PAPILLION, Neb. – With the regular season title on the line, Union Omaha kicked the can down the road.
Despite fielding a nearly full-strength lineup in this mid-week match, they came out flat to start each half and paid for it the second time due to a Josiah Trimmingham brace.
As Head Coach Jay Mims eloquently stated post-match, “Yeah, that absolutely sucked. There’s no better way to put it.”
The first half started inauspiciously, with Forward Madison hanging out in the Omaha half of the pitch. But beyond a powerfully spiked header from target man Trimmingham that rattled the crossbar, they didn’t create all too much. From there, Union Omaha got to work evening out the possession and the field tilt, but it was an uphill battle.
“We just didn’t look ready, and that’s on me,” said Coach Mims. “I’ll take the blame. We just didn’t look right until about 15 minutes left when we started looking like ourselves. But you can’t do that at this level.”
What was level through the first half was the score. There was only one shot on target for each team in the first half, in a scrappy affair that left both clubs about 10% short of their season-long passing accuracy numbers. The most notable moment of the half was a crunching two-footed tackle on Damià Viader by Tyler Allen, one that earned him both a yellow card and the ire of Evan Conway.
The second 45 felt more settled than the frantic first, with longer spells of possession. It didn’t take long to unsettle the Owls, though. One such spell in the 53rd saw the Flamingos work it to the left flank. Absolute havoc ensued when they put in a cross, with the ball ricocheting everywhere before finally being blasted home by Josiah Trimmimgham for the opener.
Trimmingham poured it on just minutes later. Abdul Osumanu flailed to corral a back-pass from Viader, and Madison’s Trinidadian forward pounced. He took a few steps to gather before firing a gorgeous lob over an off-his-line Nuhu that dropped softly into the back of the net for a 2-0 lead.
“We gotta have more fight, more anger, and gotta be more competitive. You saw that in the last 10, 15 minutes, but you just didn’t see it enough,” said Coach Mims.
Omaha took a bit to work up the momentum for a pushback, but the 70th minute yielded a couple moments of panic for Phil Breno in Madison’s net. Greg Hurst had a close-range effort that was tipped over, Viader’s ensuing corner forced Breno to backpedal and concede another, and Evan Conway gave the crossbar a fright a few minutes later. Still though, with minutes left in regulation it remained a two goal deficit.
A lifeline was tossed to them when Greg Hurst was dragged down on the turn by Connor Tobin. He blasted the PK home, Phil Breno pounced on the netted ball like a cat with yarn to whittle away a few more seconds, and a sliver of hope was restored.
Alas, it was not to be even with an additional couple minutes of stoppage and point-blank chances, and the Flamingos’ prayers for playoff contention were answered at least for this match.
“The only good news is we get a chance to show ourselves, and show the supporters, and show the league that that’s not us. Sometimes the best thing when you have a performance like this [is to] get back at it, and we’re lucky. We do. We have a Saturday game, and it’s at home.”
This result means that the top spot in USL League One is still up for grabs, with every team in the playoff hunt even on games played now. Omaha remain four points up on their closest competition over in Chattanooga, though, so a win this weekend will still cinch it.
There’s two matches left in the regular season, but only one more chance to catch the Owls at Werner Park before the playoffs ratchet up the tension another notch. As Coach Mims said, that’ll come this weekend, against red-hot Richmond Kickers. Five wins on the bounce have them a relatively comfortable four points inside the playoff bubble, with this match providing a welcome tune-up for the postseason for both sides. You can see Omaha this Saturday, October 23rd, at 6:00 PM CDT for Education Outreach Night presented by Bellevue University.
Union Omaha vs Forward Madison
Werner Park (Papillion, NE)
Goals by Half 1 2 F
Union Omaha 0 1 1
Forward Madison 0 2 2
OMA: Greg Hurst 89’
MAD: Josiah Trimmingham 53’, 58’
OMA: Evan Conway (Yellow Card) 32’
MAD: Tyler Allen (Yellow Card) 32’, Josiah Trimmingham (Yellow Card) 60’
Shots (on goal): OMA: 12 (5); MAD: 14 (4)
Saves: OMA: Rashid Nuhu – 2; MAD: Phil Breno – 4
Possession: OMA 48.9% – MAD 51.1%
Fouls: OMA 14; MAD 14
Corner Kicks: OMA 10; MAD 5
OMA: GK, Nuhu; D, Viader; D, Osumanu (Sousa 74’); D, Malone (Knutson 90+3’); D, Otieno; M, Scearce (Molina 74’); M, Doyle; M, Alihodžić (Crull 63’); M, Boyce (Firmino 74’); F, Conway; F, Hurst
MAD: GK, Breno; D, Rad; D, Tobin; D, Leonard; M, Allen; M, Toyama (Gomez 90+3’); M, Molloy; M, Jepson; M, Enriquez (Sukow 74’); F, Trimmingham (Fuson 74’); F, Sierakowski
All game stats are unofficial.