Union Omaha finally opened their USL League One season against New England Revolution II with a 0-0 draw at the empty and NFL-ready Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts with all of the usual technical difficulties a USL supporter can handle. All jokes aside, the club played some exciting soccer (for example, the screaming free kick from Damia Viader was hopefully a sign of good things to come). However, I have to confess both sides were a bit sloppy during the first quarter of the match. First game jitters, I suppose.
Although it would be irresponsible to take too much from the first game of an inaugural season, there were a few items of note. Sebastian Contreras wore the caption’s armband for Omaha and you could see why throughout the match. He seems to know where he is on the pitch at all times. The Argentine veteran can quickly survey the field and make the pass that puts players in a scoring position. However, you could see his frustration when a few of his touches were a bit too strong for his teammates to handle. I’ll toss that up to a lack of in-season playing time, but the quality is definitely there.
The defense seemed to recover well from a few onslaughts created by the Revs in the first half. The three in the back strategy may need to be revisited in the future, but the backline stood strong in the second half. That said, a strong backline also depends on a good keeper and the save by Rashid Nuhu after an on-target rocket launch by 2020 Super Draft pick Ryo Shimazaki seems to suggest that Union Omaha may have their first-choice keeper locked down.
From what I noticed during a quite sunny Saturday afternoon in Foxboro, Union Omaha will be a tough team the beat this season—albeit, this match ended in a 0-0 draw against an academy side. But, the Owls mustered good pressure off of turnovers, created a few really changes that put shots on goal, and Contreras running the midfield is definitely something to follow as the season goes on. Also, let’s not forget the Owls’ principal owner and CEO, Gary Green, live streaming the match from the sidelines. It was really helpful for Union Omaha fans during all the technical difficulties. Much appreciated!