MATT SHELDON: On The Rise Again

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The USL Championship season is approaching, and it will mark FC Tulsa’s right back Matt Sheldon’s fourth season in the league and second with Tulsa.

Sheldon, a California native, has set high hopes for his second season with the newly rebranded FC Tulsa. The right-back knows not to take these professional minutes for granted.

In the 2018 season, Sheldon signed with a semi-professional side Waterside Karori after undergoing a sports hernia surgery. In New Zealand, Sheldon learned a lot about himself and what it takes to stay at the professional level.

“It (his tenure in New Zealand) was humbling. You go up for a high for a little bit when you’re playing at the pro level and everything is going well. Then some things don’t go as well, and it’s humbling, it’s tough.” Sheldon said about his time in New Zealand and what it taught him not just as a player, but a person.

Sheldon returned to America in 2019 when he made the move to Tulsa. While the transition back to the professional game was tough, Sheldon still managed to have one of his best professional seasons to date despite having another sports hernia surgery that took him out for 14 games last season.

Sheldon talked about his sports hernia surgery from last season and how it affected him mentally. “I didn’t have a positive mindset right when it happened. It was almost a full year of being down, getting hurt, and I finally felt like I was back. I was from a low, back to a high when signing for the Tulsa Roughnecks, back to a low.” Sheldon said. He then went on to say he had to accept it and the only thing that he could control was the quality of the rehab.

Despite the injury, Matt came back strong and regained a role in the starting XI. Tulsa didn’t make the playoffs, but it ended being a successful season for Sheldon.

However, this upcoming season will be different for Matt. He will be wearing different colors and will have a new badge on his chest as the Tulsa Roughnecks rebranded to FC Tulsa.

“I love the rebrand. I think the whole rebrand of FC Tulsa looks so clean and modern… I think it’s exactly what Tulsa soccer needed.” Sheldon ecstatically said about the rebrand.

This season will be one in Tulsa’s historic soccer history, and along with Sheldon, the team has plenty of talent to potentially go far this USL Championship season. Sheldon loves his new teammates and is very hopeful they can make a deep playoff run together, “I think everybody has meshed together really well. Of course, you have your normal disagreements, but everybody is one the same page. Everybody wants to win and we all want to do something for the city of Tulsa.” 

Sheldon and his team will finally get put to the real test this Sunday when they play a club that Sheldon has serious connections with, Sacramento Republic. Sacramento was the opposition Sheldon played in his first professional game ever back when he was with the Orange County Blues and he also used to be a training player there.

Sacramento has historically been one of the USA’s best teams. The team on the field is excellent as well as the supporters off of it, and they will provide a tough battle to Sheldon and FC Tulsa.

“Sacramento is a really good side. They have a lot of good players. It will be a tough one in that environment with ten thousand fans supporting them. It will be a very high energy game. I hope that we just play well. To me, it’s more about how we play on the field and less about the result.  Obviously, I want to win and get three points, but I just want us to do everything we have been working on this preseason and that everything comes together.” Sheldon said about the upcoming game.

Matt firmly believes that if the team can mesh and play the way that they can, they can certainly get three points.

Outside of the team, Matt has set goals for himself as an individual. “I always set goals and have high expectations for myself as a player,” Sheldon stated. He also went on to say that sometimes you have to reassess goals, like he had to do last season while in Tulsa.

“Last season I wanted to get 25-30 games in, but I had to reassess my goals as I had the surgery,” Sheldon said, he also went on to talk about his goals for this upcoming season.

“This season I want to get 25-30 games in, a whole season. I want to be a consistent starter, get 5-10 assists, and I want to score a goal during the season. Overall, I just want to help the team out in any way I can and get shutouts.” Matt said about his goals for this season.

Overall, Sheldon is looking to have another great season this year and bring a championship to the city of Tulsa.

If you want to watch Matt’s first game of the season, it will be streamed on ESPN+ at 10:30 ET this coming Saturday.