Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Wednesday, May 29, 2024

FMFC 2-2 Union Omaha: Resilience

Photo: Justin Nuoffer

Hello and good Sunday to you all, Andrew here with a recap of FMFC vs Union Omaha. While it was another cold breezy evening on the isthmus, I much preferred a lack of sideways rain or snow, staples of the wlldly varying climes of springtime in Wisconsin. It was great to see friends from Omaha, please do give Omaha Social Club a follow on the old bird app, and definitely hit them up of you’re attending an away day in Omaha. OSC’s tailgate is open to everyone, and they are proactive about welcoming away support without the neek drama which is all too often part and parcel of stateside supporter orgs.

The Flock unfurled their first tifo display of the 2022 campaign, a banner replicating the transgender pride flag with the phrase “PROTECT TRANS KIDS” in all caps. I for one love that we as a fan community make clear our stances on human rights, especially with perennial far-right ghouls recently passing bans on transition care for trans youth in states like Alabama, Arizona, and Texas (among others). We cannot allow these bigots and their cruelty to gain any sort of foothold in our town, and the least we can do is aim to make them unfomfortable showing up to matches.

Match Recap

The match started fairly end-to-end, the ball sailing through the air for much of the first couple minutes. Madison struggled to maintain possession early on, seeing many long balls being recieved with a heavy first touch. In the 6th minute Audi Jepson served up a dangerous ball which Nazeem Bartman would attempt to head home, but the attack was snuffed out and Omaha cleared it away. An unmarked Bartman would again come close to opening the scoring near the 7 minute mark, his run behind the Omaha back line just a half step short from receiving a floated ball in from Mikey Maldonado. Omaha’s Hugo Kametani opened the scoring in the 14th minute. Brito played a quick pass to Conor Doyle from the wing, Doyle one-touch flicked it past both Jepson and Enriquez to find Noe Meza, who looked surprised to see his first touch bounce up and over him and Leonard into the path of Kametani, who’d already beaten Mitch Osmond. Kametani took a touch and fired it past Breno, a well-worked close range goal against the run of play, Madison unlucky with the bounce off Meza.

Gebhard would be brought down in Omaha’s 18-yard box in the 34th minute after a delicious piece of skill dribblng past Ryen Jiba, John Scearce going two-footed into a tackle. Outside the box this is a definite professional foul to prevent a 1-on-1 with the keeper, but the ref is going to blow for a penalty every time a studs-up challenge happens that close to goal. Audi Jepson stepped up to the spot and coolly buried his shot, Nuhu diving the wrong way. 1-1 game.

The visitors would again go ahead in the final minute of stoppage time before the interval, a headed goal from Scearce assisted by a largely unmarked Conor Doyle. Doyle served the ball in from the right flank just past the halfway line, Breno comes off his line and attempts to punch it but Scearce narrowly beats him and nods it gingerly up and over into the net. It was another goal largely against the run of play, capitalizing on a momentary loss of shape and composure from Madison’s defense.

Glaeser made two changes at halftime, bringing Jeremiah Streng on for Bartman and Cyrus Rad for a very leggy-looking Cesar Murillo. Cesar coming off made absolute sense after playing 60 minutes just 3 days earlier. After the break, Madison dominated possession and their efforts were rewarded in the 70th minute, seeing Jeremiah Streng notch his first for the Flamingos. Gebhard collected a bouncing loose ball on the right flank, took a few touches toward the endline and delivered a searching cross into the box. Abdou appears to be taken down and as a result mishandles the cross, which goes ricocheting off Streng. Jeremiah takes a touch, and then simultaneously turns and fires a low shot across goal and into the bottom corner past an outstretched Nuhu. The agility on display from the 6’2″ striker was impressive to see, especially as it’s the type of shot so frequently bungled under pressure.

Rojay Smith came on for Gebhard just moments later, a change which would heavily affect the outcome of the match as Smith made an impressive goal line clearance in the dying moments of stoppage time. Omaha’s final attack saw Ryen Jiba bring the ball up the left and make a razor-fine low cross into the box, beating 3 defenders and Breno before Rojay broke up Noe Meza’s chance at an open goal. Omaha would have one more corner which was cleared by the Madison defense.

Christian Enriquez doggedly chased down Rivera and then Alihodzic, forcing a pass back to Omaha’s third before the ref blew the final whistle. While to some these draws might bring back memories of the 2021 season, from where I stand it showed incredible mental toughness to not let their heads drop and to keep fighting for an equalizer. It was a hard-earned point against the reigning league champs, but Glaeser wasn’t satisfied with the draw:

“The team was resilient. Quite honestly, we need to win that game. That’s a game we should win. Two cheap goals from us and we’ve got to be better. But pleased with how the guys stuck with it. I think as a group, we need a little bit more composure in the final third.”

-FMFC Head Coach Matt Glaeser

When asked about the mood in the locker room, coach Glaeser had the following to say:

The guys are great. They’re a great group of guys, they fight for one another, they care about each other, which is all I can ask for. There’s a great vibe in the locker room and it’ll continue to improve.

-Matt Glaeser

The Lineup

Multiple changes were made from Wednesday’s starting XI: Osmond, Maldonado, Leonard, AWO, and Abdou all got the nod while Schneider, Sukow, Abdou and Rojay began the match from the bench. When we spoke to Glaeser after the game, he let us know Cassini has been carrying a knock, which is why he’s been playing off the bench.

Starting XI, ratings, and supposed formations from Fotmob

Audi Jepson was rated man of the match by Fotmob with an 8/10 rating. Madison bossed possession at 68%, and outpassed Omaha nearly 3:1 with an 80% completion rate, while Omaha only managed 61% pass completion. Both teams tallied 14 shots apiece, and equally managed to put 4 of those on target. Omaha more tidy in defense, managing to win 75% of their tackles (compared to Madison’s 64%). Both Breno and Nuhu made two saves on the night. Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu was metronomic in the midfield all evening, only bested in passing by Mitch Osmond. We caught up with AWO after the game, who was positive about the result:

There were some great improvements from last game, especially in terms of the aggression and our reactions – when we lost the ball we were much better, and our play in the final third was much better than last game. We created more chances, and still need to be a little more clinical, take care of that last ball, that last touch – we – myself included, gave away too many good opportunities in the final third. But like I said, as a team, there are a lot of positive improvements from last game to this one.

-Andrew Wheeler-Omiunu

NDZ: How are you settling in, how are you liking playing here so far?

AWO: This home opener for me was everything I could ask for. The experience from the crowd, from the fans – the atmosphere here was electric and as a team we felt that on the field. And hopefully that’s what the fans saw in our desire to keep pushing till the end, to try to get that goal. And even with Rojay getting to our goal line to save a goal in the last minute of the game, that’s the character we need from our team that we displayed in the first week and we continue to display now. We gotta hold on to that, but it comes from the energy of the fans. They’re pushing us along and it’s amazing.

NDZ: What’s it like playing here compared to a giant arena like the Mercedes Benz in Atlanta?

AWO: The closeness of the fans here, it creates such an intimate atmosphere. You can hear every single thing that’s said – whether you’re close to the sidelines or in the middle of the field, it doesn’t matter – the fans are so loud and having them so close to the field, for our opponents it creates a very hostile environment. Because it certainly sounds like we have 15,000-20,000 strong here.


I’m off to take Clyde to the park and maybe spin some tunes for a bit, enjoy the rest of your Sunday and stay tuned tomorrow for some news on how you can help support the fan-voiced coverage NDZ provides.

Author

  • Andrew Schmidt

    Eclecticist, FMFC supporter, Flock co-founder, designer of things, and taker of photos. Writer, wrench, motorcyclist. Pro-intellectualist, anti-pedant. Drinker of coffee and greeter of dogs.

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