A select few of the area’s best men’s soccer players have another chance to play the game they love at a competitive level. And, with any success, the next generation behind them will have the same opportunity to strive to achieve.

Wahda United FC, a semipro men’s soccer team that is based in Lewiston and is part of the United Premier Soccer League, is set to play its inaugural home opener Sunday at Lewiston High School’s Don Roux Field at 7 p.m. against Boston Street FC.

The USPL, according to its website, is a “pro-development league” that “occupies the fourth tier of the US Soccer pyramid, just below the three professional tiers in the pyramid.”

The newly created Wahda United FC franchise was born of a vision by the Hersi family of Lewiston.

It was a vision “to create a unified group of players,” said head coach Abdijabar Hersi, who also is an assistant for the Central Maine Community College men’s soccer team. “For the vision to become a reality is something to be proud of, creating a future and direction for our youth pathway.”

“We noticed that Maine did not have any semipro soccer for the amount of talent the state has,” said Abdibaari Hersi, Abdijabar’s brother and the team’s operations manager as well as a player. “We also formed the team so a lot of Maine’s youth could get an opportunity to further their soccer career towards a professional career or to get a college scholarship.”


The Hersi brothers founded the franchise, along with their father Abdullahi Abdi, the club president.

“The process was a bit long,” Abdibaari Hersi said. “We had to prove that we had the finances to run our club throughout the whole season, and also had to pay a franchise fee. We also had to prove that we were structured and organized, and that we had facilities that could host games of this caliber.”

Don Roux Field, which opened in 2018, has artificial turf and seats well over 1,000, with concessions and restrooms located at one end of the field.

It’s a familiar facility to many players on the team’s roster, which features a handful of Lewiston High School graduates. Besides Abdibaari Hersi, Wahda United FC includes another Hersi brother, Bilal, as well as Enock Citenga, Abdirahman Daud, Suab Nur, Saleh Brahim, Dek Hassan, Hussein Hassan, Dido Lumu, Raimundo Lubota, Romano Bassa, Abdibaari Hersi, Mardoche Kikobo and Abdulkarim Abdulle.

Abdifatah and Abdiraqib Yussuf, from the Central Maine Community College men’s soccer team, also are on the 35-player roster listed on the UPSL’s website.

“The players are from all over Maine and different backgrounds,” Abdibaari Hersi said. “We have players from the USA, Somalia, Angola, Burundi, Congo, South Africa, Rwanda and Kenya.”


Abdijabar Hersi, who also spent several years as a Lewiston High School assistant, has fellow CMCC assistant coach Ibrahim Oumar on his Wahda United FC coaching staff.

“To be able to coach a group of fierce competitors who have great passion and love for the game, it is very exciting to see many guys get the opportunity to play a good level of soccer,” Abdijabar Hersi said.

Abdibaari Hersi called building the roster a long process.

“We held invite-only tryouts based on players we’ve had prior experience with, as well as recommendations from coaches across the state. We also let players who were interested (go through) a trial period,” he said.

Abdijabar said he wants a team that dominates possession and dictates tempo.

Wahda United FC will be in search of its first-ever victory Sunday, after dropping a 3-2 defeat at GZS Bridgeport FC in Connecticut in Wahda United’s inaugural game last Saturday. Abdulle and Alberto Lusukula scored second-half goals to give Wahda United a 2-1 lead before GZS Bridgeport rallied late.


“One thing I learned from the last game would be to control the momentum of the game from the start. It took us, as a team, about 25 minutes to settle into the game,” Abdijabar Hersi said. “Setting the tone in rhythm and tempo of the game from the beginning would be an ideal start for us. Another thing I learned is to not foul on our own half, as we gave the opponent too many set pieces, especially towards the end as we blew a 2-1 lead with 17 minutes remaining in the game.”

Abdibaari Hersi noted that there were two lightning delays that occurred when Wahda United held that late lead.

“We showed that we are tough to play and beat and will definitely learn from the mistakes we made in the final minutes of that game,” he added.

Wahda United FC competes in the UPSL’s Premier Division, which features more than 200 teams divided into regions. Wahda United plays all of its regular season games against the New England region, which includes 12 teams: six from Massachusetts, four from Connecticut, and one each from Maine and New Hampshire.

Wahda United will face each New England team once. Six of those games will be played at Lewiston High School. Along with Sunday’s match, Wahda will host games on April 16, April 30, May 14, May 28 and June 4. The regular season concludes June 10.

Wahda United’s name comes from one of its goals, which is to unite the community using the game of soccer.

“Wahda means ‘to create unity,’ which is our ultimate goal,” Abdibaari Hersi said, later adding: “We want the community to know that this team is for the community and that everyone from Lewiston and across Maine are a part of our club. We want the community to be involved as fans, players, if good enough, and volunteers to help us make our home games a great experience for everyone attending.

“Wahda United FC is the community’s team and we want everyone to unite behind us.”

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