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Late winner pushes Union Omaha past Revolution II

Here are five thoughts from Wednesday’s fixture between Union Omaha and Revolution II.

A late winner from Greg Hurst sealed a dominant performance from Union Omaha (3-0-0) on Wednesday afternoon, propelling them past Revolution II, 1-0. With the loss, Revs II (1-2-0) sinks to eighth in the USL League One.

Clint Peay’s side lined up in a 4-3-3 formation against Omaha, featuring Academy products Joe Buck and Michael Tsicoulias in the starting lineup. Ryan Spaulding and Joe Rice also returned to the starting group after being relegated to the bench against Richmond.

Former Revolution II midfielder Nicolas Firmino also made his return to Gillette Stadium on Wednesday after signing for Union Omaha this past offseason. The Homegrown Player, who spent more than six years in the Revs Academy, played in all 16 games for Revolution II in 2020.

Here are five thoughts from Wednesday’s fixture:

1. Offensive struggles define Revs II’s loss

Aside from a few chances, Revs II failed to challenge Omaha going forward on Wednesday. Omaha is stout defensively––through three games they still haven’t conceded a goal––but their defense still conceded a few opportunities that Revs II couldn’t convert.

Damian Rivera spearheaded the two most promising offensive chances of the game for Revs II, with the Homegrown Player jumpstarting both opportunities on the dribble. He’s showing more confidence in his second season for Revs II, though he still hasn’t emerged as a robust goal-scoring threat.

Furthermore, Ryan Sierakowski and Justin Rennicks both struggled to find their rhythm in Wednesday’s fixture, though they didn’t receive much help from their teammates, either. The two forwards managed just 54 combined touches on Wednesday.

Coming off the bench, Michel offered a spark for Revs II, showing composure on the ball and an ability to break the lines. However, the Brazilian touched the ball just 31 times in 33 minutes.

“I think the ideas are there,” Revs II head coach Clint Peay said postgame. “At the end of the day, the players have to be able to execute on the field. They have to be able to, in those moments, be composed and make good decisions. And I think we’re creating opportunities. We just need to be a little sharper.”

2. Too many long balls, not enough tiki-taka

When Revs II put their foot on the ball and slowed the tempo down, the team looked impressive in possession, knocking it around the back and midfield lines with ease. However, an overreliance on long balls cut these opportunities short.

Too often, Clint Peay’s team resorted to playing long balls, resulting in 50-50 opportunities that often went Omaha’s way.

3. Jake Rozhansky shows composure, maturity in the heart of midfield

Jake Rozhansky didn’t touch the ball as much as he would’ve liked on Wednesday, but when he did, he was Revs II’s strongest player. The midfielder––who signed for Revs II on March 26 after playing for Maccabi Herzliya in Israel––earned his third straight start on Wednesday. He was also recently named team captain.

Pairing with Academy player Joe Buck in center midfield, Rozhansky was the heartbeat of the team during their limited spurts of possession. He was crisp on the ball and also shook off defenders with ease. If you watched closely, he turned his head a million times a minute throughout the game, constantly aware of his surroundings. Now that’s the sign of a good midfielder.

Based on his first three performances alone, it’s lining up to be a successful season for the University of Maryland midfielder.

4. Presley, Spaulding put in solid shifts

Sophomore Revs II players Connor Presley and Ryan Spaulding both performed well in the outside back slots this afternoon, building off their performances from last season’s campaign. Neither player is going to “wow” you with their physicality, but both are comfortable with the ball at their feet and offer energy going forward.

With Sierakowski and Rennicks in the box on attacks, finding Presley and Spaulding in wide positions going forward might unlock the Revs II’s offense. Both forwards have shown deft ability in the air, as well as strong finishing skills on lower crosses.

5. Revs II still searching for its identity*

Yes, there’s an asterisk next to this point, because with any MLS-affiliated developmental team, it’s going to be tough to establish rhythm, consistency, or identity. Those inherent consequences were on full display today.

When a team is constantly recycling its lineup, it’s undoubtedly tough on players to form bonds with their teammates. As the season continues, chemistry and collective identity should begin to take shape, but at this point in the year, these struggles are particularly pronounced.

“Moving forward, I think we’ll just look at this game as a learning moment,” Revs II goalkeeper Joe Rice said postgame. “We’ll just come into every single game just to fight.”

Revs II return to action on Sunday at 8:30 PM, hosting Chattanooga Red Wolves SC at home. The match will immediately follow the Revolution’s home contest against Columbus at 6 PM.