Misc Soccer News

Owls’ Wings Get Clipped in Tempestuous Loss to Hailstorm

Omaha Notches Second Straight Road Win at FC Tucson

June 3, 2024 – United Soccer League One (USL1)
Union Omaha News Release

PAPILLION, Neb. – Union Omaha’s final unbeaten streak came crashing down in a loss to Northern Colorado Hailstorm, handing them their first loss in USL League One this season.

While they held the lead late in the first half, Missael Rodríguez’s sending-off threw a wet blanket on their momentum, and by the 62nd minute the ill-tempered match had been flipped on its head.

“At the end of the day we gotta keep working and stick to our gameplan,” said defender Blake Malone afterwards. “We have to try to commit to what we want to do with and without the ball. Unfortunately, tonight we weren’t able to get it done, but we build, we learn, and we move on to the next.”

Despite early struggles in the league, Hailstorm had momentum going into this match from their group-topping form in the Jägermeister Cup. It showed early on, with 60% of the possession through the first half hour. Union Omaha struggled to play progressively, with a 75% passing accuracy undermined by a mere 42% rate in NoCo’s half of the pitch.

Neither side fashioned many clear-cut chances, though, other than a dangerous counter that saw Hailstorm’s leading scorer Bruno Rendón blast the ball into the side netting.

The first twist, then, came deep into stoppage time. Joe Gallardo whipped an outswinging corner kick into the fray, and Pedro Dolabella made a marauding run in front of a mass of bodies to thump the header home. Against the run of play, the home team had their lead and, if they held out, a much happier stroll through the tunnel once the whistle blew.

Sadly, it didn’t quite end up that way. Mere seconds after play restarted, Rodríguez lunged late on Lucky Opara to earn a second yellow and an early halftime break. Opara then got into it with Gallardo, and his second shove sent the Owl sprawling to the turf as tempers flared at each other and the referee. The final result: bookings for Opara, NoCo goalkeeper Lalo Delgado, Omaha attacker Lagos Kunga, and a red card for one of the Hailstorm assistant coaches.

Suddenly the halftime break became a much-needed time to blow off steam and recalibrate, for both teams.

While the Búhos had to try and see the match out, Hailstorm used that downtime to plot how to turn the tables. The answer, evidently, was through a pair of goals that put the linesmen to the test.

In the 54th minute, Noah Powder spun away from Marco Milanese’s challenge, sliding who else but Lucky Opara in on…

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