In the first all-Oklahoma Open Cup match in decades (possibly ever), expansion teams Tulsa Athletics (green) battled the Oklahoma City Energy. Photo: Tulsa Athletics
A cool May afternoon served as the backdrop for the Second Round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup in Tulsa, Okla. In front of 3,834 fans (the highest attendance of the round), the Tulsa Athletics of the NPSL were hosting the Oklahoma City Energy FC (USL PRO) for the very first time as both teams made their Open Cup debuts.
It was the first Open Cup game held in Oklahoma since 1997 when Los Lobos (USASA) welcomed the Central Jersey Riptide to Tulsa for a first round game (Riptide won 1-0). 17 years later, the tournament has returned to the Sooner State.
In the end, it was the professional expansion team, Energy FC, who were too much for the amateur side as Dave Leichty and Cyprian Hedrick scored a goal in each half to win the game 2-0. The Energy now earn a spot in the Third Round where they will travel to Peoria, Ariz. to take on fellow USL PRO team Arizona United SC on May 28.
Tulsa started the match by attempting to outrun Oklahoma City, and earned themselves some solid early possession. All that possession fizzled out when the Athletics reached the attacking third of the field however, as Tulsa only managed to get one shot on goal through the entire first half.
3,834 fans showed up to watch the Tulsa Athletics and the Oklahoma City Energy play their first US Open Cup game. Photo: Tulsa Athletics
Leichty broke the deadlock in the 10th minute on OKC’s first shot of the match. From there, Tulsa’s composure began to waiver and the fouls became more common. The increased physicality of the first half culminated in the first two yellow cards of the match, issued to Kevin Howard and Ray Saari in the 26th and 38th minutes, respectively.
Tulsa began the second half with the substitution of Dave Leung for Levi Coleman and a more focused plan of attack. Physicality remained a part of Tulsa’s play, quickly earning them several fouls. Unfortunately, as in the first half, Tulsa just didn’t have any idea ideas in the final third.
Oklahoma City doubled their lead in the 68th minute when Hedrick fired home a Kyle Miller free kick. Tulsa’s composure crumbled following the goal, their play becoming even more physical and desperate.
The physicality of play intensified on both sides until the 76th minute when Dave Leung was issued a straight red after a vicious tackle. Things spiraled out of control for Tulsa from that point on, until Stephen Brocks was issued a straight red card for a challenge on OKC’s keeper while the keeper was on the ground in possession of the ball.
The match ended 2-0 in Oklahoma City’s favor, ending a 4-game losing streak in all competitions. The loss was Tulsa’s first of the year, and surely contains some hard lessons for the team of youngsters. Oklahoma City Energy FC will travel to fellow USL Pro team Arizona United SC in Round 3 on May 28.
FULL MATCH REPLAY