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Preview & Scouting Report: Hounds gear up for midweek tussle in Tulsa

For the first time this season, the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC will have a super short turnaround and recovery time, as with just three full days rest between matches, they are back on the road for a midweek matchup with FC Tulsa at ONEOK Field in Tulsa, Oklahoma (8 p.m. ET Kickoff).

Tulsa is coming off its first win of the season (more on that below), while the Hounds follow up a 1-1 draw with The Miami FC in its home opener.  Riverhounds fans should expect some heavy squad rotation, as it will likely be a match where we see a number of field players making their first starts of the season.  Through the first three matches, the Hounds have gone with the same 10 field players in the starting lineup, but a handful of those players put in full 90 minute performances on Saturday night, and Head Coach Bob Lilley admitted after the match that he expects to go with a different lineup on Tuesday.

Last year was the first season Tulsa came over into the USL Championship’s Eastern Conference.  As part of in-conference balanced schedule, the two clubs met twice, with the Hounds winning both times.

The first go-around, the Hounds outlasted Tulsa, 4-3, in a wild match at ONEOK Field.

In the rematch, Albert Dikwa scored the second half game winner at Highmark Stadium.

Scouting High Scoring FC Tulsa

The Hounds aren’t the only team playing on short rest, as Tulsa is playing the middle match of a tough Saturday-Tuesday-Friday turnaround, as they have one less day to rest up for this match.

With a new season, comes a new coach again for Tulsa.  Actually, in three matches against Tulsa, the Hounds will have faced three different head coaches: Michael Nsien, Donovan Ricketts (who served in an interim role and has since reverted to his post as goalkeepers coach) and new head coach Blair Gavin.

Gavin has revved up the attack for the boys from the Oil Capitol of the World.

It’s been an adventurous start to the 2023 campaign for FC Tulsa.

If it matters, they’ve faced the two sides that the Hounds drew — Birmingham and Miami.  Tulsa had a second half lead vs Birmingham, but blew it, to fall 3-2, and in the season opener, they drew Miami, 1-1.

Tulsa will be staying home following its 3-0 win over Loudoun United FC on Saturday. Marcus Epps and Milo Yosef have two goals each to lead Tulsa, which enters the match with the most goals in the USL Championship at six through three games — one ahead of the Hounds.

In fact, Tulsa is the only club in the USLC who have multiple players to score multiple goals through three weeks.

Tulsa’s offensive accuracy has been spot on through three matches, boasting the best goals-per-shot percentage in the league (20%).

For reference, the average goals-per-shot percentage from 2015-2021 when combining the English Premier League, French Ligue 1, German Bundesliga, Italian Serie A, Spanish La Liga, and Major League Soccer, over a full season was 10%, according to American Soccer Analysis. In addition, the club has put 43.4% of its attempts on target, the fifth-best pct. in the USL Championship.

Rodrigo da Costa, who scored in last year’s match in Tulsa and has a goal and an assist this year, is one of the few familiar threats, but Tulsa went through its share of roster overhaul in the offseason.

Blaine Ferri also bagged his first goal of the season against Loudoun, one that certainly got the attention of the ONEOK Field fans!

Expect a fun tactical chess match between head coaches Blair Gavin and Bob Lilley, as Lilley do his part to draw up a lineup that will look to dictate terms of the match, while limiting Tulsa’s chances.

As previously mentioned, it will also be a really good first real test for the Hounds depth.

They Said It: Bob Lilley

“We’ll test our depth. There will be lineup changes. It’s early in the season. We’ve gone with our more seasoned guys. We’re going to learn about some guys.”

Riverhounds Projected Starting XI: 

Keeping in mind, they’ll be heavy squad rotation, here’s our best guess for the lineup…

Tulsa Roster: 


Riverhounds (1-0-2) vs. FC Tulsa (1-1-1)
Date: Tuesday, March 28
Time: 8 p.m.
Location: ONEOK Field, Tulsa, Okla.
Odds: Hounds +140 / Draw +230 / Tulsa +170 (FanDuel)
Streaming: ESPN+
Live statistics: USL Championship Match Center
Live updates: @RiverhoundsSC on Twitter
Match hashtags: #TULvPIT and #HOUNDTAHN

John Krysinsky has covered soccer and other sports for many years for various publications and media outlets. He is also author of 'Miracle on the Mon' -- a book about the Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, which chronicles the club, particularly the early years of Highmark Stadium with the narrative leading up to and centered around a remarkable match that helped provide a spark for the franchise. John has covered sports for Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, DK Pittsburgh Sports, Pittsburgh Sports Report, has served as color commentator on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC broadcasts, and worked with OPTA Stats and broadcast teams for US Open Cup and International Champions Cup matches held in the US. Krysinsky also served as the Head Men’s Soccer Coach at his alma mater, Point Park University, where he led the Pioneers to the first-ever winning seasons and playoff berths (1996-98); head coach of North Catholic boys (2007-08), associate head coach of Shady Side Academy boys (2009-2014).

Riverhounds MF Kenardo Forbes

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