The Tulsa Roughnecks FC were able to overcome playing a man short from the 16th minute for only so long, but eventually, being shorthanded caught up to them.
After taking a 2-1 lead into halftime, the overwhelmed Roughnecks wound up surrendering four goals in the second half and fell 5-2 to Saint Louis FC Saturday night in front of 4,451 at ONEOK Field.
Irvin Herrera scored four goals for St. Louis, which improved its record to 4-3-2 on the year, good for fourth place in the USL’s Western Conference.
The defeat leaves Tulsa 2-7-1, stuck in 14th out of 15 teams in the West.
Everything hinged on the controversial play in the 16th minute, with Tulsa trailing 1-0, when midfielder Iarfhlaith Davoren was ejected with a red card for a challenge on Saint Louis FC’s Drew Conner.
“It’s very difficult to play nearly 80 minutes with 10 men,” Roughnecks coach David Irving said. “All credit to us in the first half - we came back, had it 2-1 at halftime, and we knew we had a tough task. And once they got the third one, we tried to open it up a little bit and just opened ourselves up. The referee killed the game in the first 15 minutes, whatever it was, so disappointing. Then we played three in the back, we’re trying to get back in the game, and they just countered. It’s very disappointing.”
Sammy Ochoa, with his sixth goal in the last four games, and Jasson Ramos Carpio each contributed a goal and an assist for Tulsa.
Photo of Jasson Ramos Carpio by Rich Crimi
“I’m just staying hungry, moving off the ball at the right spot at the right time and putting them away,” said Ochoa of his recent hot streak. “But the results are not there and that’s what we want. Hopefully the results will come and I keep scoring.”
In its first home game since Apr. 23, after going 1-3-0 in the four intervening road matches, not including 2-0 loss to the PDL’s Des Moines Menace Wednesday night in U.S. Open Cup action, Tulsa got off to a disappointing start.
STLFC struck first, taking a 1-0 lead just 10 minutes into the match when Mike Ambersley delivered a cross from the right wing into the box, where Herrera headed it home from 12 yards out.
The entire complexion of the contest then changed six minutes later when Davoren was sent off.
“I didn’t think it was a red card,” Irving said. “It was a little harsh, so early in the game. It wasn’t a slide tackle. That’s two home games we had to play 10 men, it’s not good. It just seems that everything we’re trying to do is not going our way. We scored two goals but we still lose. Very disappointing.”
The visitors surged with the momentum after that, dictating play for the next 10-plus minutes or so, looking to be in complete control.
But the Roughnecks capitalized on their next opportunity and swung the momentum back in their favor. Ramos Carpio tied the contest in the 29th minute when he made a slick move to evade a Saint Louis defender and cut back into the middle from deep on the right side of the goal. He sent a 5-yard shot toward the goal from about 10 yards off the right post and it squeezed through Saint Louis goalkeeper Mark Pais (who has some local ties, playing a year for TU) and just over the line.
Tulsa continued to press and nearly took the lead seven minutes later when Kaleem lofted a 20-yard shot that Pais deflected just over the crossbar.
Then one minute after that, Tulsa grabbed a 2-1 lead on Ochoa’s sixth goal in the last four USL contests. Ramos Carpio sailed a corner kick into the goalie box and Ochoa was there, 5 yards out for the header, which bounced off Pais and in, just inside the left post.
Saint Louis drew level at 2-2 in the 53rd minute when Ambersley fed a quick pass from the right side into the middle, where Herrera’s outstretched foot re-directed it from 8 yards out past Tulsa goalkeeper Jake Feener into the upper left corner.
It was the next goal, in the 71st minute, which really did in the Roughnecks. Jamiel Hardware fed a pass from the end line on the right side of the goal back to Herrera in the middle, and from about 10 yards out, Herrera drilled a one-timer into the upper left corner.
Photo right by Rich Crimi
Tulsa began to take some chances offensively to push for the equalizer, and nearly got it just two minutes later, but Pais made an outstanding save. Gary Cennerazzo’s 20-yard blast appeared headed for the upper right corner, but Pais leapt up to punch it just over the crossbar.
Saint Louis then capitalized on the counter-attack in the 78th minute, as Brandon Barklage fed a nice lead pass up to Herrera, who raced in alone on Feener and slotted a low shot from 10 yards out just inside the right post to make it 4-2.
The visitors then got another one in the 84th minute off a free kick from 30 yards out, that was volleyed from former Roughneck Chad Bond across to a charging James Musa, whose shot from 5 yards out beat Feener just over the goal line.
“You can’t play with 10 men for 80 minutes, they just wear you down,” Irving said. “We got back into it, we showed a lot of character, and then once they got the third one, we got to open it up to try to get back in the game, but they just broke us.
“Very disappointing, especially for the fans. I know the players are disappointed. Everything went well last year, that’s just football. We have to keep going, we have to keep playing and we’ve got to keep working at it. Very disappointed.”
After playing five matches in the past 17 days, the Roughnecks will now have two full weeks to regroup, as they are not scheduled to play again until hosting intra-state rival Oklahoma City Energy FC on Sat., June 4 at ONEOK Field at 7:00 p.m.