complex at Dick Sporting Good’s Park, Omar Cummings has become one of the most powerful players in the MLS. A quiet and humble man, his performance on the pitch speaks volumes. In his past 6 matches, Cummings has scored 7 goals. He has been “Man of the Match” numerous times, MLS “Player of the Week”, and even had a Fox Sports international “Goal of the Week”. Recently, he was given another national honor by being named MLS “Player of the Month”. At every position on the pitch, the Colorado Rapids are a powerful force, and Omar Cummings’ consistent speed and accurate shots completes the picture of how dangerous the Rapids have become.
Photo by Garrett Ellwood/MLS via Getty Images
The road to the playoffs seems to be where Cummings is headed, but the path that brought him to this moment began far away from Colorado. Looking around the pitch during a Rapids’ home game, there are numerous Jamaican flags being waved. These flags are for #14, Omar Cummings.
Cummings proudly describes his life growing up in Jamaica by saying, “It was good. I have my cousins and my brothers who play soccer. All the guys in my community play. I am one of the closest guys to the field that we play in. I live right next to it, so we play every day. In the summer, at school, when we got home from school, that is what we do. It is a very competitive family, very competitive group of guys, and I am glad I had the opportunity to play there.
“I didn’t get my first pair of cleats until I was 14. So I enjoy playing barefoot, the whole time, and I played in some really scruffy fields, I tell you that much.” Omar grins and says, “It was good. At school, most of the fields were dirt, and when you did play on a grass field you treated it as it is were the best field in the world. Memories like that will always stay with me.”
As for other sports he and his family tried, Omar laughed and explained, “We always tried a bunch of sports, from basketball to rugby to trying to drill holes in the ground and play golf, to tennis. As a family and cousins, we did everything.”
Ever since he was a young kid, Cummings always wanted to be a professional soccer player. He states, “I can’t think of one time where I didn’t want to be a professional player. It has always been a dream for me, and it is a dream come true.”
The biggest influences in Cummings’ life have been his two brothers. “I think my brothers have been a tremendous help in my career. They were guys that were really good players, and I was the one coming up in their shoes. They were big shoes to fill. My whole family, and my brothers especially, are very “soccer” people. I think they gave me the motivation, the drive, and the energy to try to be a better player.”
Photo by Garrett Ellwood/MLS via Getty Images
Coming from Jamaica to attend college was one of the obstacles Omar Cummings had to overcome. He comments on that time, “Coming from Jamaica, the situation is poverty, and I had to have a scholarship to come to college in America. From there, even going to the two colleges (Cincinnati State College and then University of Cincinnati), it was a bit difficult. The transition took about 6 months, and it got a little bit better. In soccer, when I moved on to the University of Cincinnati, it was a different program and hard to get used to the whole system, the guys, and everything. It wasn’t a smooth ride, but it was a good challenge for me.”
After college, Cummings began his career with the Rapids on the reserve team. Last year, he became a starter and a crowd favorite. When not on the pitch, Cummings describes his time off as relaxing. “It’s mostly watching games, hanging out with Kosuke (Kimura) and the rest of the guys, with movies, books, whatever. It’s kind of free, not any one thing, just everything. I make sure my time to relax is very relaxing.”
When it comes to watching soccer teams around the world, Cummings reveals, “I like Barcelona. I just love the game, so I have a lot of teams I support. I love many players, too. I have a lot of favorites. If a game is going well, then I love to watch it.”
While Cummings is having an unforgettable season in Colorado, he still enjoys going back home to Jamaica. “I only get to visit when the season ends, and I don’t get to go back home unless the Jamaican national team is having a game there.” He continues, “Once the off-season starts, I go back there as soon as I get the chance to go. I am gone in the next few days and come back a week before we do preseason.”
It is clear that Cummings’ family is a significant part of his life. He tells, “Right now, I have my brother here for the year. Before that, I didn’t have any family around, so to have him here in Denver right now is great. Everyone, but my brother, is in Jamaica; my mother, father, sisters, brothers, cousins, and even my wife. We are in the process of trying to get her up to the states, right now. We have been married a year and a half. In January, it will be two years.”
Earlier this year, the Rapids were struggling, as was Cummings, with being confident and consistent. Cummings describes the hardest part of being a professional soccer player, “For me, I think its consistency in your game. From day-to-day, to come out and practice, and win games, and give your best is a challenge. You are going to have your off days, but just to try and be consistent, at a high level, is the hardest part.”
Colorado Rapids fans would like to keep the fact that Omar Cummings is the most dangerous player on their pitch a secret, so that they can continue to see him wear the burgundy jersey. Cummings says about his future, “It’s up to the coaches, I guess. I love Colorado. I am happy to be here. You never know what the future holds. For me, I am here now, so I am devoted to Colorado.”
The changes in the Rapid’s performance, as well as in Cummings, in the past few months have been impressive. Cummings describes the changes by saying, “I think it is an urgency, in my game, and in the team’s game. Heading off to the playoffs, I think we are doing good. We have the motivation, and we really want to make the playoffs.”
Whenever Cummings scores a goal, the crowd goes wild, some waving Jamaican flags, accompanied by the sound of the cannon firing. On the Jumbotron is a close-up of #14, professional soccer player, Omar Cummings. If you can see past the soccer jersey, the national honors, numerous goals, and the name-brand shoes, you will still find that young boy from Jamaica; the boy who is playing soccer, barefoot, on dirt fields, and is now living his childhood dream.