Union Omaha finished on top of the USL League One standings on the way to a berth in this Saturday's USL League One Final. | Photo courtesy Union Omaha
A season on from reaching the USL League One Final in its inaugural campaign, Union Omaha continued its drive toward the first silverware in its history in Year 2 as it finished on top of the league standings as a core group of returnees combined impressively with the club’s newcomers to cement the club as a formidable force in the league. Here’s how Los Buhos earned a second consecutive berth in the League One Final.
Omaha got off to a winning start to its 2021 campaign on home turf as its returning and new elements started to come together in the attacking third. Evan Conway scored the opening goal of the season for the hosts, while newcomer Greg Hurst opened his account in Omaha while also providing three key passes in a solid start to the season.
After avenging their first loss of the season the weekend prior against Forward Madison FC, Los Buhos got a landmark moment at Werner Park as Greg Hurst scored the first hat trick in club history to lead the side past the Revolution II. The contest also marked the first time Omaha had recorded four goals in a game in its history and would be the first of four times it would achieve the mark before the end of the regular season as Union tied for the league-lead with 44 goals.
For much of the middle of the season, Omaha was locked in a battle with Chattanooga Red Wolves SC for top spot in the League One standings, a race that appeared might have tilted Chattanooga’s way when the Red Wolves took a 1-0 win when the sides met on August 21 at CHI Memorial Stadium. Momentum shifted back to Los Buhos as it took an emphatic victory on the road at North Carolina FC two weeks later, though, after Damia Viader scored early on and then added a second-half penalty kick to earn Union a win that moved it back ahead of Chattanooga, a position it would not relinquish over the final two months of the season.
With the end of the season closing in, Omaha had already had one opportunity to clinch first place in the League One standings only to fall in a midweek outing against Forward Madison FC. Three days on, however, Los Buhos made no mistake as they ended the Richmond Kickers’ five-game undefeated streak in dramatic fashion. With the game scoreless with five minutes to go, Tobias Otieno found the breakthrough for the hosts before Greg Hurst added a second in the 88th minute to secure the best record in the league with a game to spare.
Union Omaha’s first postseason game ended up being one for the record books as the side ran away from FC Tucson to record the most goals in a League One game in its short history to advance to the 2021 League One Final. Evan Conway got things going after only three minutes, and after his second just past the half-hour mark a red card for the visitors only added to the chances for the hosts. Four more goals in the second half – including finishes by Damia Viader and his first goal for the club by Austin Panchot – saw Omaha home as the side also recorded the most shots on goals (16) in a League One game in its history.