Orlando City B (1-4-3, 6 points) dropped a tough one in Nebraska tonight to Union Omaha (4-0-3, 15 points). A late first-half goal by Evan Conway held up through the final 45 minutes as the hosts took all three points.
First-team players Mason Stajduhar, Joey DeZart, and Jordan Bender traveled with the team to Nebraska after starting Thursday night against North Texas SC. Juan Pablo Monticelli took over the captaincy as Mateo Rodas was out with an injury. Thomas Williams and Mason Lamb also re-entered the starting lineup in place of Rodas and Michael Halliday. In total, nine of the 11 starters and 13 of the 16 total players in this game are Orlando City first-team players, draft picks, or academy products.
The game started with a show of unity as the two teams linked arms at midfield. They slowly shifted toward each end line and each sideline before breaking off into their positions for the start of the game. It was a slightly different showing than we’ve seen so far this season as each team in USL League One finds its own unique display.
Union Omaha came out of the gate dominant in the first 14 minutes. The hosts accumulated seven shots and six corners in that time. They nearly took an early lead when Ethan Vanacore-Decker, Omaha’s most dangerous attacker, turned and shot three minutes in. The shot beat Stajduhar but not the post as the ball slammed off the woodwork.
In the 10th minute, Omaha nearly scored a spectacular goal when Sebastian Contreras found Jake Crull near the penalty spot. The defender attempted a volley but the shot was a little high of goal.
After 14 minutes, it looked like it would be a long defensive night for OCB but that’s when the Young Lions turned on the offense. Finally pushing the ball into the opposing half, Bender shielded off his defender and found Moises Tablante free on the left side. The attacker shot on target but Omaha goalkeeper Rashid Nuhu was able to palm it out of play. After conceding six corners in the opening minutes, OCB won three consecutive corners, while taking four shots at the Omaha goal.
Once they were finally able to clear the ball, the hosts got their best chance until just before halftime. In the 22nd minute, a beautiful cross by Vanacore-Decker found a wide open Elma N’For near the far post. The forward went up for the header but jumped too soon and missed the ball completely. Had he gotten his head on it, Stajduhar would’ve been frozen and Omaha likely would’ve taken the lead.
Omaha finally broke through in the 43rd minute. Devin Boyce made a nice run that included avoiding a sliding Williams to send a beautiful cross toward the back post. Jonathan Rosales thought he had the clearance but Conway came flying through to head the ball in. Stajduhar had no chance to react and the hosts took the late first-half lead.
The turn and the dime from @devinbernard_, the finish from @conway_evan #OMAvORL | @Union_Omaha pic.twitter.com/LOglzC0Qgs— USL League One (@USLLeagueOne) September 7, 2020
While the first half started with a flurry of chances, the two teams were much calmer to start the second, preferring to work through the midfield. While Union Omaha got the first two shots in the first 15 minutes of the second half, it was OCB that nearly scored. A poor touch by Crull in the 65th minute allowed Wilfredo Rivera to take advantage and create a shot on goal. Nuhu did very well to come off his line and made the diving save, palming the ball away from danger.
While there were several quality chances in the first half, there were few in the second half. This game could’ve gone in several directions as Union Omaha tallied 20 shots and OCB took 13. However, the only shot on target for Omaha was the 43rd-minute goal by Conway. The Young Lions didn’t do much better, only placing two of their 13 shots on target.
Other than the number of shots, the other statistics were nearly even. If not for a couple of excellent saves by Nuhu, it could’ve been a much better night for the Young Lions. Instead, they drop their fourth game of the season.
After two games in quick succession, OCB will have nearly a week off before heading to Fort Lauderdale next Saturday night. The Young Lions will be looking for a better result against a team they should’ve beaten at home earlier this season.