PAPILLION, Neb. – First-half goals by Evan Conway and Greg Hurst paved the way to the first USL League One title in Union Omaha’s history as the hosts took a 3-0 victory over Greenville Triumph SC on Saturday evening at Werner Park.
Los Buhos secured the title before a League One Final record crowd of 5,521 fans as the side that finished with the best record in the regular season claimed its first silverware to cap a remarkable second season.
Seeking a fast start before the energized crowd, Omaha settled quickly into the game and took the early initiative. Hurst and Damia Viader had chances inside the opening six minutes, including Viader clipping the top of the crossbar from a narrow angle in the left side of the penalty area.
The pressure paid off with an early goal as in the seventh minute midfielder Conor Doyle took possession just inside the Greenville half and quickly released Viader on the left. The 2021 League One defender of the year dribbled to the byline to deliver a chipped cross to the back post that Conway headed home for his third goal of the postseason.
The goal broke Greenville’s shutout streak at 646 minutes. The visitors remained unable to settle into their rhythm after falling behind. A turnover in the defensive third led to a second opportunity to Hurst centrally from 16 yards that Los Buhos’ leading scorer curled just wide of the top-left corner of the net.
Triumph SC began to come into the game as it reached the midway point of the first half, and almost leveled in the 26th minute when Allen Gavilanes got to the byline on the left and delivered a cross toward the penalty spot that Noah Pilato headed just wide of the right post. The greater danger remained with the hosts and Conway could have doubled their lead two minutes before halftime as he headed wide of the right post from 10 yards after a good cross from the right by Devin Boyce.
As with Omaha’s opening goal, however, the second arrived moments after a near miss. Less than 60 seconds after Conway’s chance, Los Buhos shifted play from the left to Boyce in the top-right corner of the penalty area. The winger cut inside and struck a low shot that was heading wide when Hurst deftly redirected the ball into the roof of the net from eight yards to make it a two-goal lead at halftime.
Greenville looked for a way back into the game as the second half began but was unable to make serious inroads in the final third despite controlling the bulk of possession. Omaha, meanwhile, tried to find ways to hit on the counter and from set pieces, and with 19 minutes to go were denied a third by the referee when Hurst was adjudged to have fouled Triumph SC goalkeeper Paul Christensen as they vied for a high ball in the six-yard area before Daltyn Knutson scored after the aerial battle saw the ball run loose.
The visitors’ first good chance to cut into the deficit arrived with 15 minutes to go as substitute Andrew Booth was played into the left side of the penalty area only for his effort to the far post to deflect off a defender and into the hands of Omaha goalkeeper Rashid Nuhu. Two minutes later, though, Union was reduced to 10 men as Conway was shown his second yellow card to set up a potentially tense finale.
That potential came to fruition as Greenville threw numbers into the attacking half, and with seven minutes to go substitutes Nico Brown and Alex Morrell almost found the breakthrough when Brown’s cross from the right was headed just wide of the left post by Morrell from the top of the six-yard area. With the visitors pushing up, Omaha almost locked the game up with a minute to go as Hurst got away on a counterattack and shot wide of the left post.
Triumph SC were then denied at close range as the game moved into stoppage time as Booth skied to head a corner kick from the left by Morrell on target. Nuhu got down to make the save as the officials ruled the ball had not fully crossed the line as he held possession. A minute later, Omaha sealed its first silverware as Tobias Otieno took a throw-in from the right by fellow substitute Emir Alihodzic deep in Greenville territory and wove into the penalty area before finishing into the left corner, sending the crowd and players into celebrations that resumed when the final whistle blew.
USL League One Final Most Valuable Player
Damia Viader, Union Omaha – Viader provided the assist on the opening goal and helped Omaha control the flow of the game in midfield for much of the game, making four interceptions and 10 recoveries in addition to three key passes and three shots in attack.