The 2018 campaign began with three points against our rivals, so you really can’t ask for much more. Maybe another goal or two but three points are three points. FC Dallas loanee Francis Atuahene opened up his account on his professional debut with a solo strike in the 6th minute. His goal proved to be the difference as Energy FC held on to keep a clean sheet.
Energy FC were the better side over the 90 minutes and created several quality chances that players in midseason form might have put away. OKC ended the night with 21 shots, 5 of which were on target. Matt Van Oekel was rarely tested as Tulsa had 11 shots and just 2 on goal. Energy FC also earned six corners while Tulsa had none.
The opener marked the OKC debut for two local players, Christian Ibeagha and Justin Chavez. Ibeagha played the full 90 and Chavez came in for Jose Barril in the 86th minute to help secure the points. All three FC Dallas loanees featured and made their professional debuts with Jordan Cano and Francis Atuahene named in the starting XI. Ema Twumasi came on in the 60th minute.
Saturday’s victory also marked the first time Energy FC have won their home opener since 2015 and the first time they’ve won a season opener since 2014.
Energy FC’s next fixture will likely prove to be much tougher as they head back to Arizona for a matchup with Phoenix Rising FC. OKC battled back from 2-0 down to draw with Phoenix on March 9 at Phoenix Rising Stadium in the last preseason match for the Greens. Jason Johnson’s brace was canceled out by goals from Jon Brown and Francis Atuahene.
Picked by many to win the Western Conference this year, Phoenix started their USL season with a 1-1 draw away to Orange County SC. Solomon Asante scored off a Billy Forbes cross in the 11th minute, but Orange County were able to level in the 90th. Billy Forbes, who was named in the 2017 USL All-League Second Team while with San Antonio, was one of the biggest moves of the offseason.
PHX started with a 4-2-3-1 formation: Woszczynski; Dia, da Fonte, Mala, Dubose; Fernandez, Lambert; Forbes (Riggi 74’), Awako, Asante (Frater 60’); Johnson. The unused substitutes were Lubin, Cortez, Waldrep, Wakasa, and Vasquez.
Who to look out for:
Forbes and Asante. The two combined for Phoenix’s only goal on the night and with their speed, always look threatening on the counter attack. In addition to his goal, Asante completed 84.6 percent of his passes and was named USLSoccer.com Man of the Match.
Forbes was just called up to the Turks and Caicos national team for their friendly against the Dominican Republic, so it's uncertain how this will affect his selection for Saturday.
Energy supporters will also be on the lookout for Jordan Johnson, who scored against the Greens last May in a 2-1 victory for Phoenix at home.
Didier Drogba confirmed he will retire from football at the end of this season. Drogba, 40, has appeared 14 times since his move to Phoenix in 2017, netting 10 goals. He was not in the squad for the season opener but did take part in several preseason matches.
OKC and PHX played twice last season with PHX winning 2-1 at Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex in May and OKC winning the matchup at Taft Stadium 3-2 in June.
Saturday’s match will kick off at 9 p.m. CDT at Phoenix Rising Soccer Complex.