Chicago Fire General Manager Nelson Rodriguez shared a few thoughts about the club’s USL affiliate Tulsa Roughnecks FC’s start to the season during a roundtable on the club’s Facebook page Tuesday.
During the roundtable, Rodriguez discussed the strong performances of Fire loanees Joey Calistri and Collin Fernandez, and how they have helped the Roughnecks start strong this season. This is the first season of a partnership between the two clubs, and Rodriguez believes that Tulsa Head Coach David Vaudreuil has helped the relationship get off to a strong start.
“I think David Vaudreuil is a coach that we shouldn’t be surprised if one day we see him in Major League Soccer,” Rodriguez said. “I think the organization has treated us extraordinarily well. Our guys are having good experiences.”
Tulsa has started the season 4-4-0, and currently find themselves in eighth place in the Eastern Conference—the final playoff spot. Fire loanee Joey Calistri has his hands all over the Roughnecks’ early season success, leading the team with four goals and adding one assist.
“Joey Calistri is really doing well, really playing well,” Rodriguez stated about the 23-year-old Homegrown player. “I think this extended playing time is very good for him and he’s proving to be what he was in our Academy and what he was at Northwestern, which is a guy who finds a way to score goals and menace defenses.”
Collin Fernandez— a second Fire Homegrown player on loan at Tulsa— has also been a regular in the Roughnecks’ starting eleven, something that has not gone unnoticed by Rodriguez.
“They saw, and David Vaudreuil saw Collin in a way that we didn’t, so he’s played more as [a number eight], which is something that we hadn’t considered,” he explained.
The Fire’s general manager also revealed that Tulsa will be receiving two more Fire loanees after Thursday’s match against FC Dallas. Rookies Brandt Bronico and Stefan Cleveland will be joining the USL side.
Overall, it seems as if Rodriguez is quite pleased with Chicago’s newfound partners.
“All it’s done is reaffirm if you have a good partner and have open dialogue, you don’t need your own USL team,” he said. “We feel really good about what’s happening with the development of the players that we’ve sent down there.”
The Roughnecks take on Reno 1868 FC on Wednesday.