It’s already time for Week 3 of the USL season. It kicked off with a 3-0 demolition of the Austin Aztex by Vancouver Whitecaps 2 on Wednesday night in Austin. This week, as you might have guessed, features plenty of midweek games and quite a few afternoon games, while for the first time since the season began there are no games on Sunday. Our Game of the Week is between the Tulsa Roughnecks and St. Louis FC at ONEOK Field in Tulsa on Thursday at 8 pm (ET).
Scouting Tulsa Roughnecks
After tying 1-1 with in-state rival OKC Energy, the Roughnecks return for a second consecutive home game at ONEOK Field. David Irving returned to the team he played for back in 1980 after serving as the head coach of the Wilmington Hammerheads for the past 16 years.
Tulsa outshot OKC in their inaugural game 16-9, but only 31.2 percent of those shots found the frame. Steven Miller is the Roughnecks’ most-active shooter after the first game, attempting four shots, none of which were put on frame. Brady Ballew and Laurie Bell both took three shots each, with Ballew turning a would-be cross into a goal. Adam Black did a lot of dirty work between the lines.
The Roughnecks brought an aggressive style of play to the pitch, fouling 10 times. However, they surrendered just nine shots and only two shots on goal. Unfortunately, Michael Thomas’ header found the back of the net. Zac Lubin wasn’t tested all that often, only being called into action for one save. The backline, led by Bell and Ben Brewster, was a large part of that and will hope for a repeat performance against St. Louis.
Scouting St. Louis FC
It was a rough debut for Dale Schilly and St. Louis, falling 2-0 in the inaugural King’s Cup against Louisville City FC in Week 2. Schilly is no stranger to the St. Louis soccer scene, having previously coached A.C. St. Louis back in 2010, and will hope his team finds better fortunes in their second road game.
Offensively, STLFC managed eight shots in their first-ever game. The trio of Jamiel Hardware, Jermie Lynch and Bryan Ciesiulka tallied two shots each on the road. However, the team had just a 37.5 percent shots-on-goal percentage and will need to do better when they face a suffocating defense in Tulsa that did a fantastic job of limiting quality shots at the goal.
Brandon Barklage led the defense, and even got a shot off during the game. He will need to rally the troops after a tough defeat, but with what looks to be a second-straight derby match coming up, that shouldn’t be too difficult. Between the sticks, Mark Dais recorded two saves. The defense will need to limit the amount of corner kicks it gives up, as it allowed nine corners against LCFC.
William Tomlinson has been assigned the game and will serve as the center official. The assistant referees are Ian Chapman and Joel McKell. Serving as the fourth official is Matthew Trotter.
Around the League
– Vancouver Whitecaps 2 downed the Austin Aztex 3-0 in the first game of the season. Caleb Clarke opened the scoring, the first goal in Whitecaps 2 history. Also finding the back of the net were Craig Nitti and Billy Schuler.
– Charlotte Independence plays their second Friday night game as they head to Legion Field to face the Wilmington Hammerheads. Both teams will be looking for their first win of the season as the Independence fell 3-2 to the Charleston Battery, while the Hammerheads saw a two goal lead evaporate in a 2-2 draw with the Richmond Kickers. First kick is slated for 7 pm (ET).
– The Roughnecks and Aztex play their second game of the week on Saturday at 8 pm (ET) in Tulsa’s third straight game at home. Austin will be looking to rebound after losing on Wednesday, but are 1-0-0 on the road after downing Colorado Switchbacks FC 2-0.
– Like I said in last week’s preview, we’re dealing with an incredibly small sample size, so it’s hard to truly determine any significance just yet on some of these stats.
– If you’re looking for offense, look no further than Seattle Sounders 2. As a team, they’ve averaged four goals per game on 15.5 shots per game. They’ve assisted on 62.5 percent of their goals as well, and lead the league with 21 points overall.
– Bar Trivia: Which player scored a hat trick on his USL debut? That would be USL Player of the Week Darwin Jones of SSFC2.
– Only three teams still haven’t allowed a goal yet this season: New York Red Bulls II, Louisville City and the Rochester Rhinos. The Aztex hadn’t given up a goal, but well, I’ve already beat that horse dead twice over already.
– Charleston is the king of slow starts so far this season, and it’s reflected in the fact that Odisnel Cooper is averaging 5.5 saves per game and a league-leading 11 saves total. They’ve also won two straight games by a score line of 3-2.
– Kevin Kerr and Jones both scored hat tricks, and are joint leaders with Octavio Guzman of Sacramento Republic with three on the season. Not exactly who I would have expected to be leading the golden boot race this early.
– Molham Babouli of Toronto FC II is the most active shooter in the league so far, averaging four shots per game. However, Christopher Cortez of the Orange County Blues will probably claim that spot once he gets a few games under his belt if he’s going to continue shooting seven times every outing. At least he a got a goal for his efforts.
– Through the first two weeks, the league has a total attendance of 86,422 and an average attendance of 2,881. The Roughnecks lead the league in attendance after selling out ONEOK Field to the tune of 8,335 supporters in their home opener. At the bottom of the attendance standings are RBNYII who drew in just 547 supporters in their first game.