Match Day 10 will see San Antonio FC back home against another regional foe, the Tulsa Roughnecks. We caught up with Zach Easdon (@easdonz) of the Tulsa Soccer Show (@tulsasoccershow), one of the great USL Podcasts to see what’s new on the North side of the Red River.
- 1 – (RB90) Last time we saw you guys SAFC was busy bouncing Tulsa from the USL Playoffs. After Tulsa did the same to SAFC in the Open Cup earlier in 2017, I guess we can call it even as far as tournaments go. Is this finally turning into a real USL rivalry as we hit year three?
(ZE) I am not sure if we could call it a rivalry, yet, but it is definitely one to keep an eye on. For most Tulsa fans, we view SAFC as a great example of what we wish the Roughnecks could become both on and off the field. 2017 was by far the most success we have seen in Tulsa. The Open Cup win vs SAFC and being able to play an MLS team for the first time was the highlight of the year. Making playoffs was the goal for Tulsa, and when I saw Tulsa had SAFC in the first round, my hopes were not high to move on. Even with low expectations, it still hurt to watch us go out on a last minute penalty.
- 2 – When it comes to USL play, this has been as one-sided of a matchup as it gets. San Antonio is a perfect 5 for 5 against Tulsa, taking all 15 points in regular season play so far, including three wins at Toyota Field. What does Tulsa have to do to finally get a win against San Antonio?
Chicago could loan down Schweinsteiger… It is clear that SAFC is the better team this year and the last two years, so it will be a tall task for Tulsa to get their first regular season win. My guess is that Coach Vaudreuil will utilize a defensive strategy -hoping to capitalize on whatever chances they can get while playing for a tie. Look for Paris Gee to get out wide to send crosses in on counter attacks- hoping to find Joaquin Rivas or Fernando Arce.
- 3 – It’s hard to sugar coat it – it has been a rough start for Tulsa this season. Zero wins through nine matches, and a negative eleven goal differential with nineteen goals conceded overall. Still, it’s a long season. What potential bright spots do you see on this roster?
The bright spots for Tulsa have been the returning players that were brought back from last year: Fabian Cerda, Paris Gee, Joaquin Rivas and Francisco Ugarte. It has been exciting to see players that we know find success but a reminder of what Tulsa let go in the offseason. Letting players go like Juan Pablo Caffa and Bradley Bourgeois, has been one of the biggest complaints of fans this year. In all four years, Tulsa has had almost all new players each year resulting in the significant period before the team starts gelling as a team every year.
- 4 – GK Fabian Cerda is definitely having an impressive season despite the results. He has 26 saves this year, and that is after he compiled a 1.26 goals-against average and tied for fourth in the USL with 90 saves in 2017. He also had a club-record nine clean sheets last year. He seems like the kind of keeper who could potentially turn a team’s fortunes around. Tell us more about him and his play.
Cerda has certainly been impressive last season and looks like he is will be continuing his dominance between the post for Tulsa. Recently Cerda has been criticized for not being able to stop Didier Drogba’s 40-yard free kick, but what many Cerda critics didn’t see was the many difficult saves he made during the night. With a leaky back line, Cerda is called into action several times during a game, but more times than not, he doesn’t have to pick the ball from the back of his net.
- 5 – Joaquin Rivas is by far the player that has impressed the most offensively for Tulsa so far in 2018, recording 4 goals. No one for SAFC has more than two. What can you tell us about him and his season so far?
Rivas is another player Tulsa is lucky to have back for his second season with the club. On top of being a great player, he is also a stand- up guy. One of the reasons Rivas has been so good this year has been his bond with Paris Gee. Gee has been phenomenal in his own right with 4 assists and 1 goal on the year. SAFC fans will remember Gee from his rocket goal last year in the playoff game. The Roughnecks have been criticized for their lack of identity this year; I believe that Tulsa can create one around these two players.
- 6 – Tell us something we should know about Tulsa Roughnecks.
Most soccer fans probably know that Tulsa Roughnecks get their namesake from the original NASL Team, but what few fans might not know is the franchise was originally the San Antonio Thunder before moving to Hawaii, then to Tulsa where they would go on to win our states only top-level professional sports championship.
Current Form (W-D-L)
San Antonio FC – L D W W D, 2018 Home Record 2-1-1
Tulsa Roughnecks – D D D D L, 2018 Road Record 0-3-1
San Antonio FC: 13 points, GF 9, GA 9, 0 GD, 9th in USL West
Tulsa Roughnecks: 5 points, GF 8, GA 19, -11 GD, 16th in USL West
All-Time History (W-D-L)
San Antonio has dominated the series winning all five regular-season USL matches by a combined 12 goals to 3. The one win for Tulsa against SAFC came in the 2017 Open Cup when Tulsa outlasted the silver and black in penalty kicks by a 7 to 6 margin. San Antonio returned the favor by ousting Tulsa from the 2017 USL Playoffs. All-time, San Antonio leads the series 6-0-1.
5/19/18 @ SA
9/15/2018 @ TUL
Behind goals from Cesar Elizondo and a dramatic extra-time Penalty Kick strike from Ever Guzman after Billy Forbes was tackled in the box, San Antonio defeated Tulsa 2-1 at Toyota Field on October 21, 2017, in the Western Quarterfinals of the 2017 USL Playoffs. It was the first and so far only playoff victory in SAFC’s short history. Paris Gee scored for the Roughnecks. Re-live all the excitement right here.
The Matchup (W-D-L)
Tulsa Roughnecks (0-5-4) at San Antonio FC (3-4-2) #SAvTUL
Toyota Field, Saturday, May 19th
Kickoff 7:30 pm Central Time
Where to Watch: ESPN+, Fox Sports Southwest
Key to victory
When SAFC meets Tulsa on Saturday night at Toyota Field, it might feel like a breath of fresh air. These are two teams going in opposite directions at the moment. San Antonio is unbeaten in four league games, and five matches overall. Tulsa is winless on the season, and just got thumped at home by Phoenix, losing 5-1. Unbelievably, that wasn’t even their worst loss of the season, dropping an early season match to Orange County by a score of 5-0. San Antonio has only given up 5 goals one time in three seasons, let alone twice in two months. Add to that, San Antonio took a midweek Open Cup victory at home while Tulsa was bounced from the tournament by FC Wichita. By a late goal scored by former SAFC Forward Franck Tayou, no less.
And we haven’t even mentioned the history of this regional rivalry. Five league matches, five San Antonio wins. It’s all stacked in San Antonio’s favor coming into this one. These are three points that will practically start in San Antonio’s back pocket at the opening whistle.
Still, points are earned, not given, and this will be the end of a long week for SAFC. It started last Saturday night in south Texas where SAFC earned a hard-fought 0-0 draw behind another fantastic performance from Diego Restrepo. Then it was on the road again on Wednesday as SAFC began their Open Cup run in 2018 with an impressive 4-0 win at Midland-Odessa. Playing the third match in one week – even with different lineups and even in a match-up that feels very one-sided on paper – well, that’s why they play the games.
For Tulsa, the lone offensive bright spots have been Joaquin Rivas (4 goals) and Paris Gee (4 assists). Beyond those two players, it has been a quiet season on the offensive statistics pages for the Roughnecks. Defensively, they are behind a talented keeper in Fabian Cerda, but this has been a very vulnerable defense overall. Their 19 goals conceded is tied for the very worst in all of USL (Atlanta United 2).
This could be just what the doctor ordered for a San Antonio offense that is still finding their way. There have been some bright spots in the last few weeks, but this is still a team that has scored multiple goals only 3 times in 9 league matches. There’s a lot of room for improvement, and this could be the week things go to the next level.
While they’ll look to springboard from a performance that provided an avalanche of goals on Wednesday night in the Open Cup, with Guzman still on the injury list, Elizondo joining him for the second time this season, and Seth seemingly relegated to defensive and bench duties, it’s basically Bruce or newcomer Kyle Murphy at the Forward spot until the injury situation turns around.
Defensively, Restrepo is in top form, and he’s doing it with basically a back three formation that sometimes feels like a back two as assist leader King continues to get forward. Needless to say, the results have been as positive as expected, but tactically, it hasn’t gone how we thought it might in league play. Just ask Hedrick, McCarthy, or Christian. Speaking of King, he picked up his fourth yellow of the season in the valley last weekend. One more and he will face a suspension. It seems like it’s only a matter of time until a defensive shakeup will become necessary – at least for one match.
All in all, Tulsa is a team struggling hugely so far in 2018 and San Antonio has never lost to Tulsa in a regular season USL match. It’s not going to happen Saturday night, either. All signs point to San Antonio rolling to their biggest victory of the USL season. If the outcome is anything but victory, it will be a massive disappointment.
San Antonio FC – 3
Tulsa Roughnecks – 0
SAFC “Did You Know?”
San Antonio FC recorded 10 shots on goal against Tulsa the very first time these two teams met in USL play on April 30, 2016, good for tops in team history. SAFC won the match 3-1.