PAPILLION, Neb. – Union Omaha looked to bounce back from a loss that ceded the top spot in the USL League One table, a spot they held since early June, but could only grab a point against North Texas SC.
While the result keeps them rooted behind Chattanooga Red Wolves in the standings, it does prolong their unbeaten record at home – this result puts them at 3-0-4 on the season and extended the unbeaten home streak to nine matches (dating back to 2020).
“We still have to be on the front foot more. We have to threaten to get in behind more and be more aggressive,” said Head Coach Jay Mims after the match.
It was a slow-burner of a contest, with only enough chances in the first half to count on one hand. That wasn’t too much of a surprise, given the attributes of each club. Union Omaha holds the league’s best defense by a country mile, while North Texas SC have barnstormed their way through August and planted themselves firmly in the playoff conversation.
There were more chances in the second half. Especially in the late stages, it began to feel as if the floodgates could open at any point – be it from a close-range header or an audacious Conor Doyle volley.
“I thought the last 15 or 20 minutes was great. We should have scored the goal with the header – keeper made a couple good saves. But we can’t wait until the last 20 minutes to add some urgency. The guys that are in there have to go.”
He expanded on the mentality he wanted to see more of tonight.
“We have to have a ‘want to.’ A want to score, a want to get behind teams, a want to win. I think you saw that in the last 20 minutes, but it’s got to be for 90 minutes.”
Rest assured that training this week will be dedicated to building up that first 70 minutes.
The aforementioned header came late, in the 83rd minute. A break started by a driving Ferrety Sousa quickly led to a cross from Emir Alihodžić that floated like a beach ball to the edge of the 6-yard box. New signing Ricardo Rivera thumped a header from the far post, but Colin Shutler not only got down for the point-blank save, but held onto the ball for dear life.
There were positives to take from Union Omaha’s performance, even outside of the unbeaten home record. After only a brief cameo last week in his first return to action since May, forward Evan Conway played 54 minutes of this match before being substituted off. That’s a very positive sign for last season’s top-scoring Owl as he rounds back into fitness going forward.
In the end, though, not even a late triple substitution for North Texas SC could break the deadlock in a match seemingly destined to stay scoreless despite the rising intensity.
“It was disappointing. We always want to score goals at home and we always want to win games at home, so it was disappointing,” said Coach Mims. “Obviously, it’s a good team in [North Texas]. We respect them and it’s a good rivalry we have going on.”
Union Omaha remains six points ahead of the veritable throng of teams scrapping around the playoff line. The Owls hold at least a game in hand over most of them as well. Still, that won’t dampen some disappointment in not being able to consolidate its top-tier status further and not clawing the top spot back from the Red Wolves at the first opportunity.
Los Búhos will travel east to square off against North Carolina FC for the first time next week. NCFC sit at the bottom of USL League One, but a win over Forward Madison and a draw with Richmond Kickers have given them some much-needed positive momentum of late. That’s something Union Omaha will be looking to siphon off for themselves after their own results in the past week. That match will take place at 6 p.m. CDT on Saturday, September 4th.
Union Omaha returns to Werner Park on September 11 with a match vs. Toronto FC. The match, scheduled for a 7:00pm CT kick, will honor community heroes and feature stories of people who have made a difference in our community.
Union Omaha vs North Texas SC
Werner Park (Papillion, NE)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
Union Omaha 0 0 0
North Texas SC 0 0 0
OMA: Tobias Otieno (Yellow Card) 50’, Blake Malone (Yellow Card) 90+2’
NTX: Michael Maldonado (Yellow Card) 23’, Collin Smith (Yellow Card) 26’, Caiser Gomes (Yellow Card) 31’, Blaine Ferri (Yellow Card) 68’
Shots (on goal): OMA: 10 (5); NTX: 10 (3)
Saves: OMA: Rashid Nuhu – 3; NTX: Colin Shutler – 5
Possession: OMA 44.0% – NTX 56.0%
Fouls: OMA 10; NTX 13
Corner Kicks: OMA 4; NTX 4
OMA: GK, Nuhu; D, Viader; D, Malone; D, Crull; D, Sousa; M, Otieno (Scearce 79’); M, Doyle; M, Boyce; M, Firmino (Alihodžić 54’); F, Conway (Rivera 54’); F, Hurst
NTX: GK, Shutler; D, Waldeck; D, Salas; D, Gomes; D, Smith; M, Ferri (Ramirez 83’); M, Maldonado; M, Hernandez (Bruce 88’); F, Kazu (Avayevu 88’); F, Gabriel (Jacquel 77’); F, Rayo (Benton 88’)
All game stats are unofficial.
ABOUT UNION OMAHA
Union Omaha, a member of USL League One, 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.