Onumonu welcomes the pressure of must-win soccer

#7 Sky Blue FC takes on #2 Washington Spirit today in a quarterfinal matchup. While that indicates the New Jersey club are underdogs, forward Ifeoma Onumonu doesn’t see things that way. “You know I don’t really think of this team as an underdog because I know how good we are and how great we can be, but based on this team history in the league I see where that idea comes from,” Onumonu told BGN.

“I feel like the term ‘underdog’  is a blessing and a curse because, on one hand, I feel like teams don’t know what to expect, but on the other, because I know what we are capable of it’s disappointing to me when we play below our own standard,” she added. “I feel like we’ve grown a lot so much in this tournament already so I’m excited for the future.”

That future includes a showdown with the Spirit in a few hours that could see their tournament run come to an end. “I welcome the pressure, this is what makes the game worth playing,” Ifeoma said. “I’m really excited to get out there and play and do anything it takes to get that win.”

This is Onumonu’s first season with Sky Blue FC after being traded from OL Reign in January. “I’ve really enjoyed my time with Sky Blue so far,” she explained. “There is so much support around me from the players to the coaching staff, so I’m really happy and proud to be a part of this club.” In the club’s only win of the preliminary round, she played a major role in SBFC’s success. Ifeoma provided the assist on Paige Monaghan’s opening goal and finished with three shots and 19/22 passes vs. Houston. Discussing what she brings to the attack, the Cal product said, “A few of my strengths are my speed and versatility so I’m comfortable anywhere along the attacking third and I’m able to provide a dangerous option where ever I am.”

While she’s energetic and aggressive on the pitch, she’s very relaxed off of it. Talking about her entertainment in the bubble, she said, “I like to read, or just watch YouTube videos, to be honest. There aren’t any shows out right now that have captured my attention, plus I watched them all during the first few months of quarantine!”

“Currently, from time to time I walk around the hotel and listen to music; Usually R&B like Summer Walker or Giveon is what I’m listening to right now, but I switch it up once in a while.”

In normal circumstances back home in Rancho Cucamonga, California, she enjoys a laidback lifestyle, too. “I’m a pretty chill person so when I’m back home I like to just hang out with my family, or go to the outdoor mall and take a stroll, shop, or watch a movie,” she said.

Also, if you’ve only heard of her hometown in the movie Next Friday, you aren’t the only one. “That’s funny because I hear that a lot! I’m not the only one in this tournament from Rancho Cucamonga I have a few people I went to high school with on other teams in the league,” Ifeoma pointed out.

While she’s proud of her hometown, Onumonu will want her current home to stay in the Utah bubble. To make that happen, Sky Blue FC will need to pull off the upset this afternoon. After yesterday’s result between North Carolina Courage and Portland Thorns FC, that’s not out of the question.

Carson A Merk

Reporting live from Sin City, I have covered both RGVFC and Las Vegas Lights FC since their inceptions. I also write profiles to highlight players from the NCAA to USL to NWSL and everywhere in between.