Three Questions is back! This week, we're brought aboard a brand new set of guests for a brand new team. The Orange County Blues, coming off a hard-fought midweek win, are back in action on Saturday against another new USL team, the Tulsa Roughnecks.
And to give us the lay of the land regarding the new club, we welcome Zach and Jesse Easdon, who host the Tulsa Soccer Show, which can be found, among other places, on Reckless Challenge. You can also follow them on Twitter @tulsasoccershow. Thanks very much to Zach and Jesse for taking the time to answer my questions!
The Goat Parade asks Tulsa Soccer Show:
1. Let's start with the off-field side of things. Tulsa is one of the new independent teams in USL this season, and seem to have a pretty good following right off the bat. What's the enthusiasm been like for the team so far, and have they been able to make a dent in the local sporting landscape as far as attention, local coverage, and so forth?
(Zach) This is correct, off the field Tulsa Roughnecks have been firing on all cylinders. A lot of the success can be attributed to the fact that the Roughnecks are owned and operated by the Tulsa Drillers (Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers). The Drillers are perhaps the most successful Tulsa sports franchise to date; the front office has done a great job using their experience and inside access to local government and media to get off to a great start. The sell-out for the first game (against in-state rivals OKC Energy) was great and the over 8,000 that were in attendance were raving about the atmosphere at ONEOK Field in downtown Tulsa.
Tulsa Roustabouts (the official supporters group for the Roughnecks) can be thanked for the thrilling atmosphere. It has been almost a year now that the Roustabouts started and have done a lot in that short amount of time. It's also interesting to note that as of right now the coaching staff for the Roughnecks are the only ones in the front office that are solely focused on soccer - the rest do their jobs for both teams. This was a concern that my brother and I brought up on our podcast before the season started.
2. On the field, the Roughnecks have had their struggles so far, picking up just five points in seven games. Is this just a typical case of a new team trying to find its way, or is another issue to blame for the slow start?
(Jesse) Being the first season for the Roughnecks the expectations were obviously low but at the beginning of the season there were a few glimmers of hopes. The first being the hiring of Coach David Irving, with his knowledge of the league and ability to build a team, many believed he could bring together a team that could be competitive in their first season (most still believe that he can).The second being that the team is operated by the Tulsa Drillers, a very successful team in their own right.
Unfortunately the first seven games haven't gone the way the team and fanbase would hope. Yes, we could blame this on being a first year team but there are a few errors that the team is making on the field that even a first year team should not be making. A lot of the goals that the team has given up have come from mental mistakes in the back line, the players in the back are very talented but need to learn that every minute counts. The front line has its issues as well, namely not being able to finish a scoring opportunity. The chances are there but we need players like Sammy Ochoa and Kidd Nwabueze to contribute to the score line.
3. What's the expectation, both within the fanbase and the team itself, for this season? Getting a full season under their belt? Making the postseason? Something else entirely?
(Zach) This is an interesting question for us in Tulsa because every time I have asked someone, either in the fanbase or the team I have gotten a different answer. I don't think anyone expected the Roughnecks to go out and win the league but most people (myself included) expected something better than what we have right now on the field. After getting Coach Irving in so late and having a slow start I think the expectations have dropped some but making postseason is still the goal for most fans as well as Coach Irving.
As far as off the field for the Roughnecks that is where we see a lot of different opinions and a lot of the differences revolves around the Roughnecks moving up to MLS. While most Tulsans would love to have a MLS team in town the question is how soon if ever could the Roughnecks move up. There have been several fans calling for the Roughnecks to push the issue on MLS and start getting into the conversation. The conversation about Tulsa getting a MLS team can get very complicated (as are most things that involve MLS) but as of right now Tulsa fans an excited to have professional soccer back.
4. Prediction for Saturday's game against the OC Blues?
(Zach) It's hard to see the Roughnecks coming back from California with any points especially going up against a strong team in the OC Blues. As in all of Tulsa's games I expect them to put up a fight, this will be a very interesting game with both teams getting several goal scoring opportunities. My prediction for the game is 2-1 for OC Blues, I would love to see the Roughnecks pull out a tie but the way both teams have been playing doesn't bode well for Tulsa.
(Jesse) This game is going to be a tough challenge for the Roughnecks. Most Tulsa fans would be thrilled to get a point out of O.C. but right now I don't see that happening. My prediction is 3-1 to O.C. with Tulsa's Kidd getting his first goal of the season. Kidd getting his first score could be a really good thing for Tulsa down the road.
What do you think? Leave a comment below!