Preview: FC Tulsa at San Antonio FC, Saturday, October 16, 7:30 p.m.
San Antonio, Texas - They say everything is bigger in Texas, and FC Tulsa needs a result as sizable as the Lone Star State on Saturday night to keep pace with Memphis 901 FC in the standings.
For the first time since early August, FC Tulsa finds itself below the third spot in the Central Division following Memphis's victory over Louisville City FC on Wednesday night. While both clubs have a 96% chance of making the Playoffs according to FiveThirtyEight, earning the right to travel to the second seed from the Atlantic Division instead of the first seed is a monumental advantage. FC Tulsa needs a victory to reclaim the third spot and will have to do so against some stout competition.
FC Tulsa and San Antonio FC are no strangers to one another. The two clubs had been in the Western Conference together since the inception of San Antonio FC in 2016, and even when the USL Championship format changed in 2020 due to the shortened season, the two clubs ended up in Group D. Both would go on to advance from the group and earn their respective spots in the Playoffs following the regular season.
In club history dating back to the Roughnecks days, FC Tulsa has not matched up well with the club from the Alamo City as evident by its 3W-7L-3D all-time record against San Antonio FC. In three matchups between the two in 2020, all three possible results were obtained by each club - a win, a loss, and a draw. FC Tulsa has never won a match in San Antonio, something head coach Michael Nsien and company will be set on changing this Saturday.
FC Tulsa managed to break its streak of 396 minutes without a goal from the run of play last weekend courtesy of Rodrigo da Costa's ninth score of the season, but the club will likely need more than just one goal to beat San Antonio FC who boasts two elite strikers and one of the best offenses in the league.
Kickoff from Toyota Field is slated for 7:30 p.m. CT.
SCOUTING SAN ANTONIO FC
San Antonio FC is a club built on shooting and physicality. Entering with a 5W-1L-1D record over its last seven matches, San Antonio finds itself tied for 13th this season in goals scored with 44 but is second in the League in shots taken with 407. The FC Tulsa defense will likely see a flurry of attempts on goal in this matchup. San Antonio also likes to counter-attack with physical, aggressive play. It is first in the USL Championship in fouls, second in yellow cards, and tied for first in red cards.
The Texas club prefers to control the first half with physical play before its offense erupts in the second half to score in bunches. The opposition must play a full 90 minutes when matched up with San Antonio FC as 20 of its 44 goals (45.4%) have come in the final 30 minutes of matches this season.
Nathan leads the club with 10 goals and notched a brace last time out vs Memphis to hit double digits. Marcus Epps's assist tally leads San Antonio with four, and keeper Matt Cardone has 85 saves in 28 appearances this season, good for a 72% save pct. to go along with eight clean sheets.
Da Costa Strikes Again
Rodrigo da Costa's goal in the last match tied him with DarÃo SuÃ¡rez for the club lead with nine goals, a record that da Costa had held himself for the majority of the season. However, da Costa had been primarily playing more as a defensive midfielder and set up man rather than a true 10 as he had been early on in the season, leading to a drop-off in goals for the Brazilian since July. It had been 12 scoreless matches in a row for da Costa, the longest goalless streak in his three-year USL Championship career.
Nine And Four
FC Tulsa has two legitimate standouts on its roster in 2021 that can both score and set up teammates. Rodrigo da Costa and DarÃo SuÃ¡rez each have nine goals and four assists this season, tying each other for the club lead in both stats. FC Tulsa is the only club in the USL Championship with two players to have at least nine goals and four assists. There are only 10 players in the league to achieve that feat this season and two of them are da Costa and SuÃ¡rez.
With a 96% chance to make the Playoffs according to FiveThirtyEight and a Magic Number of just 7 to clinch a spot in November, FC Tulsa is in a great spot heading into the final two weeks of the season. Any combination of FC Tulsa earning points and OKC Energy FC dropping points contributes to that Magic Number.
HOW TO WATCH
Stream: ESPN+ (US), YouTube (International)
Follow: You can follow @FCTulsa on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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