Game Day Preview: FC Tulsa v. Birmingham Legion and more

A key midweek matchup

The most important part

There’s been a a lot of water under the bridge since the Legion last played FC Tulsa back in mid-March. That was a wild 3-2 win for the Legion. Tyler Pasher put the Three Sparks in an early lead before Rodrigo da Costa and Marcus Epps scored early in the second half only for the Legion to make a late comeback with goals by Tyler again and Neco Brett. Alex Crognale assisted on the first goal, Neco on the second and Ben Reveno on the game-winner. Hmm. Tyler is likely still out injured, Alex is suspended (I think) and Ben is gone to Indy Eleven.

Tulsa have a different look too. They added Phillip Goodrum from Memphis 901 in a straight swap for…da Costa. Goodrum was famously (and justifiably) unhappy at Memphis so this made some sense. He has scored 8 goals this season, all at Tulsa, including a PK last weekend against the Tampa Bay Rowdies in a 1-2 loss. That was largely due to JJ Williams, former Legion and Tulsa player, who got an assist and a goal.

Goodrum in fact hasn’t scored in open play in the last 5 games, last doing so twice against Hartford Athletic in a stoppage time winner in a 3-2 game. The only real quality opponent he has scored against was Louisville City in his first game for Tulsa.

It’s not just Goodrum though. Tulsa as a team have some difficulty scoring, with just 29 goals in 25 games. The Legion has 33 goals in 24 games. They’ve allowed 40 (as has the Legion) for a very poor goal differential.

That being said, they did have a solid 5-game win streak going until about a month ago. Since then they have lost 3 and drawn 1. That win streak paper over some cracks, but the wins were over Detroit, Indy, Miami, Hartford and RGV. That was before Indy started looking good. The losses since have been to Tampa twice and Louisville, and the draw was with Colorado Springs.

In a nutshell, then, Tulsa is about as erratic and unpredictable as the Three Sparks. And it’s a game neither team can afford to lose. Tulsa are above the playoff line on tiebreakers only; the Legion needs to keep pace with Indy and Memphis (see below!).

Kickoff is at 7:00pm.

Prediction: The Legion has played two strong games in a row after the humiliation in Indianapolis. I expect them to ride that wave, roster issues notwithstanding. It is questionable whether newly-acquired forward Preston Tabort Etaka will be available tomorrow, though. ON the other hand, playing on that horrendous tight field at ONEOK with its blasted baseball infield is always a problem. It’s going to be a tough one, but the visitors should come home with all the marbles.

Elsewhere on Wednesday evening…

There’s a four-game slate tomorrow, with two other games in the East.

First up will be Hartford Athletic v Pittsburgh Riverhounds (6:00pm). That’s top v. bottom in the conference. Pitt beat Hartford 2-0 just 10 days ago. They need a win from this game, which seems likely. They lead the conference by only 3 points, but the Rowdies in second have two games in hand. The Hounds can’t afford to drop points against weaker opposition.

Kicking off at the same time as the Legion game is a key match: Memphis v. Indy . Indy are a point ahead of the Legion, but on one additional game. Memphis are 4 points ahead, but on one less game. The Legion still has to play Memphis twice, however. Note also that two weeks ago Memphis beat Indy 2-1 away and were on a bye this past weekend. Anything could happen here, but Legion fans are best off with a draw.

The final game of the evening will be New Mexico United v. Oakland Roots (8:00pm). Both teams are coming losses this weekend. The Roots are the stronger team by far, but a  win would put New Mexico above the playoff line.

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