The Monarchs head to Oklahoma for the first time this year to face the Tulsa Roughnecks FC at ONEOK Field. Tulsa started their 2017 season on the wrong foot when they were forced to forfeit their 4-1 opening day victory at home over Colorado Springs for using an ineligible player due to proper paperwork not being completed by the club.
Since that match the Roughnecks have gone 5-7-0 with a -4 goal differential. Four of their five victories have come at home and they had a three game home winning streak snapped earlier this week by the Swope Park Rangers. 13 of their 18 total goals have also been scored within the friendly confines of ONEOK Field.
Tulsa are led by Ian Svantesson, a forward who played with Seba at Rayo OKC last year, who has 5 goals and midfielders Joey Calistri and Juan Pablo Caffa who have four goals apiece. Caffa, another Argentine play maker who has a team leading 3 assists spent a part of his youth in the Spanish leagues and is the primary set piece taker.
Colin Fernandez and Bradley Bourgeois have found a home sitting deep in the midfield in front of an experienced defensive line led by MLS veteran Kosuke Kimura, Jorge Corrales and Francisco Ugarte, who leads the league in yellow cards at 8. Fabian Cerda has two clean sheets in goal and is firmly established as the first string goalie.
The Monarchs, who now trail the Charleston Battery by one goal, continue to be lead by Chandler Hoffman’s 8 goals and Sebastian Velasquez’s 6 goals. Nick Besler and Daniel Haber have added 3, while Andrew Brody, James Moberg, Taylor Peay and RSL loanee Jose Hernandez all have two goals as well. In all, thirteen players have contributed to their 33 goals.
With his recent flood of assists Sebastian Velasquez has become the assist leader in the Western Conference with 6 assists closely followed by the injured Charlie Adams with 5. Together with Andrew Brody and they remain also remain among the conference leaders in chance creation.
Six Monarchs have appeared in all 13 matches and continue to develop a chemistry which shines on the field. Nick Besler, who has played every minute this season, continues to unite a strong defensive line of Max Lachowecki, Michael Gallagher, James Moberg, and Taylor Peay. Conner Sparrow continues to impress in goal and between he and Lalo Fenandez the Monarchs have recorded five cleans sheets.
This will be the fifth meeting between Monarchs and Roughnecks and the third match in Tulsa. Both teams have a single victory in Tulsa while both matches at Rio Tinto ended as draws. The Monarchs are 1-1-2 with a -3 goal differential which is the result of a 4-1 drubbing by the Roughnecks in 2015.
What to watch for
In 2017 Tulsa has proven to be a much better team at home than on the road, but have 2-1 losses to both Sacramento and Swope Park last last Tuesday. They play for possession and are very content to control the ball in the own end and build from there.
If the Monarchs can show the possession they did against Phoenix on the road last week and exert good pressure in the middle of the field they should have a very good chance to come out of this match with points.
The Monarchs should be at nearly full strength will any suspensions and in relatively good health. Charlie Adams and Emilio Orozco have missed recent matches due to injury but seem to be on the mend. Riggs Lennon continues to be the only Monarch yet to make an appearance for the team.
Expect to see at least one or two RSL players in the 18 as the health of the parent club continues to improve and minutes become increasingly scarce for the depth of their roster.
The temperature at kickoff is predicted to be 93 degrees with about 45% humidity which is not ideal, but a major step up from the oven the Monarchs faced last week. Look for both sides to fight throughout the match with a bit of advantage for the Monarchs as Tulsa is coming in with two days less rest.
Real Monarchs: (4-2-3-1) Fernandez; Curinga, Peay, Moberg, Lachowecki; Besler, Adams; Brody, Velasquez, Haber; Hoffman
Tulsa Roughnecks FC: (4-2-3-1): Cerda; Kimura, Dekovic, Jadama, Corrales; Bourgeois, Fernandez; Calistri, Caffa, Gee; Svantesson
When: Saturday, July 1, 6:30pm MDT
Where: ONEOK Field — Tulsa, Oklahoma
Weather: 87 degrees, Cloudy