The Red Wolves hosted the club’s second ever playoff matchup on Saturday night welcoming Union Omaha for the first round of the USL League One Playoffs. The defending champions got the first efforts on goal early in the match, with Carlos Avilez producing two strong saves in goal to keep the Red Wolves level. The hosts would settle in and control the following fifteen minutes, with club captain Jose Carrera-Garcia producing a shot on target and Jimmie Villalobos just barely missing the target on a shot just minutes later following a brilliant one-two with Rey Ortiz in the 20th minute.
Union Omaha would begin to ask questions of the Red Wolves with two more fantastic saves from Avilez in goal sandwiching a couple of chances for Rey Ortiz who looked bright late on. The Red Wolves dominated possession in the first half holding over 60% of the ball, and despite creating several good chances were unable to find the breakthrough with the sides heading into the locker room tied at 0-0 in an intense affair.
The second half would begin the same way the first half did with both sides attempting to gain a strong foothold in the match. The Red Wolves would be the first to make changes in the match as Coach Weekley made a double substitution in the 58th minute, bringing on Rafa Mentzingen and Juan Galindrez in place of David Texeira and Rey Ortiz.
Aaron Lombardi would nearly break the deadlock in the 62nd minute, as he sent a thunderous left footed strike from outside of the box whizzing at goal, but his effort went just over the crossbar of the Omaha goal. The visitors would respond with a spell that would see a decent amount of possession and an effort towards goal, but the next big chance would once again fall to the hosts. Juan Galindrez would get on a pass from Josue España in the middle of the box and his effort so nearly tucked under the crossbar but instead went just over.
Union Omaha would make a double change in the 80th minute and the Red Wolves responded three minutes later with their own change, bringing on Alex Tejera in place of España. Avilez would make another great save in the 87th minute and the Red Wolves would make a fourth change on the cusp of extra time, bringing on DJ Benton in place of a hobbled Nico Cardona.
Per USL League One Playoff rules, the match would head into extra time with the match level following 90 minutes, and the hosts would find the breakthrough in the first period via a moment of individual brilliance. Rafa Mentzingen would latch onto the ball in the middle of the park, make a superb solo run and fire a wonder-goal into the top corner to beat Nuhu in goal.
The second half of extra time would see two changes for the Red Wolves, with Ivan Gutierrez replacing Moe Espinoza at the start and Ualefi replacing Jimmie Villalobos in the 113th minute. The hosts would fight valiantly in the last fifteen minutes to keep Omaha from finding any real chances, and secure the club’s second playoff win in USL League One. Carlos Avilez made five massive saves behind a brilliant performance from himself and the backline, while Mentzingen’s goal of the season candidate was enough to carry the Red Wolves past the defending league champions.
The Red Wolves will travel to Richmond for the semifinals of the USL League One playoffs to face the first placed Richmond Kickers on Oct. 29th at 6 ET.