Misc Soccer News

120th Minute Goal Ends Union Omaha’s Open Cup Run

Union Omaha Signs League One Veteran Luca Mastrantonio

May 9, 2024 – United Soccer League One (USL1)
Union Omaha News Release

OMAHA, Neb. – It was a different kind of crushing defeat for Union Omaha against their I-29 rivals in the U.S. Open Cup.

Lagos Kunga’s 31st minute goal was canceled out by Marinos Tzionis just after the second half began, and it took until the 120th minute for Alan Pulido to break the stalemate and send Sporting Kansas City to the round of 16.

“I think they can be proud of themselves,” said Head Coach Dominic Casciato afterwards. “They executed the game plan, and they pushed a good MLS team to their limit. This was not a shadow squad that they put out. It’s a really strong team they put out, with a lot of big guns. So for us to go toe-to-toe with them, and plan the way we did, and keep it as tight as we did… and we all thought we were going to penalties, right? Until that last goal at the death.”

From the opening kick, Union acquitted themselves well. Their wide low block kept Sporting KC at bay, while their opponents’ narrow setup allowed plenty of cross-field switches of play to Dion Acoff to advance forward. The first half hour of the match was sedate, which was good news for the home team.

By the end of that time, though, it all kicked into gear.

Rashid Nuhu was forced into an acrobatic stop to keep the always-opportunistic Eric Thommy at bay. Union broke on a 3 vs 1 after the ensuing corner kick, but Aarón Gómez went right instead of left, and Pedro Dolabella couldn’t pick out the final pass.

And then, the big one. Dion Acoff burst through the SKC touchline press, taking advantage of an aggressive step by Zorhan Bassong. In a blink he was on the byline, showing the speed that was always going to be crucial for a potential giant-killing. Joe Gallardo couldn’t control the cutback, but Lagos Kunga stepped up and blessed a shot that ricocheted off Kayden Pierre and in.

The Owls grew in confidence after that, to the raucous chanting of the Parliament urging them to hang tight. At least until the halftime whistle, they did.

On the other side of the break, though, Dolabella was caught on the ball, and Cypriot international Marinos Tzionis pounced when he went into the spin cycle. His wormburner of a shot just eluded Nuhu’s sprawling grasp. 48 minutes in, it was all back to square one.

Speaking about the approach after the equalizer, Coach Dom said the gameplan didn’t change too much. “It was tough for us to get control of the ball against them. It was tough for us to really…

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