The Roughnecks celebrate the first playoff berth in the three-year history of the franchise. (Brooke Carroll)
For the first time in the three-year history of the team, the Tulsa Roughnecks FC are going to the USL Cup playoffs. The Roughnecks survived a first-half red card and a tense final 45 minutes to defeat Seattle Sounders FC 2 1-0 Saturday night at ONEOK Field. With the victory, Tulsa guaranteed that it will finish no worse than eighth spot in the Western Conference standings.
Front page photo by Rich Crimi
It was not pretty, and it definitely wasn’t easy. The Roughnecks got the only goal of the night in the first quarter hour of the match, but everything changed with a red card in first-half stoppage time. Forced to play the entire second half with only ten men, TRFC spent most of the final 45 minutes in its half of the field. In the end, the defense held out and the Roughnecks escaped with the historic victory.
Tulsa quickly went end to end to open the scoring in the 15th minute. A perfectly executed 50-yard outlet from goalkeeper Fabian Cerda set Joey Calistri free down the left wing. After dribbling into the penalty area, Calistri’s delivery found an unmarked Christian Thierjung at the far post. At a tough angle, Thierjung tapped the ball into the open net for his third goal of the season to give TRFC the 1-0 lead.
The complexion of the match changed completely just before the 45-minute mark. Off the ball, Seattle’s Zach Mathers collided with Tulsa midfielder Collin Fernandez. Initially, no foul was called, but after the referee consulted with his assistant, Fernandez was called for a foul and was issued a second yellow card, leaving the Roughnecks to play the rest of the match a man down.
The Sounders 2 nearly leveled the score on the restart as Mathers rattled the crossbar on the free kick from just outside the penalty area. The Roughnecks cleared the rebound and held on through the seven minutes of first-half stoppage time.
The free kick from Mathers would prove to be the best chance of an equalizer for S2. Tulsa Head Coach David Vaudreuil inserted defender Jorge Corrales before the restart and defender Modou Jadama came on just seven minutes into the second half.
The Roughnecks spent almost the entire second half in their defensive end of the field. (Lori Scholl)
The Roughnecks spent almost the entire second half in their end of the field but kept the Sounders 2 from generating a good scoring opportunity despite S2 owning 85% of the second-half possession.
After a tense 45 minutes and 2 minutes of stoppage time, the referee blew the final whistle, setting off a celebration inside ONEOK Field.
“It would have been nice to have gained a playoff spot earlier, but it was nice to do it in front of our home fans,” said Vaudreuil. “I think the guys really deserved it because we have played well this year, and it was a good night for the organization.”
Vaudreuil had special thanks for the team’s supporters groups, The Roustabouts and La Union 918. “Our supporters are great, and it was fun to clinch in front of them. They have been really enthusiastic all year, and they have really bonded with the team and the staff. They are very important to us, and the team really thrives off of that.”
Tulsa has one match remaining in the regular season, next Saturday, October 14, when it hosts Colorado Springs at 7:00 pm CDT. The USL Playoffs will begin on the weekend of October 20. TRFC can finish no higher than the eighth spot, meaning it will go on the road for its first-round match. Seedings will be determined after next weekend’s matches are completed.
Tulsa Roughnecks FC 1 Seattle Sounders FC 2 0
October 7, 2017
ONEOK Field – Tulsa, OK
TUL – Thierjung (Calistri) 14’
TUL – Fernandez (caution) 11’
SEA – Wingo (caution) 19’
TUL – Ugarte (caution) 29’
TUL – Fernandez (2nd yellow/red card) 45+3’
SEA – Chenkam (caution) 49’
SEA – Nana-Sinkahm (caution) 73’
Tulsa Roughnecks FC: Fabian Cerda, Kosuke Kimura, Francisco Ugarte (Modou Jadama 53’), Bradley Bourgeois, Jaime Ayala, Jonathan Levin, Collin Fernandez, Brady Ballew (Jorge Corrales 46’), Juan Pablo Caffa©, Joey Calistri, Christian Thierjung (Joaquin Rivas 74’).
Shots: 6; Shots on Goal: 2; Saves: 4; Fouls: 8; Corners: 2; Offside: 3.
Seattle Sounders FC 2: Tyler Miller, Denso Ulysse, Brian Nana-Sinkam, Tony Alfaro, Steve Whyte, Francisco Narbon (Lorenzo Ramos 60’), Ray Saari©, Zach Mathers, Henry Wingo, Felix Chenkam (Javorn Stevens 73’), Shandon Hopeau (Charles Renken 55’).
Shots: 14; Shots on Goal: 4; Saves: 1; Fouls: 17; Corners: 9; Offside: 2.