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Tulsa Roughnecks 2-2 Louisville City

Louisville City finally managed to get a result off of a short rest, drawing Tulsa 2-2 Saturday night at ONEOK Field, but the Royals’ chances of catching Rochester in the table slipped a bit in the process. Coach O’Connor put a new starting eleven out, with Sean Reynolds, Kevin Cossette, Nate Polak and Guy Abend in place of usual starters Tarek Morad, Charlie Adams, MAG RAM and Juan Guzman. While many were nervous about the changes in light of the way similar moves affected City’s performance against Montreal earlier this month, Morad and Guzman have each played over 1,800 minutes on the season and probably could have used the rest.

The game kept a fairly frenetic pace throughout, at least partially due to the fact that the field was so short. Neither team settled into possession for the first fifteen or so minutes. In the 19th, though, Louisville earned a free kick from about 25 yards out. Aodhan Quinn lined it up and hit a perfect bending ball over the Roughnecks defensive wall to the right upper 90 of Jake Feener’s goal. Feener never had a chance to save it, and City was up 0-1.

About that shot: it’s got to be a Goal of the Year candidate. For the whole league. I’ll have a tough time choosing between that one and Kadeem’s equalizer early in the year against Pittsburgh, but only one of those two made the SportsCenter Top 10:

Now a goal down, Tulsa pressed for an equalizer through the middle of the field. They got one, albeit off a set piece, in the 34th minute when Chad Bond hit a diagonal free kick near the halfway line to Kyle Venter, who streaked past Kevin Cossette toward the back post and headed the ball in.

In the second half, the game was much the same, with both teams trying to play long balls forward to get behind each other’s defense. Tulsa made it work first in the 75th minute. City turned the ball over near midfield and took a shot from just outside the penalty area which Scotty Goodwin could only bat away. Sammy Ochoa collected the rebound and hit a cross to the middle of the six yard box that an unmarked Cristian “Not Juan” Mata easily headed into the back of the net. Ochoa sucked three Louisville City defenders, all of whom were watching the ball, with him on the play to free up Mata.

The Royals didn’t waste much time finding their own leveler, though. Building out of the right flank, Guzman, who was subbed on for Abend earlier, hit a diagonal ball to another sub, Ilija Ilic, who headed the ball backwards toward yet another sub, Niall McCabe, who rifled the ball on his first touch into the back of the net. McCabe wouldn’t celebrate, though, and instead urged his teammates back to try and pick up the game winner.

Both teams had good chances to take the three points in the last ten minutes of the game, but neither could capitalize, and the game ended 2-2. Louisville City is still undefeated when they score first in a match. Both teams could have used the points, though Tulsa’s hold on sixth place in the West became even more precarious. City is fairly safely in 2nd at this point, but a Rochester win over the Wilmington Hammerheads on Saturday night extended their lead in the standings to five points with six games left for both teams to play.

Some other notes:

  • Man that field was short. Slugger’s not particularly deep, but I know I saw Scott Goodwin punt at least two balls that Tulsa’s keeper basically fair caught in his own penalty area.
  • Tulsa: not a real city.
  • Kique Montano has really settled into his left back role well.
  • Tulsa’s halftime show featured a t-shirt cannon, a hype man, and some fox or coyote mascot. No comment.
  • I was really hoping for the mariachi band to show up in the supporters section again, but they must’ve had a gig at Chili’s or something.