PAPILLION, Neb. – A scrappy affair at Werner Park saw Union Omaha leave the pitch with fewer men than Chattanooga Red Wolves, but the same number of goals.
A record Union Omaha crowd of 3,880 watched the Owls secure a point before taking in an independence Day fireworks display.
A first half marked by physicality gave way to a knock-down-drag-out fight in the second for Los Búhos to cling to their advantage.
They were granted that lead by way of a well-worked goal finished by former Red Wolf Greg Hurst. However, the match turned when JP Scearce was sent off early in the second half. Omaha went into survival mode for the remainder of the match, but surrendered a 91st-minute equalizer after a game of pinball in front of their net to cede a point to Chattanooga.
“Our guys are exhausted right now, but I couldn’t be happier for the guys,” said Head Coach Jay Mims afterwards. “They grinded, they showed grit. Just amazing, the performance they put on.”
The match started with a shot on goal within 15 seconds, but the ensuing play was marked by intense pressing and short spells of possession. The most notable moment in the early goings came when a Juan Galindrez shot deflected off Connor Doyle and shook the crossbar.
Greg Hurst then came back to haunt his old club in the 36th minute. The lead up was made by Damià Viader, whose industriousness down the left flank led to a wide-open crossing opportunity for Ferrety Sousa. Tim Trilk, making his season debut for the Red Wolves in goal, punched it clear for a corner. On the ensuing routine, Viader floated an in-swinging ball to the far post. JP Scearce nodded it back across the face of goal, and Hurst tucked it into the corner off the volley.
Scearce’s night ended 55 minutes in following an incident in his own penalty box that saw Chattanooga’s Jason Ramos hit the deck. From there, Chattanooga wrested control of the match. They threatened off a similar-looking routine to the Owls’ goal, with Mark Hernandez firing a rope through traffic that clattered off the far post and away. Not to be outdone, Viader immediately shook the post himself with a long-distance laser. In all, a punishing match for both teams was punishing for the equipment as well, with five shots in total hitting the woodwork.
Mims was impressed with his team’s efforts through the entire match. “You know, Chattanooga’s a team that prides itself on possession and you could see tonight that they came here and didn’t have any business wanting to do that,” he said, backing his league-leading defense.
Rashid Nuhu was injured after a scramble to close down Blake Frischknecht, who was in on goal after a whipped-in ball from the left. The resulting delay to look after him helped lead to a nervy finish with five minutes of stoppage time, with last-minute mayhem in the final moments to fray the nerves of everyone watching.
Ultimately, the valiant efforts of Omaha defenders to stave off the Red Wolves’ assault ended in late heartbreak, though Mims was optimistic about the outcome. “It obviously feels disheartening right now — feels like a loss, but once we have a couple days to think about it, it’s a great result, playing a man down the whole second half.”
A point tonight keeps them undefeated at Werner Park this season. Their record in front of the Parliament now stands at 3-0-1.
Union Omaha will have a week to recover from this slugfest before finishing their three-match home stand by hosting Forward Madison FC on Friday, July 16 at 8:00 p.m. CT.
Union Omaha vs Chattanooga Red Wolves SC
Werner Park (Papillion, NE)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
Union Omaha 1 0 1
Chattanooga Red Wolves 0 1 1
OMA: Greg Hurst 36’
MAD: Mark Hernandez 91’
OMA: Connor Doyle (Yellow Card) 45+1‘, JP Scearce (Red Card) 55’
MAD: Josue España (Yellow Card) 24’, Ricky Ruiz (Yellow Card) 31’, Jose Carrera Garcia (Yellow Card) 81’
Shots (on goal): OMA: 6 (1); CHA: 16 (5)
Saves: OMA: Rashid Nuhu – 4; CHA: Tim Trilk – 0
Possession: OMA 41.1% – CHA 58.9%
Fouls: OMA 14; CHA 9
Corner Kicks: OMA 2; CHA 5
OMA: GK, Nuhu; D, Viader; D, Knutson; D, Crull; D, Sousa; M, Otieno; M, Scearce; M, Alihodžić (Firmino 86’); M, Doyle; F, Boyce (Molina 92’); F, Hurst (N’For 66’)
CHA: GK, Trilk; D, Ricketts; D, Ramos; D, Navarro; M, Esparza (Dietrich 85’); M, Ruiz; M, Carrera-Garcia; M, Ortiz (Mentzingen 45’); M, España; F, Galindrez (Hernandez 57’); F, Frischknecht (Pineda 94’)
All game stats are unofficial.