FC Tulsa's Matt Sheldon and OKC Energy FC's Zach Ellis-Hayden are set for action as the Black Gold Derby kicks off the 2021 USL Championship season for both clubs. | Photo courtesy Steven Christy / OKC Energy FC
OKLAHOMA CITY – The first of four editions of the Black Gold Derby this regular season kicks off the 2021 USL Championship campaign on Saturday night as OKC Energy FC plays host to FC Tulsa at Taft Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET.
@EnergyFC (0-0-0, 0pts) is aiming for a major improvement on the field in Head Coach John Pascarella’s second season at the helm after finishing last in Group D a season ago on points-per-game average. The side returns some key pieces including forward Frank Lopez and goalkeeper CJ Cochran, but the side has looked to upgrade elsewhere, acquiring both Aidan Daniels and Hiroki Kurimoto via transfer from Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC and signing Villyan Bijev in free agency. The new faces will hope to make a big impact in their first league appearances for the Greens this year.
@FCTulsa (0-0-0, 0pts) is looking to build on its second playoff appearance in club history in 2020 – which also saw it claim the Victory Wrench from its in-state rival – and has added some impressive pieces to a strong returning core this offseason. At the forefront is forward Jerome Kiesewetter, who notched 12 goals for El Paso Locomotive FC in 2019 before spending the 2020 season with Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami CF. Tulsa has also brought back Cuban international Jorge Corrales for his second stint at the club after three seasons in Major League Soccer and El Salvador international Joaquin Rivas. With familiar faces such as Bradley Bourgeois, Rodrigo Da Costa, Lebo Moloto and 2020 leading scorer Dario Suarez also back, expectations are high going into the new campaign.
FiveThirtyEight.com Match Predictor: OKC Energy FC 36%, FC Tulsa 37%, Draw 27%
OKC Energy FC – None
FC Tulsa – None