As FC Dallas sets out to defend their Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup title against Wednesday at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, they should first know a thing or two about their USL opponents Tulsa Roughnecks FC.
Tulsa Roughnecks FC is an Oklahoma-based club currently playing in the USL. The Roughnecks, at the moment, sit eighth in the Western Conference standings, a position that ensures playoff soccer at the end of the season.
The club was founded in 2013 and has spent three seasons in the United States’ second division. In 2015, Tulsa finished seventh in the Western Conference, which was not enough at the time to make the playoffs. The following season, in 2016, the Roughnecks fell flat and finished 15th in the Western Conference. Now, after failing to make the playoffs in their first two seasons, the Roughnecks will look to make their first postseason.
USOC run thus far
In the U.S. Open Cup, Tulsa has fared decently for a USL side. In 2015, they fell out of the tournament in the third round and, in 2016, they only rose to the second. This season, the Roughnecks have made it the furthest they have ever gone in this tournament, the fourth round.
In order to make it here, Tulsa notched two difficult victories. The first win came at the hands of the Oklahoma City Energy U23 side, where they won 5-3. Their second win was against San Antonio FC in penalty kicks. A win against San Antonio is no easy task though. SAFC are the only team in the USL without a loss, so with Tulsa grabbing a win against them, it is a major accomplishment.
The Tulsa Roughnecks look to be improving on all levels and the man behind much of the improvement is head coach David Vaudreuil. Vaudreuil, a native of Hawaii, is a former journeyman player and a current journeyman coach. In his 12-year professional career, Vaudreuil played for the likes of the Tampa Bay Rowdies, D.C. United, Puebla F.C., and the Chicago Fire. In his coaching days, the 50-year-old has managed the Atlanta Silverbacks and Hollywood United before taking a gig with Tulsa.
Behind every good coach a good group of players. The Roughnecks have a decent group of players led by the likes of MLS veterans Donovan Ricketts and Kosuke Kimura. Ricketts a former L.A. Galaxy and Jamaican International goalkeeper who made exactly 100 caps for his country. With Tulsa, Ricketts acts as a goalkeeping coach who rarely sees the field. However, is coaching looks to be paying off as Fabian Cerda, Tulsa’s main keeper, has recently won the U.S. Open Cup Player of the Round award for the previous round.
Another player/coach on the Roughnecks is Kosuke Kimura, a Japanese-born defender who had spent multiple years playing with the Colorado Rapids and New York Red Bulls in the MLS. In the 2017 season, Kimura has made 11 appearances with 11 stars and 990 minutes played. His tackle success rate is 75%, his duel success is 68.4%, and his aerial duel rate is 75%. All decent stats for the 33-year-old.
Tulsa’s current top scorer is Ian Svantesson, a 23-year-old forward from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Svantesson has spent time with the Orlando City U-23 team and Rayo OKC before they were disbanded. Now, in his second year as a professional, the Florida native has improved drastically while in Tulsa.
In 11 eleven matches played (9 starts), the forward has scored five goals and possessed a 31% conversion rate – decent stats for a young forward.
Joining him up top is Joey Calistri, an on-loan forward from Tulsa’s MLS affiliate the Chicago Fire. Calistri has played in 11 matches season (9 starts) and has scored four goals while possessing a conversion rate of 40%.
The Tulsa Roughnecks are a very good side that is under the leadership of savvy ex-MLS veterans. As the team attempts to strive for their first playoff appearance to date, they will look to continue to steadily improve. Although the side has MLS roots, it’s hard to say that they can actually beat an MLS side. Is it possible? Yes, if you include the team that they are playing is torn by international duty, but to believe that they will beat Dallas is a huge dream.
Will they fight? Of course. Will they give it their all? No doubt.
But FC Dallas is a major contender for the title and it doesn’t seem like the Roughnecks will be in their way.