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Match Preview: Fort Lauderdale CF

By Will Clarke, 10/05/21, 4:30PM CDT

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After a September that ran the gamut of results, Union Omaha comes into the final month of the regular season with a full head of steam again. A 4-0 win at South Georgia Tormenta FC washed away the stink of a loss to FC Tucson less than a week prior, and then some. With Chattanooga Red Wolves having lost two straight, there’s a real opportunity to put the top spot in the standings on lock… if they can keep their energy levels up. Union Omaha have only 22 games played, with some clubs having as many as 25. This is one of seven matches in October, so they’ll need to ride their momentum and keep something left in the tank for the playoffs.

EVAN BETTER THAN BEFORE

Remember when we talked about Evan Conway in the last match preview? Let me catch you up: star player last season, leading the team in goals. Started this season hot, then injured for several months. He took a few matches to bed in, but started getting on the scoresheet again… and, well, let’s say he might now be looking for a house down in sunny Statesboro, Georgia. A hat trick against Tormenta FC put it beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s returned, and in comprehensive fashion. His first goal displayed the glue he uses to stick the ball to his feet. His second was an audacious, downright arrogant strike from 30 yards out. His third showed keen off-the-ball movement and a classy half-volley finish. Evan Conway is back.

ON THE REBOUND

An important mark of a team is how they respond after a loss. Are they streaky enough to let it start a slide? In 2020, the Owls only lost three matches all season… but they were all in a row. The opposite is, as Ted Lasso tells us, to be a goldfish. To have that short-term memory, move on, and come back strong the next game. Again, Union Omaha has three losses on the season. Their first two were followed by gritty draws against reserve sides from Toronto and Dallas, then a pair of wins, away and then home. After their most recent defeat, though, they did one better: thrashing their fellow birds from South Georgia, on their home turf no less. Omaha may be sitting pretty in the standings, but that ability to rebound could save their season at any point.

SERIES HISTORY

Predictably, given the radically different fortunes of these two clubs, Union Omaha’s record against Fort Lauderdale is spotless. Both wins against Fort Lauderdale in 2020 came from late goals, though, with an 84th minute winner by Ethan Vanacore-Decker one-upped in the season finale by Evan Conway’s half-volley in the 91st to steal three points. Their matchup in Florida this season was decidedly less dramatic, a 2-0 victory for Los Búhos despite only 39% possession. Conway has found the net in each of these three matches.

ABOUT FORT LAUDERDALE CF

Fort Lauderdale CF hasn’t quite had as turbulent an existence as their parent club, Inter Miami CF, but their place in the standings has been eerily similar. Both clubs ended up 10th in their respective tables last season, Miami in the East of the MLS and Fort Lauderdale in USL League One. This year, they each linger in 11th, struggling with porous defenses. The last win Fort Lauderdale netted, like Omaha, was also against Tormenta FC, but they’ve played four matches in the interim - the most recent being a heartbreaking 1-0 loss in Greenville thanks to a 91st-minute own goal. If there was ever motivation to bounce back from a loss, that would be it.