Brady Ballew dribbles by a defender during Saturday's 3-1 win for TRFC. (Lori Scholl)
It was a big night for the Tulsa Roughnecks FC Saturday as they used three first-half goals to defeat the Portland Timbers 2 by a score of 3-1 at ONEOK Field. The Roughnecks got goals from Joaquin Rivas, Juan Caffa and Ian Svantesson in the first 45 minutes to collect the big three points. The result vaulted the Roughnecks into the third spot in the USL’s Western Conference.
Outside photo of Francisco Ugarte by Matt Christensen
The match began slowly with neither team making a real threat on goal, but that changed in the 17th minute when Caffa struck the post on a rebound shot. The Roughnecks quickly regained possession and left back Jorge Corrales found Rivas at the edge of the penalty area. The midfielder fired a left-footed shot by T2 keeper Wade Hamilton to give TRFC a 1-0 lead. It was the first goal of the season for Rivas.
Eight minutes later the Roughnecks added a second when T2 was whistled for a hand ball in the penalty area. Caffa stepped to the spot and buried his shot into the corner of the net to double the Roughnecks lead. For Caffa, it was his fourth goal of the season, and he is a perfect 2-2 for PKs.
If the Roughnecks had ideas of an easy victory, the Timbers 2 changed their thinking in the 35th minute. Omar Mohamed intercepted a pass from Collin Fernandez and started T2 on the counter attack. Mohamed fed Villyan Bijev who raced down the right wing before firing a shot past Roughnecks keeper Stefan Cleveland to make it 2-1.
Ian Svantesson netted his team-leading 5th goal in the match. (Brooke Carroll)
There was still one more goal in the half. Tulsa defender Modou Jadama delivered a long cross into the box that Sventesson arrived at just before Hamilton. Svantesson headed the cross over the keeper and into the empty net to put TRFC in front 3-1. It was the team-leading fifth goal of the season for the big striker.
After the break, the teams played just nine minutes before a thunderstorm moved into the downtown Tulsa area. The teams cleared the field, and affter a 1 hour 45 minute delay because of the lightning in the storm, the match finally restarted at 10:35 p.m.
Once play resumed, it was a different game with T2 controlling most of the possession. Bijev continued to cause the Roughnecks defenders problems, coming close to a second goal several times. He forced two saves from Cleveland in a span of two minutes midway through the half, and fired high on a dangerous free kick in the 71st minute.
TRFC weathered the onslaught and Cleveland made one more save on Augustine Williams in the 88th minute to close out the victory.
Cleveland was officially credited with five saves in the match in what was his professional debut. The University of Louisville product joined the Roughnecks on loan from the Chicago Fire. He was the 26th pick in this year’s MLS SuperDraft.
The victory moved TRFC up five spots in the Western Conference table, its highest standing ever after ten matches played.
Tulsa Head Coach David Vaudreuil was pleased with the big jump up the standings and with the way his team responded after his club was beaten in two straight away matches.
“I am very pleased,” said Vaudreuil. “With the two difficult road losses, this game became very important in this six-game stretch we are in. It was a team that we could not take lightly, and we came out and had a dominant first half with the three goals. We managed the game from there. After the delay, it is very easy to come out flat, but I thought we did more than enough and defended very hard.”
The lightning delay was not a new experience for Roughnecks defender Kosuke Kimura. “I experienced the same thing last year with OKC in Miami, but it was a two-hour delay,” Kimura said. “In the end, it is mental, and you just have to keep everything together. We defended well after the delay, and we got a good result.”
The Roughnecks will now turn their attentions back to the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup and a third-round meeting with San Antonio FC Wednesday night at the University of Tulsa. Kickoff is slated for 7:00 p.m. at the Hurricane Soccer and Track Stadium. Tickets are available by clicking HERE.
TRFC will return to USL regular season action on Sunday, June 11 in Kansas City for a meeting with the Swope Park Rangers.
Juan Caffa celebrates his first half penalty kick goal. (Matt Christensen)