Game Report by John Tranchina
It was a difficult night for the Tulsa Roughnecks FC, as they fell 2-0 to the Portland Timbers 2 Saturday night in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 4,078 at ONEOK Field.
After winning their season opener 2-0, the Roughnecks are now winless in their last four (0-3-1), and have scored just once in those matches. Overall, Tulsa drops to 1-3-1 on the season, 1-3-0 on its home field, and 0-3-0 all-time against Portland, who improved to 2-4-0.
Things don’t get any easier for the Roughnecks, as they will play their next four on the road.
“Very disappointing,” said Tulsa head coach David Irving. “We’ve put ourselves in an awful situation because now we’ve got four games away, which is difficult. Very disappointed. I thought we could have done something in the game tonight, but we gave two soft goals away. And if you look at all the goals that we’ve let in so far at home, they’re very similar. We’ve got to be stronger in the tackle, and we’re not, so we’re being punished at the minute. Last year, we could score goals for fun, and we’re having a tough time scoring at the minute. That’s disappointing. We’ve got to be better, that’s all there is to it.”
Photos by Rich Crimi
The Timbers 2 took control of the game by scoring four minutes apart midway through the opening half.
Kharlton Belmar made it 1-0 in the 22nd minute after intercepting Roughneck defender Matt Whatley’s clearance attempt and then rolling a low shot from 20 yards out past goalkeeper Alex Mangels just inside the right goalpost.
Portland took a two-goal lead on Andre Lewis’ goal in the 26th minute on a similar play. This time, Mason Grimes’ clearing attempt was stolen by Lewis and seconds later, he drilled a 20-yard bomb into the upper right corner, off the underside of the crossbar and in.
“It’s the same type of goals that we’ve let in all year – not clearing the ball, nobody’s strong enough on the tackle and it kind of goes to them, and they shoot from 25 yards,” Irving said. “That’s football. And at the other end, we’re huffing and puffing and not getting clear chances, some poor passing in the final third. We’ve got to be a little tougher in the tackle, we’ve got to win second balls and we’ve got to be a little more aggressive. It’s a combination of a couple of things, but it’s disappointing.”
Tulsa continued to have difficulty dealing with Portland’s team speed, and the Timbers 2 nearly made it 3-0 in the 42nd minute, but Mangels came up with an outstanding, leaping save to prevent Dylan Damraoui’s corner kick from curling inside the far post.
The Roughnecks had their best scoring opportunity of the night in the 58th minute when Brady Ballew, who had just entered the match two minutes earlier, chased down a long lead ball from Iarfhlaith Davoren. As Ballew entered the box alone, Portland goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh charged out and made a sliding save on Ballew’s point-blank shot.
Portland almost got another one in the 71st minute, but Villyan Bijev’s shot from 15 yards out sailed just over the crossbar.
TRFC had another good chance in the 80th minute as Ballew delivered a cross into the penalty area, where Sammy Ochoa, back in the lineup after serving a one-game suspension, leapt up and knocked a header over the crossbar.
Mangels came up with a nice save about 30 seconds later, getting his hand on a shot from Bijev to deflect it over the crossbar. The Tulsa goalkeeper, who entered leading USL in saves, wound up with four total saves in the match.
Over the final minutes, including five-plus minutes of stoppage time, the Roughnecks had a difficult time mounting significant pressure on the Timbers and did not generate any more shots on goal.
Overall for the night, they forced McIntosh into making just two saves and were shut out for the third straight contest.
“We are going through a dry spell, but we’re working really hard,” said forward Taylor Morgan of the offensive struggles. “If we keep doing the same things, hopefully we’ll go on a spree. We’re getting in the right positions and we’re working hard to get there, but the end bit wasn’t quite there.”
The Roughnecks wore their third, red kits for the game, replicating the home uniforms that the original Roughnecks wore during their first season in the old North American Soccer League back in 1978.
While TRFC did get Ochoa and defender Anthony Peters, who missed the previous three games due to a head injury, back on the pitch, they were missing defender Raymond Lee, who sat out with a groin muscle strain that forced him out of the previous contest against St. Louis FC, and forward Christian Mata. After missing the first three games with an ankle sprain, Mata returned to play the final 10 minutes of the last game against St. Louis FC.
“We’ve had injuries, but no excuses,” Irving said. “We’ve got to buck up and give somebody else an opportunity. We need a little luck for a goal and it’s not going our way at the moment, but we’ve got to make it go our way.”
The Roughnecks start their stretch of four straight road games with a date next Saturday, April 30, against USL expansion side San Antonio FC, who are 1-2-2 following a 1-0 loss to Colorado Springs. Tulsa won’t be back home until May 21 when St. Louis FC visits ONEOK Field at 7:00 p.m.