By NICHOLAS MURRAY – firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday, January 30, 2016
Every offseason, there’s one piece of equipment that proves invaluable to Tulsa Roughnecks FC Coach David Irving more than anything else – his passport.
The Roughnecks are set to return a solid squad from their inaugural season, with a number of key players such as Cristian Mata, Brady Ballew and Sammy Ochoa already announced as returning to the club. Irving and assistant coach Tom Taylor have still been busy over the past month, however, with visits to the MLS Combine and to Europe as they look to find talent that will fill out the club’s roster for the new USL season.
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“It’s a busy time of the year for us trying to find new players for the club and a great opportunity for me to see players from this side of the world,” Irving told TulsaRoughnecksFC.com. “Not only that, but we have had the opportunity to visit a lot of different clubs’ training sessions and matches to keep refreshing ourselves with different ideas as we observe how [teams] are doing things over in Europe. Lots of things are very similar to what we do, but it has been interesting to see the different opinions and how clubs are operating everything from the youth academy up to the first teams in the UK and Ireland.”
Trips like this have been commonplace for Irving since he was Head Coach for Wilmington Hammerheads FC, and have often resulted in success. Last season, Iarfhlaith Davoren was signed by the Roughnecks after a similar expedition, and went on to make 21 appearances for the side in the regular season. The Irish defender is set to be back with the club again this season.
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“Dav had good experience in the League of Ireland prior to coming to play for us last season, but it was important to get to know his mentality and see him in person while we spent time in Dublin last winter. Hopefully, we can find one or two more like him while we are out in Europe,” said Taylor. “There are many players out here who are looking to find a chance to break into the American game so we are hopeful of finding some key additions to our squad while we are out traveling and watching games around these different countries.”
In addition to the players the Roughnecks have retained from last season, Irving said the club has four or five new additions that are yet to be announced. Now, the club is looking to build the squad’s depth with an eye on reaching the USL Playoffs for the first time.“The next few weeks we will be looking to find the final few pieces to the puzzle and be looking at a number of players in different areas,” said Irving. “We are in Europe now, where one or two guys have taken our eye, but we will then be heading to Atlanta, Georgia from February 6-8 to look at players based in the southeast who are keen at looking to earn a spot on the Roughnecks roster.”