Tulsa Roughnecks head coach David Irving and his assistant Tom Taylor have been far and wide during the off season in their recruitment of talent ahead of the 2016 USL Season. In addition to their scouting trips in the United States, they have also traveled across the Atlantic to England, Ireland and Malta to look for potential players, while also continuing to grow their network with professional clubs in Europe.
(Embed interview: https://youtu.be/YiQ0Q-CaHZs )
“It’s a busy time of the year for us trying to find new players for the club and a great opportunity for me to see players from this side of the world,” said Irving. “Not only that but we have had the opportunity to visit a lot of different club’s training sessions and matches to keep refreshing ourselves with different ideas as we observe how are doing things over in Europe. Lots of things are very similar to what we do, but it has been interesting to see the different opinions and how clubs are operating everything from the youth academy up to the first teams in the UK and Ireland.”
Both Irving and Taylor have had a busy few weeks travelling from the MLS Combine in Florida to Malta, England and then finally Ireland where they will be watching games and trainings at Premier sides Shamrock Rovers, Bray Wanderers and Cork City.
They will also take the opportunity while in Ireland to look at a number of free agent players who are in search of professional contracts for the 2016 season. A similar recruitment trip last year yielded instant success through the signing of first team regular Iarflaith Davoren (Dav), and the pair hope for similar success this time round.
“Dav had good experience in the League of Ireland prior to coming to play for us last season, but it was important to get to know his mentality and see him in person while we spent time in Dublin last winter. Hopefully, we can find one or two more like him while we are out in Europe,” said Assistant Head Coach Taylor. “There are many players out here who are looking to find a chance to break into the American game so we are hopeful of finding some key additions to our squad while we are out travelling and watching games around these different countries.”
After Coach Irving left the MLS Combine, he headed to English League One side Walsall FC where he observed a number of European free agents looking for a contract in the USA. Irving’s trip also saw him visit St. Georges Park, home of the England National Team, to view the Nike Academy. He later visited Championship club Brentford FC in London.
“It was kind of Dean Smith to let us visit their training ground and view how the club operates on a daily basis,” said Irving. “He only began as Brentford’s head coach last month, so it was good for him to show us around and speak with some of the key people running the club. It always opens your eyes to see the differences from your own club, as well as trying to compare the level of play and similarities. We got to take in the U21 game vs Colchester and spoke with them about potential player exchanges and other ideas. Overall it has been a really productive time out here and we will take lots of different things back with us to Tulsa from this trip.”
The coaching staff will return to Tulsa in early February as they start to finalize their roster for the start of pre-season on February 22. The off season has already seen them resign key players such as Rookie of the Year finalist, Brady Ballew, Cristian Mata and top scorer, Sammy Ochoa.
“We have a good 10 or 11 players returning from last season as well as 4 or 5 new players that we have agreed deals with for this season,” added Irving. “The next few weeks we will be looking to find the final few pieces to the puzzle and be looking at a number of players in different areas. We are in Europe now, where one or two guys have taken our eye, but we will then be heading to Atlanta, Georgia from February 6-8th to look at players based in the southeast who are keen at looking to earn a spot on the Roughnecks roster."
For more details on upcoming tryouts please visit our tryouts page.
The Atlanta Combine will be ran by Pro Soccer Consulting who have also invited other clubs to the event ahead of the 2016 season. For more details please visit
You can see below the travel schedule of the Roughnecks Coaching Staff & European trips below:
January 8-12 – Coach Irving headed to Fort Lauderdale for the MLS Combine
January 10 – 21 – Coach Taylor was in Malta watching different players and games around the island.
January 20&21 – Coach Irving & Taylor attended a combine at Walsall FC to view free agent players from around Europe
January 22 – Visited St Georges Park, England and watched Nike Academy vs Bristol City U21s
January 23 – Attended Walsall FC vs Blackpool (League 1 fixture)
January 24 – Coach Irving attended more trial games in Tottenham to view more free agent players in the London area.
January 25 – Travelled to London to visit Brentford FC training ground and U21 fixture vs Colchester United. Met with Head Coach Dean Smith and other key members of staff.
January 26&27 – Flew to Dublin, Ireland. Watched Shamrock Rovers training sessions.
January 28 – Watched Bray Wanderers (Ireland Premier League) vs PSC USA
January 29 & 30 – Travelled to Cork to watch Cork City (Ireland Premier League) fixture v Trialist Team. Met up with Cork City Head Coach, John Caulfied.
January 31 – Fly back to USA