Week 2 Preview: what you need to know

Only 81 hours from Tulsa

UPDATE: reports out of Tulsa indicate that Rodrigo da Costa’s red card has been rescinded. That should make for a more competitive match, but the Legion should still emerge as the winners.

The 2022 USL Championship season got off to a feisty start. 30 goals across 13 games (including Dane Kelly’s league first 100th regular season goal), 4 red cards and a couple of surprise wins by Loudoun United and the Rio Grande Valley Toros. Hartford Athletic had to sit by and watch it all happen, but they finally get their season started this week. Here’s the lowdown for week 2.

The most important part

The Legion got off to a good start, facing the Eastern Conference’s likely top team in the Tampa Bay Rowdies. One of only two home teams not to win in week 1 (the other being Memphis 901, who got beat 0-3 by the Pittsburgh Riverhounds and got the weekend’s first red card to boot), the Three Sparks head to the conference’s westernmost team, FC Tulsa. Tulsa, as it happens, refers to itself as the Magic City. Of course, so does Miami. So we have a three-way derby. Should be fun.

Tulsa got off to a rough start. They are dealing with a few injuries already, and attacking center mid Rodrigo da Costa got sent off last week for a double yellow, the second of which he really should not have been given (he went into a tackle studs high but backed out of it). They lost on the road 0-1 at the Charleston Battery. Despite the red card (in the 56th minute) they had 62% of the possession, although they were backed up in their own end most of the game. Still, they got 16 shots off, but only 2 on target and both of those were late in the game (and both by right winger Joaquin Rivas).

JJ Williams made a substitute appearance for Tulsa, as of course did former Tulsa player Marlon here in Birmingham, to rather better effect than JJ (who managed no shots). A reunion is therefore about to happen.

The game kicks off at 7:30pm Saturday (ESPN+, my68). As usual for road games, the Magic City Brigade will be hosting a watch party.

Prediction: Losing da Costa is a big blow for Tulsa. The Legion controlled the midfield for almost the entire game against Tampa, and should easily dominate again this week. Scoring problems aside, this should be a Legion win.

Best of the rest

The week’s slate of games opens tonight as Atlanta United 2 host New York Red Bulls II (6:30pm) in a matchup of 2 week 1 losers. Twonited were the more impressive, holding Louisville City to just a single goal. Not a gripping midweek game, perhaps, but the Legion will of course see both these teams later in the season.

The Baby Bulls have a quick turnaround, as they play Saturday’s earliest game (12:00pm), hosting Loudoun United, who took a big win over Indy Eleven. New York will thus be the first team to 3 games, and have a chance of 0 points from them. In the only other game this weekend that does not overlap the Legion game, Detroit City (who lost but played well in San Antonio) host the Battery (3:00pm). We project both teams to end middle of the table, so this could be a pretty even and entertaining game, especially in Keyworth Stadium’s USL debut. Expect it to be full and loud.

The biggest game in the East this weekend is likely to be Lou City v. The Miami FC (Saturday, 6:30pm), so make sure to watch that one on replay. Over in the West, El Paso Locomotive look to overcome a disappointing opening week loss against Neco Brett’s New Mexico United (Saturday, 7:00pm). The nightcap game should also be a good one: San Diego Loyal v. Sacramento Republic (Saturday, 9:00pm). Sacramento are the team that beat El Paso, and the Loyal eked out a lucky win over LA Galaxy II thanks to a freak own goal deep in stoppage time.

There are no games at all on Sunday this week, so you will have plenty of time to watch all the games on replay!

The Old Country

Birmingham City are in another scoring drought, having failed to score in their last two games, including a 0-2 home loss yesterday to Middlesbrough. On Saturday (9:00am, not on ESPN+) they travel to Swansea, who are a few spots in the standings above the Blues (but have games in hand against the entire league).

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