A sellout crowd of nearly 9,000 watched Saturday's match in Memphis. (Photo by Memphis 901 FC)
The Tulsa Roughnecks FC took a break from USL regular season play Saturday night for a friendly match against the Colorado Rapids of Major League Soccer before a sellout crowd in Memphis, Tennessee. The Roughnecks twice took leads in the first half, but eventually fell to the Rapids 3-2.
The match was played in conjunction with the unveiling of the name for the new Memphis USL franchise that will begin play next season. Memphis 901 FC hosted the game at their future home, Autozone Park which is also the home stadium for the Memphis Redbirds Triple-A baseball team.
Legendary United States National Team goalkeeper Tim Howard, who now plays for the Rapids, is an advisor for the new Memphis team. Howard started in goal for the Rapids and played the first 45 minutes of the game in his adopted hometown.
The match followed a similar theme as recent league matches for the Roughnecks. Tulsa took an initial lead just 14 minutes into the match when defender Josh Morton converted on a corner kick cross.
It took the Rapids only seconds to counter when Memphis native Niki Jackson scored to make it 1-1. TRFC goalkeeper Fabian Cerda saved Jackson’s first effort, but Rapids striker converted the rebound to tie the match.
The Roughnecks went back in front in the 26th minute. Joaquin Rivas, who has recently been called up to the El Salvador National Team for its match with Brazil next week, beat Howard with a direct free kick that put Tulsa up 2-1.
This time, it took the Rapids four minutes to find a response, and it again came from Jackson. The Rapids forward, who has two goals in MLS regular season play this year, converted again to level the score at 2-2.
The game remained even as the two teams entered the halftime break.
The final goal of the night came just two minutes after the restart when Jackson again beat the Roughnecks. Jackson’s hat trick goal put the Rapids in front 3-2.
Tulsa had a couple of chances in the final half hour of the game, but could not find an equalizer.
A sellout crowd of 8,957 watched the action in Memphis. It was the first professional soccer match in the city in 40 years. The old Memphis Rogues and the original Roughnecks met several times in the North American Soccer League.
The Roughnecks will depart Tennessee on Sunday for the Pacific Northwest for a pair of away matches. TRFC will play Seattle Sounders 2 on Wednesday, followed by a meeting with Portland Timbers 2 on Sunday, September 9.
The Roughnecks next home match will take place on Saturday, September 15 when they host San Antonio FC at ONEOK Field.