Owls tied for first place on points with ninth straight win
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (September 16, 2023) – Union Omaha used a trio of first half goals to down Chattanooga Red Wolves SC and punch its ticket into the League One playoffs.
The Owls returned to the spot their season ended just a year ago, looking to become the first team to clinch its playoff spot and keep up in the tight race for the League One Players’ Shield.
The first half was full of offensive fireworks, with the Owls finding plenty of quality connections despite being tested by a challenging Chattanooga press.
Omaha once again struck on the attack first, taking the early lead in the 18th minute. Joe Brito put a solid shot on target that was batted away by Carlos Avilez in goal for Chattanooga, and Steevan Dos Santos was able to pounce on the loose ball to post his 8th goal of the season.
Conor Doyle sent his corner kick in on a rope to JP Scearce, who used a crafty backheel flick to touch to Marco Milanese for the back-post finish to double the lead in the 34th minute. The score marked the first professional goal for the Italian international.
The Red Wolves cut into the deficit in the 39th minute, converting a set piece opportunity from just outside the box.
Luis Gil, now tied for 3rd in assists in the league, notched his seventh of the year at the beginning of first-half stoppage time, sliding a perfectly placed pass across the face of goal to Brito, who just needed a tap to find the goal and put the Owls back up 3-1 heading into the break.
The offense nearly scored its 4th goal for the third time this season, as another dangerous corner kick chance found Dos Santos in the box for another on-target shot that was scooped up by Avilez in the 54th minute.
Chattanooga was able to pull within one score with a goal in the opening minutes of stoppage time, but the Owls held on to earn their sixth road triumph of the season. Rashid Nuhu recorded 6 saves on the night, tying his own all-time club record to keep the Red Wolves’ offense at bay.
“Another big performance by the team,” Milanese said. “Winning on the road is never easy in this league. We are very happy to have clinched the playoff spot, but our focus stays on trying to end on top, so we can host a semifinal at home. I’m very happy and proud of myself for the first goal, but the touch by JP was unreal. Overall, we’re very happy and can’t wait to play back at home next week.”
“Feels very good to get the win tonight and to clinch playoffs for the fourth consecutive year,” Scearce said. “This is a club that has known nothing but success, and I’m very proud of how we have that success going this season. Hopefully we can keep this momentum going and finish the regular season strong so we can secure home field advantage for the playoffs.”
“Really pleasing to get another win tonight. Chattanooga is a tough place to come,” Union Omaha Head Coach Dominic Casciato said. “They’re a team that never gives up and the crowd can be pretty hostile, and it was difficult to come and pick up points, so pleased for the guys to get the win. I thought we played some really good stuff at times, as well. Disappointing to give away the two goals that we did, and I think the good thing for us is there’s definitely a lot of room for us to grow and to keep getting better, and that’s what we’ll work on doing now as we look forward to Fuego next Saturday.”
Omaha now sits tied for first place on points and will be back at Werner Park aiming to extend its League One record to 10 straight wins, taking on Central Valley Fuego FC Saturday, September 23 for Oktoberfest.
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 Dominic Casciato on the field.