October 5, 2017 - United Soccer League (USL) - Tulsa Roughnecks FC
With another chance to wrap up its first-ever playoff berth, the Tulsa Roughnecks FC suffered its most heartbreaking loss of the season Wednesday night in Arizona with a 4-3 defeat to Phoenix Rising FC. Joey Calistri deflected home what would have been the game-tying goal with the last kick of the match, but the shot came from an offside position and was waved off, ending the game.
The match featured six first-half goals, and the Roughnecks could not protect an early two-goal lead in the loss.
The defeat leaves TRFC with 43 points from a 13-13-4 record. The Roughnecks remain in the seventh spot in the Western Conference standings with two games remaining in the regular season. A win or a draw in either of those two games at ONEOK Field would clinch the club's first-ever postseason berth.
The next opportunity will come quickly as Tulsa hosts Seattle Sounders 2 on Saturday night.
Wednesday's match began as if both teams mutually agreed beforehand to skip the defending. After a quiet opening ten minutes, the goal barrage began.
In the 12th minute, a nice buildup resulted in a cross from Joey Calistri that found an open Joaquin Rivas in front of goal. Rivas fired a right-footed shot into the back of the net for his fifth goal of the season to give the Roughnecks the lead.
Two minutes later, Juan Pablo Caffa doubled the lead with a spectacular strike. The Tulsa captain took one touch before drilling a curving, 25-yard shot into the top corner of the goal. Caffa's ninth goal gave TRFC a 2-0.
The euphoria did not last long as Phoenix had a quick answer. Just over 100 seconds later, former Chelsea forward Didier Drogba headed in a cross at the back post to give Phoenix its first goal of the night.
In the 19th minute, Rising FC striker Jason Johnson found space in the middle of the penalty area and slotted a left-footed shot past Fabian Cerda to level the score at 2-2.
Five minutes later, Johnson was deemed to have been pushed down in the box by Mo Jadama, giving the Rising a penalty kick. Drogba sent Cerda the wrong way and rolled the PK into the opposite corner to give the Rising a 3-2 lead.
Tulsa 's Christian Thierjung capped the wild first half in the 30th minute when he took a perfectly delivered cross from Calistri and beat the keeper for his second goal of the season and evened the score at 3-3. It was the third assist of the half for Calistri.
The second-half featured only one goal, and it was the winner for Phoenix. In the 66th minute, the Roughnecks failed to clear a threat from their own penalty area, and the ball eventually found Johnson near the end line. From a tough angle, the Rising striker rolled a shot through the legs of Cerda and into the net to give Phoenix the 4-3 lead.
For a moment, it appeared as if Calistri had salvaged a draw for the Roughnecks five minutes into stoppage time. Koskuke Kimura headed a clearance to Collin Fernandez at the top of the penalty arc and the midfielder turned and fired a left-footed shot through the defense. Calistri deflected the shot past Phoenix keeper Josh Cohen, but the final touch came from an offside position, denying the Roughnecks the tying goal.
Despite the tough loss, Tulsa still controls its playoff fate. A win or a draw in the final two matches at home would be enough to clinch a spot. The Roughnecks could possibly finish as high as sixth place with a pair of victories to close out the regular season.
The first of those two matches will take palce this Saturday, October 7, when TRFC hosts Seattle Sounders 2 at ONEOK Field for Team Poster Night. Kickoff in downtown Tulsa is scheduled for 7:00 p.m. CDT and tickets are available.
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Roughnecks Suffer 4-3 Loss in Phoenix