Omaha breaks through to earn its first win over Chattanooga Red Wolves in club history
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (June 4, 2022) – Union Omaha was able to get back to its winning ways Saturday night, notching a 1-0 victory on the road against Chattanooga Red Wolves SC.
It was los Búhos versus los Lobos on a beautiful night in early June, and both sides came in hungry for three points. Chattanooga started off league play on a tear with 3 wins in its first 6 matches, but has since cooled off, coming off two straight losses. Omaha has seen a relatively slower start to the season, although much of that can be attributed to playing a league-low six matches on the season. Although the Owls only have one loss on the season, they were looking to break through the string of early draws and secure their second win in league play.
To do so would not be an easy feat, as the Owls were heading up against a league rival that they haven’t seen as much success against in Chattanooga. In three previous meetings, Omaha has lost twice and drawn once. The Red Wolves have proven to be one of the strongest challenges to the Owls, but the visitors were looking to remedy that with the sides’ first match-up this season.
The Owls probably couldn’t have drawn up a better start to the match if they tried. It only took 2 minutes for Omaha to make it on the scoresheet, as a Joe Brito bender found its way into the top corner of the goal. It was Brito’s first goal in league play and his second amongst all competitions, as he also scored the game winner in the win over Minnesota United FC in the U.S. Open Cup. Noe Meza grabbed the assist on the goal, his third of the season.
The Owls’ defense got its first test in the 10th minute, as Alex Touche was able to come across the face of goal for a clutch clearance.
Omaha attempted to double its advantage in the 12th minute when Ryen Jiba drove in a cross to Hugo Kametani, whose header sailed just over the top of the goal.
Much of the first half featured Union Omaha shutting down the continuous attacks from Chattanooga’s offense. Rashid Nuhu recorded several touches in goal, including in the 38th minute off a threatening set piece from Rey Ortiz.
The closest the Red Wolves came to equalizing came late in the 40th minute, with José Carrera-Garcia sending a shot wide to the side of goal. From there, Nuhu and the Omaha defense remained persistent on retaining its reputation as one of the league’s strongest defenses, conceding the least amount of goals on the year.
On its last chance of the first half in stoppage time, Brito delivered a challenging corner kick to Kametani, who flicked a header on-target but was batted away by Chattanooga’s goalkeeper Carlos Avilez. The Owls went into the locker room at half still up a score but looking for more.
The always-dangerous Omaha counter-attack came into play again in the 63rd minute, with Brito sending a cross in front of the face of goal that was swooped up by Avilez.
The back four weren’t the only ones making defensive gems for Omaha on the night. In the 68th minute, Kemal Malcolm showed he can be just as tough defensively as he is on the attack, making a sliding tackle to save what would have been a clear strike on goal from Aaron Lombardi.
If there was one stat on the night that was concerning to the Owls, it would likely be the heavy amount of yellow cards given on the night. The Owls, known for their impressive discipline, had only recorded 9 yellow cards on the season before the night. On Saturday, Omaha recorded six, meaning that the Owls had to be cautious when trying to preserve their lead.
In the end, the Owls were able to hang on and walk away from CHI Memorial Stadium with their first road win of the year and their first-ever club victory over Chattanooga. It was the second consecutive clean sheet for Omaha, who is tied for first in the league in the category. The Owls will look to grab another 3 points on the road next week when they travel to FC Tucson, before returning home to face Greenville Triumph SC on June 18 at 7 p.m.
ABOUT UNION OMAHA
Union Omaha, the 2021 USL League One Champion, is the only professional soccer team in the state of Nebraska. USL League One is a United States Soccer Federation-sanctioned professional men’s soccer league that occupies the third tier of the American soccer landscape, below USL Championship (tier two) and Major League Soccer (tier one). Union Omaha plays its home matches at Werner Park in Sarpy County, also home to the Omaha Storm Chasers of Minor League Baseball. The team is led by General Manager Peter Marlette in the front office and by Head Coach Jay Mims on the field.