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March to the Match: Tulsa Roughnecks FC

In which we preview Louisville City’s next opponent/victim/source of 3 points:

WHO: Tulsa Roughnecks FC, 10-9-5, 35 points, 5th in the Western Conference.

WHAT: Louisville City’s return visit to Tulsa after beating the RUFFNEXX in the hail back on April 25. Seems like yesterday. Somebody get me a tissue.

WHEN: Saturday, August 15, 2015, 8:30 p.m. EDT, Chief Keef’s 20th birthday.

WHERE: ONEOK Field, because thank God there aren’t two, 201 N. Elgin Ave, Tulsa, OK 74120. It’s a baseball field, too! We should be besties!

WATCH: At Against the Grain! It’ll be fun! But if you’re stuck in a really protracted LARP sesh and have to watch it on your phone or something, you can watch it here:

WHO, AGAIN? Tulsa Roughnecks, more like Tulsa Softnecks amirite? Like just about every other team in the USL’s Western Conference, it’s been a very up and down season for Tulsa. It took them seven games before they recorded their first win, and posted eight losses in their first fifteen games before starting to turn things around. And turn around they did – the Roughnecks won six of their last nine matches, and have only lost once since June. That streak includes a 6-3 victory at home against Arizona United and a 5-1 home win against Real Monarchs.

Tulsa might have turned the corner too late, though. They’ve played more games than anyone else in the league, and are fighting to hang on to a spot in the playoffs. Both Sacramento Republic and OC Blues are below the ‘Necks in the table, but both by just two points, and both have three games in hand. Yikes.

From a player personnel standpoint, Tulsa’s head coach David Irving has done the smart thing and tried to develop some consistency in his squad, so there are a lot of regular starters. Their Number 9 Sammy Ochoa has started every game and leads the team in goals with eight, while Brady Bellew and Cristian “not Juan” Mata have five goals each. Defender Ryan Price leads the team in minutes, and midfielder Chad Bond leads the team in assists with seven.

Tulsa’s a fairly offensive-minded team; they rank in the top five in goals scored, assists, and shots. However, like a lot of Western Conference teams, Tulsa both scores and gives up a lot of goals. Their goal keeping corps leads the league in saves by a wide, wide margin. Keeping the ball away from them will likely be important. Louisville City’s tried a high press to some effect before, but I’d kind of prefer to see some solidarity out of the defense. I’m salivating at the prospect of an Abend-Guzman defensive pairing wrecking shop in the middle of the field.

SUPPORTERS GROUP: The Roustabouts. They like hardhats and wrenches. They call their supporters section The Rig. How has Sheikh Mansour not heard of these guys? They also apparently have a Mariachi band, which, okay, that’s pretty cool. I like that. “Ring of Fire” on loop.

UNSUBSTANTIATED PREDICTIONS: A Matt Fondy six-pack! That’d be cool. In all seriousness, this should be a tough game. Louisville City scores lots of goals but doesn’t give up many untilrecentlyandwe’llpretendthatdidn’thappen. I don’t think this is the same Roughnecks team that the Royals beat pretty soundly a few months ago, and I think a 2-2 draw would probably be a fair result. Can’t wait to be wrong.