Brian Brown and Ronald Rodríguez Lead FC Tulsa to Victory and the Third Round of the U.S. Open Cup
TULSA – On a historic night in the annals of Tulsa soccer, there was to be no Cupset. It got a bit nervy at the end, but FC Tulsa handled its business, beating Tulsa Athletic by a scoreline of 2-1 in the Tulsa Derby Open Cup matchup. First time FC Tulsa goalscorers Brian Brown, Ronald Rodríguez put FC Tulsa on top early and the home team coasted through much of the final 70 minutes.
A late Athletic goal in the 77′ minute scored by second half substitute Billy Nzojyibwami, gave fans in green something to cheer about, but it wasn’t enough after Tulsa dominated the opening 75 minutes.
With 67% of the possession, 22 shots and 86% passing accuracy, FC Tulsa showed its class through the 90 minutes of the match. While it could have been more, two goals in the opening 20 minutes were ultimately enough to survive and advance.
Returning to the Starting XI on Tuesday, center forward Brian Brown tallied only five minutes into the first half on a lunging redirection of a Jorge Corrales cross to put FC Tulsa in front. In the 18′ minute FC Tulsa struck again, this time from an all Salvadoran set piece. A corner kick sent into the box by forward Joaquín Rivas found the head of center-back Ronald Rodríguez who calmly put it past the Athletic keeper.
The two “La Selecta” stars just returned to Tulsa last Thursday following three appearances each for El Salvador in World Cup Qualifying. Like Brown, it was Rodríguez’s first goal in a Tulsa uniform since joining the club as an offseason signing.
Tulsa Athletic keeper Bryson Reed made six saves, keeping FC Tulsa off the scoreboard in the final 72 minutes, but the damage had been done and the home team avoided the upset.
Now FC Tulsa will wait for Friday’s Third Round Draw to find out its next Open Cup opponent and location.
Here are three (plus a bonus!) takeaways after the win.
1)TULSA SOCCER HISTORY
Regardless of the scoreline, the U.S. Open Cup provided a night for all Tulsa soccer fans to enjoy, with plenty of fans at ONEOK wearing both gold and green. On a Tuesday night, more than 2,300 partook of the first Tulsa Derby in history and both sides had goals to cheer about. While Tulsa Athletic won’t advance with the loss, the amateur side made their fans proud with 90 minutes of solid soccer.
2) SALVADORAN CONNECTION
The match-winning goal came courtesy of FC Tulsa’s two El Salvador internationals on a corner kick. Joaquín Rivas found Ronald Rodríguez for the first all El Salvador goal in FC Tulsa history, but likely not the last. Head coach Michael Nsien deployed the Salvadorans in the Starting XI and the move paid off. The chemistry between the two players is clear and should continue to pay dividends as the season progresses.
3) SURVIVE AND ADVANCE
FC Tulsa will have to wait until Friday’s U.S. Open Cup Third Round Draw to find out its opponent and where it will play in the next round. There is a possibility FC Tulsa will draw one of 17 MLS teams which will enter the competition in the next round. In franchise history, FC Tulsa has played just one MLS team in a competitive match, a 2-1 loss to FC Dallas in the Fourth Round of the 2017 Open Cup.
BONUS) FC TULSA ACADEMY HISTORY
In the 78′ minute, Academy player Aimar Membrila made FC Tulsa history when he subbed into the match. It was the first time an Academy player had appeared in a competitive match in club history. A local Tulsa youth soccer player, Membrila savored the moment after the match, signing autographs and taking pictures with family, friends and fans.
FC Tulsa is right back to USL Championship play on Saturday at ONEOK when it hosts Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in a battle of teams near the top of the Eastern Conference. Pittsburgh is unbeaten in league play with a 3-0-1 record, sitting second in the East, one point ahead of Tulsa. It will be a day game, with kickoff at 1 p.m. CT to enjoy the spring sunshine.