Fletcher Sharpe’s Detroit City FC at FC Tulsa pre-match notes & prediction

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Rough luck Roughnecks

Formerly the Tulsa Roughnecks until 2019, FC Tulsa (3-0-6) comes into this match against Detroit City (5-2-1) on a five game losing streak, including four straight league losses.

All of their losses have seen them give up at least two goals. So they see this game as a chance to try and fix their season so far against a tired, but quality Detroit.

Tulsa has three players to watch:

  • They’re led by J.J. Williams who is currently scoring at a career record pace. With four goals in the last five games and 17 in his USL Championship career, he’s in great form even if his team isn’t.
  • Rodrigo Da Costa. He’s the straw that stirs the Tulsa attack, their most consistent player since arriving in Oklahoma.
  • Gabriel Torres, the Brazilian left back formerly of the hapless Hartford Athletic, may get a chance to shine as his player rating is an impressive 7.40, good for 37th in the league.

Injuries, Injuries, INJURIES

On the podcast I said that a very short Detroit lineup (18 players, before these transfers in) cannot afford to get hurt. They must have heard me say this and went, “oh you mean one injury a game?!”

Fans should be well aware of what happened to Brad Dunwell against Atlanta United 2, and Le Rouge will be without him in the midfield for awhile.

Francis Atuahene was hit with a niggling injury that kept him out for a minute to start the year, and Billy Forbes picked up a mystery injury that derailed his early season start as well.

I was encouraged to see DCFC get these two attack players back. But the victory against New York Red Bulls 2 produced three injured players that they can’t afford to lose in Pato Botello Faz, Antoine Hoppenot, and Maxi Rodriguez.

While it appeared Hoppenot only suffered a cramp, the other two seemed fine until it was time to come off, quickly changing their appearances as they left the pitch.

Hopefully they are able to give some minutes if needed, but my much bigger hope is that they are not needed for this match.

Karl Ouimette (via Twitter)

New faces in new places

Speaking of the roster, it’s now up to 20 people after Detroit completed a trade with Birmingham Legion for backup forward Amadou Macky Diop and a loan transfer with Indy Eleven to bring in very dependable centerback Karl Ouimette from Indy Eleven.

I’m very high on the Ouimette loan as it allows Michael Bryant to play midfield more often. That position is more natural for Bryant and he has seemed to get back to the form that drew Detroit’s eyes to him in the first place.

Having fallen out of the rotation in Indianapolis, he was relegated to the bench with only 3 appearances this season, with one being their US Open Cup match.

Ouimette offers another calming pair of feet at the back who has played under Coach Trevor James in the past. One of the more iconic names in Indy Eleven history, Detroit fans should hope he can recapture some of his form of old before he is recalled to the Boys in Blue at the end of the season.

On the flip side, I feel pretty weird about the Macky Diop trade.

Unlike Ouimette, Legion fans were happy to see him go. I know Detroit needs bodies — but do they need those who aren’t producing at a high level? M. Diop has one goal this year, and only 10 in 39 matches?

We’ve also had a chance to see him with the eye test when Birmingham came to Detroit in a 1-0 victory for Le Rouge. He did not impress, and the analytics back that up. To put in perspective how much he didn’t, the average player gets a standard 6.0 rating before matches start. He came on as a sub in the 66th minute and finished with a rating of 5.8.

I hope to be wrong and see an uptick this season. Hopefully, Detroit fits him better.

Detroit’s own Dethroner

I’ve been on an Ancestry.com kick and looking up names. Especially ones with African roots. One of my kitten’s middle names is Balogun, which is Nigerian for “Warlord,” and it fits because he’s always trying to fight another cat.

I looked up a few surnames on Detroit’s roster and one that caught my eye was Atuahene’s meaning. It literally is “Dethroner” from Atu (to remove) and Ahene (meaning kings).

A conqueror in so many words, and he finally conquered that big gorilla on his back of 783 days between goals scored.

Considering that he led the league in shots per 90 minutes at 4.6 with a conversation rate of 8% (was 5 and 0% until last match), you hope this sees him dethrone more kings of the opponents net, and get back to the electric Francis we all knew and love at Michigan and the Bucks.

One of DCFC’s boogeymen returns

I didn’t mention this next guy before since he’s not having a great year, but he deserves an infamous mention now.

Lifelong Detroit City FC fans have three players who strike a strong emotion when mentioned.

Tommy “Double Birds” Schmitt of AFC Cleveland; the immortal Vinny Bell of AFC Cleveland and Cleveland SC; and former AFC Ann Arbor winger and one of the most creative players I’ve seen with my own eyes, Pedro Dario Suarez Castro, nicknamed “Super Dario.”

During his two year stint for The Mighty Oak of Ann Arbor, he scored 11 goals in 17 matches, with three against Detroit.

That said, Dario’s season so far is not working out as well. After piling in 17 goals and five assists in the past two years for Tulsa, he currently only has one goal and no helpers in eight games.

A relatively down season for the former Cuba international player, but always the dangerous one. Keep an eye out 92 on the left wing.

Prediction

Fatigue will factor into this one. Tulsa has 26 rostered players, so expect to see some rotation in the lineup. Detroit will probably go with their standard lineup we’ve seen all season. Coach James doesn’t try to fix what’s not broken.

I do expect to see some game time for Ouimette and Macky Diop as they cannot play in the USOC match (they’re already rostered with their former teams so can’t play for DCFC in the tournament).

Hopefully DCFC’s dinged up roster found the secret Lazarus Pit buried under the City Fieldhouse and recover quickly, or even better — Le Rouge can find a way to give them some rest.

Tulsa has not been good defensively the past two years, and their offense has usually been able to bail them out.

I hope Atuahene’s goal in the last game is more of what’s to come for opposing defenses. Having him become a potent goalscorer would be useful in a season that’s far longer than the NISA days.

I think Detroit keeps this run going, winning 3-1 over Tulsa, suffering only a scratch from JJ Williams/Dario Suarez.

Then, we can look forward to another big Tuesday in Keyworth history.

Watch the game on ESPN+ at 8:30pm Eastern Time.

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