FC Tulsa earned the Black Gold Derby's Victory Wrench in 2020 with a thrilling 3-2 victory in its final meeting of the season with OKC Energy FC. | Photo courtesy FC Tulsa
Just over 100 miles separates Oklahoma City and Tulsa on the drive along I-44. That short distance coupled with the in-state bragging rights that come from claiming the Victory Wrench awarded to the winner of each year’s Black Gold Derby since the 2015 season has made for one of the strongest rivalries in the Championship’s history.
As the clubs get set to meet for the 20th time in the regular season to kick off the 2021 USL Championship campaign on Saturday night at Taft Stadium (8:30 p.m. ET | ESPN+), there’s a sense of anticipation building.
“I can’t think of anyone better to go and compete against and get the passion and the rivalry and the season kicked off at the right speed than Oklahoma City,” said FC Tulsa Head Coach Michael Nsien on Thursday. “Oklahoma City should bring out the best and worst in us. In terms of our mentality, our players are really up for it.”
Ahead of Saturday’s meeting, we’ve dug into the Championship’s video archive and found five of the most memorable goals from this rivalry’s recent history, and you get to decide which one was the standout moment so far in Black Gold Derby history.
The Spanish playmaker had success throughout his time in the Championship, but maybe his crowning moment came for OKC Energy FC against its biggest rival. Picking up possession in his own half, Barril zipped past opponents through the midfield, turned a challenging defender inside-out and then unleashed a brilliant strike into the top-left corner in a 2-0 victory at Taft Stadium.
Now back with FC Tulsa for the second time, Joaquin Rivas provided the finish but in 2018 it was teammate Jhon Pírez that produced the magic. After a long ball upfield by goalkeeper Fabian Cerda, Pírez controlled beautifully near the top-right edge of the penalty area and then picked out a superb back-heeled pass into the path of Rivas. The El Salvador international slotted home into the left corner and then went to thank Pírez for his moment of genius.
Sometimes, memorable isn’t always for the right reasons. In the case of former FC Tulsa goalkeeper Fabian Cerda, this was one of those moments. The Chilean – who had starred the previous season in helping Tulsa reach the USL Championship Playoffs for the first time – tried to show off his skills with then Energy FC forward Adam Jahn applying pressure. When Cerda’s adventurousness went awry, Jahn gladly took the chance to slot home.
Sometimes, memorable isn’t for the right reasons. In the case of former FC Tulsa goalkeeper Fabian Cerda, this was one of those moments. The Chilean – who had starred the previous season in helping Tulsa reach the USL Championship Playoffs for the first time – tried to show off his skills with then Energy FC forward Adam Jahn applying pressure. When Cerda’s adventurousness went awry, Jahn gladly took the chance to slot home.
With the teams having drawn their first two meetings of the season last year, the Victory Wrench was on the line as they met at ONEOK Field in the final week of the campaign and produced maybe the most memorable game in the series so far. Certainly, it contained two spectacular finishes, the first coming from Energy FC’s Tucker Stephenson early in the second half, a rocket from the left side that caromed in off the right post and into the back of the net.
Stephenson’s goal gave OKC the lead, and a chance at a redeeming victory in what had been a tough season. Then, FC Tulsa’s Tobenna Uzo took center stage. Coming on as a second-half substitute, Uzo first produced an equalizer with 11 minutes to go, and then pulled out a remarkable diving header from just inside the top of the penalty area on a ball by Christian Altamirano with two minutes to go. It proved the winner, earning Tulsa both the Victory Wrench and paving the way to a place in the USL Championship Playoffs.