By MIKE GRAMAJO
Beginning in 2015, the Tulsa Roughnecks FC will be the second professional soccer team in the state of Oklahoma.
After it was announced that Tulsa will be getting a USL Pro franchise, the choosing of the name of the team was left to fans, with 50 percent opting for Roughnecks, paying homage for the original Tulsa Roughnecks that played in the NASL from 1978-1984.
Other options that fans were able to choose were Tulsa Strike, FC Tulsa, and Oil City Tulsa.
With a name already checked off, the Roughnecks will now focus their attention on developing team colors, logos and uniforms, which is expected to be released in the latter part of spring per USL Pro. The Roughnecks will join 2014 expansion franchise Oklahoma City Energy FC as Oklahoman-based USL Pro teams.
Here are some of the stories to get you caught up around the NASL/USL Pro:
SILVERBACKS SIGN THREE KEY CONCACAF PLAYERS
The Atlanta Silverbacks made three key signings in the past 48 hours, signing Belize international forward Deon McCaulay, El Salvador national team goalkeeper Derby Carrillo, and Carillo’s El Salvador teammate Efrain Junior Burgos, pending league and USSF approval.
After losing last year’s starting goalkeeper Joe Nasco, who joined the Colorado Rapids earlier this month, Silverbacks technical director Eric Wynalda was poised to look for a top-caliber goalkeeper for the upcoming NASL season.
“I know Derby very well from his Cal FC days, and what he has been able to achieve since then is phenomenal,” Wynalda told the club’s website. “We know what we’re getting with him on and off the field. He is an international caliber player and a quality person, so we expect big things from him.”
The move to sign a veteran goalkeeper follows after the Silverbacks announced the signing of McCaulay on Tuesday. The Belize international, who last played for Belmopan Bandits of the Belize Premier League, scored 11 goals in eight games for the Jaguars during the early stages of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.
Burgos joins after spending part of the 2012 season with Toronto FC. Burgos will join the Silverbacks on Saturday for the start of preseason training.
ROWDIES INK FIRST JERSEY SPONSOR
For the first time in their club history, the Tampa Bay Rowdies will have a jersey sponsor for the 2014 North American Soccer League season.
The St. Petersburg side announced on Wednesday they reached an agreement with the Seminole Hard Rock & Hotel Casino Tampa to become the club’s main kit sponsor for the upcoming NASL season.
“I am grateful to the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino for their collaboration and look forward to working with them as the Rowdies battle for their third NASL Soccer Bowl Championship in 2014,” Rowdies owner Bill Edwards said in a statement. “The Rowdies are in the business of entertaining our fans and treating our guests to an unparalleled VIP experience, so it’s a perfect fit.”
The major move follows after the Rowdies announced back in December 2013 that multimillionaire entrepreneur Bill Edwards bought the controlling interest of the club. With a sponsored jersey out of the way, the Rowdies are expected to debut their new kits in their home opener on April 12 vs. FC Edmonton.
INDY ELEVEN STRENGTHEN THEIR DEFENSE
With the 2014 NASL season right around the corner, Indy Eleven’s depth in the defense just grew stronger.
The NASL’s newest franchise announced the signings of goalkeeper Jon Dawson and defenders Chris Estridge and Andrew Stone.
“Chris, Andrew and Jon showed well both on and off the field during our first training camp in Arizona, so we are confident in knowing what they will bring to Indy Eleven,” Indy Eleven President Peter Wilt told the club’s website. “All three players will build upon the competitive environment needed to make Indy Eleven a success this season.”
With the defense position now standing at six players, the Indianapolis side has a total of 14 players in their roster, and are expected to make their NASL debut on April 12 vs. the Carolina RailHawks.
ORLANDO CITY RE-SIGNS MIDFIELDER
After already bolstering a heavy midfield, Orlando City SC announced on Wednesday that they have re-signed midfielder Adama Mbengue for the 2014 USL Pro season.
“Obviously we’re pleased to get him (Adama) back,” head coach Adrian Heath said in a press release. “We weren’t sure on whether or not he would return, but the fact that he is coming back is a big plus for everybody.”
The 20-year-old played an important part for the Lions’ 2013 USL Pro championship run, scoring Orlando’s sixth goal in their 7-4 championship victory over the Charlotte Eagles back in September 2013. The Senegalese showed signs of potential, being promoted from the club’s U-23 side.
SACRAMENTO REPUBLIC AND EARTHQUAKES TO PLAY IN PRESEASON FRIENDLY
The Northern California soccer rivalry will get its unofficial start in Turlock, Calif.
With the 2014 MLS season just weeks away, the San Jose Earthquakes will close out their preseason in a friendly vs. USL Pro-affiliate Sacramento Republic on March 5, the club announced on Wednesday.
The match is expected to take place at Cal State Stanislaus’ Warrior Field, and will be Sac Republic’s first major friendly vs. an MLS side.
What do you think of these news? Do you like Tulsa choosing Roughnecks as their name? Can you see the Rowdies making other major moves? Do you think the Silverbacks can return as a stronger team in 2014?
Share your thoughts below.