FC Tulsa Travels to New Jersey in Search of Season Sweep of Red Bulls II
TULSA – Coming off a bye week after two of its finest defensive performances of the season, FC Tulsa is now set on getting back into the win column in a midweek road match at New York Red Bulls II. On Wednesday night, FC Tulsa will make its first-ever trip to MSU Soccer Park in Montclair, New Jersey with three points and a three-match unbeaten streak with a victory at stake.
To refresh the memory following 11 days off, the FC Tulsa defense and goalkeeper Austin Wormell starred in back-to-back home matches to kick off June as the team allowed one total goal and drew playoff contenders Tampa Bay Rowdies (1-1) and Miami FC (0-0). For his efforts, Wormell earned a spot on the USL Championship’s Team of the Week, despite playing in his first league matches all season.
While both matches resulted in a single point in the standings, it would be an understatement to say that the results were much needed. The matches marked just the second and third time since March 23 that FC Tulsa allowed one or fewer goals in a match, and the first time since the season’s opening three matches that it happened consecutively. Putting it in more perspective, FC Tulsa had allowed 26 goals over its previous nine matches, before the two June home matches against Florida teams.
At the forefront of the defensive renaissance was head coach Michael Nsien’s shift to a 3-4-3 formation, putting more defenders in front of the goal to limit opponent’s opportunities. When the ball did get through the back, Wormell, the Tulsa native, was up to the task, saving 10 of 11 shots on target over the 180 minutes.
Not only would a Wednesday win over the Baby Bulls continue that momentum, but could also help change the narrative of FC Tulsa’s season with over half of the campaign left to play.
It’s never easy facing off against an MLS 2 team, especially on the road. While New York Red Bulls II’s record of 1W-11L-2D leaves something to be desired, the Baby Bulls did just earn a 2-2 home draw against Western Conference power San Diego Loyal SC on June 2. Having the ability to send down MLS players to its USL Championship club could prove a difference maker, as FC Tulsa found out all too well last season in road defeats against Atlanta United 2 and Sporting KC 2.
Red Bulls II has been hurt this season by a league-worst offense and lackluster defense. Just nine goals scored in 14 matches is good for only 0.6 goals per 90 minutes, although New York did score twice at ONEOK Field earlier in the season. A league-high five red cards have also contributed to the Baby Bulls woes as the defense has conceded 25 goals in 14 matches.
THREE THINGS TO KNOW
1) Remembering April
FC Tulsa doesn’t have to look far for a recipe for success against NYRBII – only back to the sides’ matchup at ONEOK Field on April 2. In that match, FC Tulsa went up a man in the 2’ minute when Baby Bulls’ keeper Ioannis Nikopolidis was red carded for a tackle outside the box. Playing up a man, FC Tulsa attacked early and often, winning by a 3-2 margin which wasn’t accurate of how the true balance of play over the 90 minutes. An attack-first mindset, especially with FC Tulsa’s re-formatted backline, should prove successful given New York’s form over 2022.
2) Rediscovering the Offense
While the FC Tulsa defense showed great improvement in the 3-4-3 formation two weeks ago, it was clear that the offense was still getting comfortable in the new look, scoring just once over two matches. With 11 days more days to work out the kinks, a trip to New York is a chance to get back on track. Boasting the trio of Brian Brown, JJ Williams and Rodrigo da Costa up front, FC Tulsa has the firepower to put up goals in bunches. An offensive outbreak is coming…could Wednesday night be it?
3) Watch Party Wednesday
As fans endure a three-week gap between home matches, a slight fix for a rowdy atmosphere on Wednesday night will be FC Tulsa’s Official Watch Party at The Tulsan Bar. The match and Watch Party will kick off at 6 p.m. CT. The Tulsan Bar will have 918 Cerveza on tap for fans ages 21+ who want to enjoy the official FC Tulsa cerveza, brewed by Cabin Boys.
HOW TO WATCH
Like with every home and road match, Wednesday night’s contest will air locally on My41 in Tulsa and be streamed on ESPN+ nationally. Fans can follow @FCTulsa on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to get team news, in-game updates and match highlights.