New coach, Roughnecks win first match
TULSA The Michael Nsien era could not have started any better for the Tulsa Roughnecks, as they defeated the Los Angeles Galaxy II 2-0 on Wednesday night at ONEOK Field.

Jhon Pirez and Paris Gee each found the back of the net for Tulsa, and Fabian Cerda earned his second clean-sheet of the season.  It was the first match in charge for the Tulsa native Nsien.

With the win, the Roughnecks improve to 1-8-7 and 10 points on the year, while the LA Galaxy II fall to 3-9-4 with 13 points.

Early in the match, Cerda came up big for Tulsa, just as he has all season long. In the 15th minute, Ethan Zubak fired a strong right-footed shot that Cerda punched away for his first big save of the match.

After the save, the Roughnecks kept pressure on LA. Tulsa’s first good chance came in the 19th minute. The ball was cleared to Eti Tavaras on the right side of the pitch, who passed to Michael Gamble in the middle of the box for a one-timer, but it was blocked by a defender.

Just a few minutes later, Paris Gee found an opening 20 yards out on the left and fired a laser that went just over the crossbar.

Another good attempt came in the 35th minute when Joaquin Rivas found Pirez just outside the box. He took an open shot that went high of the goal.

But, it was Pirez who found the back of the net just a few minutes later. The striker was standing at midfield when the ball was cleared out of the Roughnecks box, sending him on a sprint to the ball with just the keeper to beat.  The first shot was saved by LA keeper Wade Hamilton, but the rebound set perfectly on the ground, allowing Pirez to slide his second effort into the back of the net for the 1-0 Tulsa advantage.

For just the third time all season, the Roughnecks went into halftime with a lead. The Roughnecks controlled the half with nearly 60% of the possession time.

Just seconds after the second half began, Hugo Arellano of Los Dos committed a bad foul on Pirez in midfield and drew a red card that reduced Galaxy II to just ten men.

Tulsa struck again in the 52nd minute. Ivan Mirkovic found Gee just inside the left of the box. Gee cut inside and took a powerful right-footed shot that found the top right of the goal and put the Roughnecks on top 2-0.

Los Dos found themselves with a nice chance in the 68th minute. From the right, Ethan Zubak found Julian Buescher in the center of the box. The midfielder found some space and took an open shot, but Cerda was there to deny the chance.

With time running out, the LA did not go down quietly. In the 84th minute, Buescher shot to the left of the goal, but a diving Cerda denied any chance of a goal.

The defense held up the rest of the way, as the Roughnecks earned their first victory of the season and Cerda his first clean sheet of 2018.

“I was really impressed with the way we started the game,” said Nsien.  “We came into the game with an objective to get the first goal. We got the first goal and fortunately they got a player sent off. I told them personally to dominate the game, control the game and manage the game. Even when we had to defend a lot, we were organized and absorbed the pressure like we were supposed to and got across the finish line.”

NOTES:  Before the match, the Roughnecks honored 5A Bishop Kelley and 6A Union Redskins who won the Oklahoma soccer state championship. . . .The Roughnecks will be back in action Saturday night when the Las Vegas Lights visit.  A large Independence Day Holiday Fireworks Extravaganza will follow the match.  Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

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