TULSA – Pro sports are officially back at ONEOK Field on Saturday, April 17.
FC Tulsa makes its return home fresh off a record-breaking 2020 season, the best in franchise history and first under the ownership of the Craft brothers.
Saturday afternoon’s 2 p.m. kickoff will mark the start of FC Tulsa’s 17-match home schedule at ONEOK, but will be the finale of the 2021 preseason.
"I think first and foremost we’ve been going at it for five or six weeks so everything we’ve worked on so far starts to be evident in the game, so what we put into practice has to show itself in the game," said Michael Nsien, head coach. "The players that start the match, we expect to show that they’re the potential eleven for the first match. So, it’s important that they show up in dynamics and get an understanding of what we want. And then just try to find the right speed; five months without a really professional game is difficult, so we want to find our professional speed tomorrow.”
While the players will take center stage on Saturday, FC Tulsa will be playing for a worthy cause. The match will be presented by the Tulsa Area United Way, one of the largest non-profit organizations in the city of Tulsa. With the partnership, FC Tulsa will donate $3 from every ticket sold back to the Tulsa Area United Way, up to $10,000.
Fans watching from home will have a chance to witness another piece of franchise history – the first FC Tulsa match aired on local network television. FC Tulsa’s broadcast partner, Fox23, will air the match on “big Fox” for the first time ever. That broadcast will allow FC Tulsa a grand stage to showcase the growth of the club since the new era of ownership took over in August of 2019. All 32 regular season matches will air on Fox23's sister station, My41.
"I think what that does for the players obviously is exposure nationally, but I just think in terms of the community I want these players to feel like celebrities here," said Nsien on the game being televised. "The more their faces are in front of the fans and community, the more confidence they get, and the more people will want to support and come out to the games.”
ABOUT AUSTIN BOLD FC
The two clubs come into Saturday’s preseason match with a sense of familiarity, having faced off three times during 2020’s shortened season. All three matches were hotly contested, with two of them ending in a 2-2 draw, and the other ending 1-1. With FC Tulsa’s move to the Eastern Conference in 2021, the rivalry with Austin won’t be as prevalent on this year’s slate, however the club’s will meet in the regular season on 918 Day in September.
Representing the Mountain Division in the USL’s Western Conference, Austin Bold FC enters Saturday’s match against FC Tulsa with a mixed bag of preseason results in their back pocket. Starting their preseason against two MLS clubs, they came up short against Houston Dynamo FC on March 20th, losing 2-0, and followed it up with a 3-0 defeat against FC Dallas on March 24th. Bold FC rebounded with a 6-1 win against Round Rocks SC of the UPSL on March 27th, followed by a 1-1 draw with Rio Grande Valley FC last Sunday. In their fifth preseason match this past Wednesday, they defeated OKC Energy FC 1-0.
FC Tulsa has played Austin Bold FC six times over the two previous seasons of Austin's existence. Austin won all three matches in 2019 before the teams drew all three times in 2020.