Energy drops season opener to FC Tulsa 3-1
The Oklahoma City Energy entered the 2021 season with an overhauled defense, down three potential starters, and spending Saturday evening fine-tuning the chemistry needed to have a successful campaign.
Although the 3-1 result wasn’t a desired outcome, the freshly assembled squad showed a lot of promise and reasons to be excited about their chances throughout the rest of the USL Championship season.
The opening 30 minutes proved to be an immediate test for the new backline which saw numerous clearances by OKC and an FC Tulsa goal overturned by an offsides call.
In the 30th minute, Tulsa forward Joaquin Rivas broke open the scoring by finishing off a precisely placed cross from defender Jorge Luis Corrales, trotting off and “shushing” the home crowd behind the goal.
His bold gesture was quickly followed with a jaw-dropping goal.
Gathering a ball thrown into the box, Rivas struck a volley that looped over the head of Energy Goalkeeper C.J. Cochran to give the Tulsa Forward a first-half brace.
The Energy spent a majority of the first half on their heels, reacting to a precise and deliberate FC Tulsa attack that was not able to be countered with the absence of forwards Frank Lopez and Jaime Chavez.
The second half began with the referee missing a handball by a Tulsa defender in front his own goal which was clearly grounds for an OKC penalty kick. Without the utilization of VAR, the complaints of the Energy squad were met with no sympathy from the officials.
Despite the missed chance to shorten the lead, the Energy picked up the pace offensively in the second half, creating more opportunities on the Tulsa side of the pitch and spending far less time defending by elongating their possessions.
Their improved offensive play was rewarded in the 76th minute when newly acquired defender and team captain Conor Donovan was able to head home a free-kick to cut FC Tulsa’s lead in half.
Energy midfielder Tucker Stephenson had a chance to tie the game in the 82nd minute but ran out of time on a through-ball that snaked its way through the Tulsa defense.
Just nine minutes later, FC Tulsa scored the fate-sealing goal when forward Darío Suárez was able to knock in a loose ball in the box, giving Tulsa their two goal advantage right back until the final whistle.
Losing the first leg of the Black Gold Derby will serve as a true challenge for the Greens to win back “The Wrench” when they meet again July 2nd, as well as on July 17th and October 31st.
The Energy play again next Saturday against Atlanta United 2 in Oklahoma City at 7:30 p.m. and will be streamable on ESPN+.