Venue: Caniglia Field; Omaha, Neb.
Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET
Weather: Partly cloudy, 39°
Series (First Meeting): 2-2-5 (2020)
Union Omaha and Forward Madison FC will kick off their 2023 campaigns on a chilly Sunday afternoon at Caniglia Field. Both the Owls and 'Mingos will be eager to improve on largely disappointing 2023 campaigns in league play. The Owls finished below second in the table for the first time in their history and were bounced in the first round of the playoffs. For the 'Mingos, Forward Madison finished ninth for the second consecutive season. Similarly, both squads went out and used their extended 2022 offseasons to rebuild their rosters in big ways. Omaha brought in veteran USL Championship goalscorer Steevan Dos Santos, former U.S. youth national team star Joe Gallardo and USL Championship-winning and Comoros international defender Alexis Souahy, while Madison added Central Valley’s leading scorer Christian Chaney, 2022 OFC Champions League winner Sam Brotherton and 2022 All-League defender Timmy Mehl. In a series all even at 2-2-5, look for an exciting matchup as Omaha Head Coach Dominic Casciato and second-year 'Mingo gaffer Matt Glaeser get things going in 2023.
OMA - Noe Meza: Meza was one of the league’s most consistently productive first-year professionals a season ago after enjoying a standout collegiate career at Seattle University from 2016 to 2021. In his debut professional season, Meza lead the Owls with nine goals and four assists while becoming the first active League One player to score against MLS opposition in Omaha’s remarkable Open Cup victory over Chicago.
MAD - Christian Chaney: Madison was able to coax Central Valley’s leading scorer away from his native Fresno in the offseason. Chaney was one of just nine players to record double-digit goals in 2022 and led the league in goals added from receiving according to American Soccer Analysis.