Off Pitch

Off Pitch is the occasional blog from Roustabouts member Roger Graham. Follow Roger on Twitter at @rogman99

Saint Louis FC: Rivals to the East

Saint Louis FC and their loyal supporters, the St. Louligans, are gearing up for their second year in the USL. They will look to improve upon their 9th place finish in the eastern conference during the 2015 season. Tulsa and Saint Louis met only once last season during the regular season, with STLFC winning 2-0 at ONEOK Field. This season, however, STLFC is moving to the Western conference and will face the Roughnecks at least 4 times during the regular season. I decided to find out a little more about STLFC by reaching out to their General Manager, Jeremy Alumbaugh. We talked about the last season as well as the upcoming 2016 season and caught up on a Roughneck fan favorite from 2015’s season.

RGVFC: The Boys at the Border

The Rio Grande Valley FC Toros are preparing to make their 2016 season debut in the USL. Rio Grande Valley were awarded a USL franchise and announced their affiliation with the Houston Dynamo last March. The Tulsa Roughnecks will welcome the Toros to ONEOK Field this Saturday at 7:00 PM.

Swope Park Rangers: Rivals to the North

The Tulsa Roughnecks FC excitedly welcome in a new regional rival- the Swope Park Rangers (owned by Sporting Kansas City of Major League Soccer). Tulsa fans will soon be well acquainted with the newcomers from the north, as the Rangers and Roughnecks will battle at least 4 times in the 2016 season. This is exciting for Tulsa area Roustabout and Cauldron fans, who will now be able to watch the Roughnecks battle with the Swope Park Rangers, as well as attend a Sporting KC match in the same weekend (only a four-hour car ride from Green Country!).

“Saint” Brady Ballew Ready for Sophomore Season

Fans can rejoice because midfielder Brady Ballew re-signed with the Tulsa Roughnecks FC over the winter. Brady (or St. Brady as the Roustabouts affectionately refer to the midfielder) will look to follow up on a season where he scored 6 goals (including the inaugural goal for the franchise) and 4 assists. Brady was also a finalist for the USL Rookie of the Year award and started in 20 matches for the ‘Necks. I had a chance to reflect with the 23 year old Seattle-native on his success from last season and find out what he’s been up to since we last watched him net a goal during the last match of the season.

Coach Irving Reflects on his First Season in Tulsa

“We were a young team and really young at the back, so I expected some challenges there,” said Coach Irving, looking back on what he knew about his team coming into last season. “We know the team that makes the least mistakes, typically wins; unfortunately we had some mistakes early on.”

Cristian Mata’s Road to the Roughnecks

Cristian Mata grew up playing the game he loves in his hometown of Tulsa. Mata, a 2012 graduate of Tulsa’s Union High School, amassed 70 goals and earned Oklahoma’s Gatorade Player of the Year award his senior year of high school. His jaw-dropping stats and goal-scoring ability were noticed by several colleges. Despite that attention, Mata decided to stay close to home and play at the University of Tulsa. Mata continued adding goals in the college ranks. He started 19 of 20 games as a freshman and would go on to record a team-high 14 goals. He followed it up with a sophomore season at TU where he started another 19 matches, racking up 10 more goals.

Crocketteers Optimistic about Move to USL

The Crocketteers (@crocketteers on Twitter), established in 2009, are the main supporter group for all things soccer in San Antonio, including coaching and financial support of three local, inner-city youth teams. The Crocketteers, who were the stalwarts for the Scorpions and boast a membership of 1,500 plus, will also follow suit for the new USL team. President of the Crocketteers, James Hope, is not only excited about the change over to the USL, but the ownership as well.