Phoenix Rising FC travel to ONEOK Field in Tulsa, Oklahoma to play Tulsa Roughnecks FC on Saturday, July 27, 2019. It is the second and final USL Championship regular season match-up of the year between the two Western Conference clubs. To say that these two teams are at opposite ends of the standings would not quite be to tell the whole story. Phoenix not only holds a 3 point lead, and now has 2 games in hand over Reno 1868 FC, but their +35 goal difference is the best in the conference by 20. Tulsa is 2nd to last in the conference, have a -15 goal difference, and come off a disappointing loss at home to LA Galaxy II on Wednesday night. In that match they lost 3-1, which was the first time that Galaxy II had scored more than two goals in a match since April, when they scored 4 goals against none other than the Tulsa Roughnecks. Anytime you have two teams come into a match that are separated by a difference of 50 in terms of goal difference, it's going to be a mismatch on paper. Given recent form, Phoenix has won 10 straight, Tulsa is winless in their past 12, it could be an especially long night for Tulsa.
Speaking of the 10 straight wins for Phoenix, that streak ties FC Cincinnati FC league record from last season, and Phoenix will be looking to break that record Saturday. To make matters even worse for Tulsa, Phoenix hasn't played since last Friday and have a full week of rest, and Tulsa is on just 2 days rest. Field conditions on the sodded over baseball field in Tulsa are never ideal, and could slow down Phoenix's high octane attack a bit. Otherwise, there really isn't any reason to think this game won't be over until half time considering that Phoenix has the extra motivation of going for the record.
Tulsa Roughnecks vs Phoenix Rising Vital Information
Referee assignments have referee Eric Tattersall at center pitch, with Jack Ryan-Feldman and Michael Cap as the assistants, and Luis Tribaldo will be the 4th official.
This will be the 10th meeting all time between the Tulsa Roughnecks and Phoenix Rising. In the previous 9 meetings, Tulsa has won 4 times, Phoenix has won 4, and there has been 1 draw. It was a Phoenix victory in the most recent of those, 5-0, at Phoenix, back on June 7, 2019. Phoenix Rising have dominated the series since 2017, and have 4 for straight match-ups over the Roughnecks. Prior to that, Tulsa had been unbeaten against Phoenix, winning 4 times of the first 5 times the clubs met, with the other of those a draw.
Five Points That Shouldn’t be Overlooked
Tulsa is a team that has a long history in various leagues dating as far back as 1978. They are a team that you really want to root for, especially for a metro area like Tulsa that doesn't have a lot of other professional sports franchises. Unfortunately, they have been one of the worst teams in the league year in, and year out. They are the only team to have finished last in the modern USL Western Conference more than once, having done so in both 2016 and 2018. After getting off to a promising start this year they haven't won a match in over 4 months.
The loan bright spot for Tulsa over the past few weeks has been Rodrigo da Costa. He scored their only goal on Wednesday, it was his 7th of the season, tying him for the club lead. I was his 3rd goal for Tulsa in the past 7 matches. Unfortunately for Tulsa, those are the only 3 goals that they have scored in those 7 matches. It has been since June 1, 2019 against Austin Bold FC that anyone other than da Costa has scored for the Roughnecks. They have been outscored by a combined total of 21-3 during those 7 games.
With a shutout of Austin last Saturday, Phoenix goalkeeper Zac Lubin took the league lead in clean sheets with 10. He has conceded just 9 goals in 16 starts and has an 83% save percentage. He has a knack for making that jaw dropping save, while Phoenix's backline has been extremely consistent in making sure that his work has stayed limited. Phoenix had a big scare last week when defender Mustapha Dumbuya, who has been one of their best this season went down with what looked to be a serious ankle injury. Luckily, it sounds like he should be available for Saturday. Reserve forward Joey Calistri was the victim of one of the more direct red cards that you will ever see at the end of the Austin game, but it looks like his injuries are mostly cosmetic, and he should be available as well.
The top 3 scorers for Phoenix, Asante, Jahn, and Junior Flemmings have combined to score 33 goals this season. Tulsa has scored 27 goals this season. Phoenix has conceded 17 goals in 19 games this season. Tulsa has conceded 20 goals in their past 7 matches. Tulsa has not scored more than 2 goals in a game since March 23, 2019. Phoenix has scored at least 4 goals in a game 7 times over that period.
Tulsa Roughnecks vs Phoenix Rising
This is the kind of road game that can be what is known as a "trap game", but with blood in the water, and Phoenix Rising hungry for the record, that shouldn't be the case Saturday. Looking at the numbers, Phoenix has built an impressive team that is putting up numbers not often seen in a league known for its parity. Furthermore, being beaten pretty easily by a struggling Galaxy II team seems to point to the idea that Tulsa just doesn't quite have the horses. I am not going to go into a lengthy narrative about how this game is going to play out, because if it is anything other than a convincing Phoenix win, then I am going to assume a tornado came through and blew down ONEOK Stadium. Expect Asante and Jahn to each at to their impressive goal total, and Lubin to pick up his 11th clean sheet of the year. This is a team that is hungry, with many players returning from a squad that came up just one goal short of the USL Cup last season. They are playing like a team that has a chance to run the table for the rest of the season, all the way through to the final. They aren't about to get tripped up by the Tulsa Roughnecks.
Prediction: Phoenix Rising - 4 Tulsa Roughnecks - 0