Saturday night was a special evening in the storied history of professional soccer in the city of Tulsa, and the Tulsa Roughnecks rose to the occasion.
But before the game, a moment of silence was held to remember the mother and children killed in a crash earlier this week.
The team also wore armbands to honor Erin and Zach Van Horn, Beck Kitterman and Lizzie Edwards.
Phoenix Rising FC came to ONEOK Field with international stars Didier Drogba, Omar Bravo and Shaun Wright-Phillips, but it was Roughnecks FC who thrilled the home crowd with a 3-0 victory.
The Roughnecks got goals from Ian Svantesson, Jacori Hayes and debutant Christian Thierjung, and a shutout performance from goalkeeper Fabian Cerda and his backline to record the win. The victory came before a season-best crowd of 5,647 at ONEOK Field.
The two teams entered the match level on points, but TRFC maintained its playoff spot in the USL’s Western Conference standings, improving its point total to 25 with an 8-8-1 record. The Rising remained on 22 points as their record fell to 6-6-4 with the loss. With the win, Tulsa climbed to fifth spot in the Western Conference table.
It took the Roughnecks just a quarter of an hour to take the lead, and it came in a familiar fashion. Juan Pablo Caffa delivered a near-perfect corner kick cross that was headed into the net by Svantesson. It was the team-leading eighth goal of the season for the big striker and the team-leading fifth assist for the TRFC captain.
Drogba nearly leveled the score with his best chance of the match in the 20th minute. After a handball was whistled at the top of the box, the former Chelsea FC striker curled a free kick over the wall that appeared destined for the lower corner of the net, but Cerda made a diving save to keep the TRFC lead intact.
Hayes gave the Roughnecks a 2-0 lead with his first USL goal in the 44th minute. Paris Gee got free on the right wing and sent a cross into the box, and it deflected off a defender and to and unmarked Hayes. The Dallas F.C. loanee beat goalkeeper Josh Cohen to the ball and poked a right-footed shot into the net.
A good portion of the second half was spent with Phoenix on the attack as substitutions Wright-Phillips and Jason Johnson came on at the break, but Tulsa’s backline was outstanding, limiting the work for Cerda who was called on to make only four saves in the match.
The Roughnecks put an exclamation point on their win in the 85th minute and it came courtesy of newcomer Thierjung. On the right side of the penalty area, the former San Jose Earthquakes draft pick hit a full-volleyed shot past Cohen and into the far corner of the goal to make the final score 3-0.
The Roughnecks will now make a trip to Utah for a rematch with Real Monarchs SLC on Monday, July 31 at Rio Tinto Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. CDT. TRFC’s next home match at ONEOK Field will be on Saturday, August 5 when it hosts Reno 1868 FC. Kickoff for that match is set for 7:30 p.m.
Photo Courtesy of the Tulsa Roughnecks Twitter page.