CARY, N.C. (October 1, 2022) – Corey Hertzog found the net again for Omaha, but another late goal meant that the Owls would have to settle for a point against North Carolina FC.
The two sides came into the night needing results for very different reasons. For the Owls, a win would make them the second team to officially punch their ticket into the League One playoffs, while a loss for North Carolina, currently sitting in last place on the table, would make it the first team to be eliminated from playoff contention. The Owls were hungry for 3 points after going winless in their last four and the night proved a perfect chance to get them back on the right track before making a playoff run.
Omaha entered looking for a similar result to its last meeting against North Carolina, in which the Owls’ offense exploded, churning out three early goals in the first 20 minutes, including Kevin Piedrahita’s stunning, history-breaking goalkeeper goal, and Noe Meza recorded his first professional brace to secure a solid 4-1 victory. North Carolina would instead hope to slow down the Owls’ offense as they did in July, with a 1-1 draw at Sahlen’s Stadium.
The first yellow card was issued early in the match to Alex Touche in the 6th minute after a challenge outside of the Owls’ box.
The Owls took the early lead in the 26th minute, with Corey Hertzog capitalizing off a defensive miscue from North Carolina, much like his goal in the sides’ previous meeting. Taking advantage off a bad pass in Carolina’s box, the experienced striker delivered a poised, clinical finish to find the back of the net, putting the Owls up 1-0 with his fourth goal of the season since joining the club in August.
Adversity struck early for the Owls, who were forced to make two early substitutes after Dion Acoff and Alex Touche left the game due to injuries and brought on Shaft Brewer Jr. and Gabriel Claudio.
Piedrahita recorded his first denial in the 36th minute, batting down a hot strike from Nico Rincon to keep the Owls’ lead intact.
Omaha nabbed another chance in the 58th minute, with Luis Gil dribbling and driving just outside the box with a long-distance shot that just sailed over the crossbar. He was booked minutes later, giving his team their second caution of the game.
Brewer Jr. used a flash of his impressive speed to create another quality look in the 79th minute, striking a mid-range shot that slid wide left of frame. Another yellow card was given to the Owls in the 81st minute, this time earned by JP Scearce.
The Achilles’ Heel for the Owls as of late has been the late goal, and it struck again in Saturday’s match. With a packed box of Omaha and North Carolina bodies, Oalex Anderson was able to find an equalizer for the home side in the 83rd minute.
Brewer Jr. earned the visitors’ fourth booking of the night in the 85th minute. The Owls induced a dangerous chance to grab the lead back in the final minute of stoppage time, when Brewer Jr. slid a low cross into the box looking for a white jersey to tap in but just slipped past a sliding Hugo Kametani, much to North Carolina’s relief before the final whistles blew.
The 1-1 draw means Omaha will have to wait at least another few hours, and potentially another week depending on other results, to clinch its playoff berth. The Owls will return to Werner Park for their last two matches of the regular season, first hosting South Georgia Tormenta on Saturday, October 8 for Hispanic Heritage Night presented by Supermercado before closing out against Central Valley Fuego FC for Fan Appreciation Night.
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.