OKLAHOMA CITY – FC Tulsa’s Joaquin Rivas scored twice on his 100th regular season appearance in the USL Championship to lead the visitors to a 3-1 victory against OKC Energy FC on Saturday night at Taft Stadium in the first Black Gold Derby of the 2021 campaign.
A choppy opening between the in-state rivals produced some physical play, but little in the way of goalmouth action. When the first chance arrived, in fact, it came off a broken play as Tulsa’s Eric Bird first had a shot blocked by OKC’s Conor Donovan before he tried to flip a pass off the rebound to Rodrigo Da Costa, who had strayed into an offside position looking for a potential rebound on the initial shot.
Da Costa had a role to play in Tulsa’s opening goal in the 29th minute, however, as he cleverly dummied a low cross from the left by Jorge Corrales that allowed the ball to run through to Rivas, unmarked for a simple finish just inside the six-yard area. If the El Salvador international’s opening goal showed off his shooting power, his second seven minutes later showed off his touch. After a ball into the penalty area from the left was kept alive, a header by Matt Sheldon set up perfectly for Rivas to hit a looping volley from the left side of the penalty area into the right corner of the net.
Sheldon almost added a third shortly before halftime as he knifed into the penalty area on the right and went to shoot high at the near post, only to be denied by the post as OKC goalkeeper CJ Cochran got a fingertip to the effort. Energy FC was then denied a goal back early in the second half as a well-worked central free kick was headed back across goal for Mitch Osmond, but his effort was blocked by Modou Jadama, the referee waving away appeals for handball against the Tulsa center back.
The host found the net with 14 minutes to go, however, as a free kick on the left by Villyan Bijev floated tantalizingly into the penalty area and allowed Donovan to flick home a header into the bottom-right corner of the net. There was no comeback for OKC, however, as Tulsa added an insurance goal in fortuitous circumstances when Jadama recycled a corner kick and chipped a ball into the penalty area that Cochran was unable to claim. The loose ball then caromed off Tulsa’s Dario Suarez and into the open net, sealing the win for the visitors.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Joaquin Rivas, FC Tulsa – Rivas’ two goals lifted Tulsa into a lead it wouldn’t relinquish, with the second a sublime finish to mark his 100th regular-season appearance.
TUL – Joaquin Rivas (Jorge Corrales) 29’
TUL – Joaquin Rivas (Matt Sheldon) 36’
OKC – Conor Donovan (Villyan Bijev) 76’
TUL – Dario Suarez 87’