By Rich Lohman
Legacy fans of the Tulsa Roughnecks hold a special place in their hearts for Vancouver, British Columbia as it was there, in 1983, the Roughnecks of the North American Soccer League defeated the Toronto Blizzard 2-0 to earn the original club it’s only world championship and Oklahoma it’s only major league title in any sport.
The Roughnecks of the USL made their first trip north of the border on Friday to take on the Whitecaps 2 and it was a tight match through the first 45 minutes. Both teams had quality chances in the first half but outstanding goaltending kept the score knotted at nil at the break.
Tulsa’s Jake Feener made a pair of diving stops, the first coming in the 17th minute on shot from Marco Bustos and the second coming seven minutes later when he denied Billy Schuler.
The Roughnecks first real chance came on a 22nd minute corner. A header from Ryan Price forced a diving save from Vancouver goalkeeper Paolo Tornaghi.
Just before halftime, left back Iarfhlaith Davoren pushed up and fired a left-footed volley that was inches wide of the far post to keep the match scoreless.
Tulsa drew first blood six minutes after the second half kicked off when Brady Ballew sent a cross from the right win toward the middle, where Steven Miller lobbed the ball onto Sammy Ochoa’s foot, who fired it past Tornaghi for the first tally of the match and Ochoa’s third mark of the season.
In the 56th minute Ballew found Miller again, and instead of dishing the ball off to another teammate he headed the ball in to give the visitors a 2-0 advantage. Ballew got a goal of his own in the 86th minute when he blasted the ball past Tornaghi to extend the Roughnecks lead to 3-0 with four minutes left in the match.
Kyrian Kidd got Tulsa’s final goal when he split the Whitecaps defense and top shelfed a shot into the right corner of the net in stoppage time to give the Roughnecks a decisive 4-0 win.
The win lifts the Roughnecks into the sixth and final playoff spot in the USL west.
Tulsa and Vancouver will face off again, this time on the Roughnecks home pitch of ONEOK Field this coming Friday. Kickoff is set for 7:30pm CDT.