A Controversial Red Card to da Costa in the 56′ Steals the Storylines
MT. PLEASANT, S.C. – An early goal allowed in the first half and a questionable refereeing decision in the second felled FC Tulsa in its season opener against the Charleston Battery 1-0. Augustine Williams scored the lone tally for Charleston in the 10′ minute and any hope of a Tulsa rally was snuffed out when Tulsa’s Rodrigo da Costa was shown a second yellow for a called foul where almost no contact was made.
It was a very uncharacteristic weather night in Charleston, which resulted in gusty winds and temperatures in the 40’s for kickoff on the East Coast. FC Tulsa played into the wind in the first half and were hit early on a Charleston counter attack.
In the 10′ minute, the Battery broke away on a 2-on-1 and capitalized as Williams slotted home his chance in alone against FC Tulsa keeper Sean Lewis. That score held until the break as Tulsa went into the locker room down a goal.
Disaster struck early in the second half. In the 56′ minute, da Costa and former teammate Matt Sheldon went up for a 50/50 ball. Already on a yellow card, da Costa shied away from contact as Sheldon jumped into his back. Unfortunately for Tulsa, the referee questionably interpreted the contact as coming from da Costa, and the Brazilian was given a second yellow and ejected from the match.
Down a man for more than 30 minutes, FC Tulsa continued looking for an equalizer and actually controlled more of the chances in the final third of the match. However, the goal never came, and FC Tulsa dropped its season opener for the first time since 2018.
THREE TAKEAWAYS FROM THE LOSS
1) Match-changing Decision
The decision to show Rodrigo da Costa a second yellow card ultimately cost FC Tulsa a chance at a result on Saturday. With the advantage of the wind at its back, FC Tulsa was dominating the second half before da Costa’s sending off. To say it was a “questionable decision” is an understatement. As it stands, da Costa will miss FC Tulsa’s home opener due to the two yellows (and subsequent red) he was shown by the referee. Due to the questionable nature of the call, FC Tulsa can appeal the decision and if successful, it would allow da Costa to play next Saturday.
2) Several Team Debuts
Seven different players made their FC Tulsa debuts on Saturday night in Charleston as Brian Brown, JJ Williams, Machuca, Petar Čuić, Gabi Torres, Ronald Rodríguez and Adriàn Diz Pe all claimed their first appearance in Tulsa gold. In particular, the three new faces on the backline all performed admirably in limiting the Charleston chances. Rodríguez, Torres and Diz Pe should get plenty of minutes this season.
3) Silver Linings
Despite playing more than a third of the match down a man, FC Tulsa controlled most aspects of the match, outside of the scoreboard. Tulsa owned a 62%-38% advantage in possession while outshooting Charleston 17-9. Tulsa’s defense limited the Battery to just one shot on target, the goal scored in the 10′ minute.
FC Tulsa allowed an average of 2.5 goals in losses in 2021 and only suffered two 1-0 losses last year. More defensive performances like Saturday should keep FC Tulsa competitive throughout 2022.
FC Tulsa heads back to Tulsa for its 2022 Home Opener next Saturday night at ONEOK Field where a large crowd is expected. Birmingham Legion will come to town, a team that FC Tulsa played twice in Tulsa last season, resulting in a win and a draw. Kickoff for Saturday’s match is 7:30 p.m. CT.