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Announcing the FC Tulsa End of Season Player Awards

By FC Tulsa, 11/10/21, 1:57PM CST

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Both Players and Fans Had the Chance to Honor FC Tulsa's Standout Players and Moments of 2021 Season

At the beginning of every offseason, FC Tulsa likes to take the time to reflect on the preceding season and honor a few players that stood out. Players and coaches get the opportunity to bring attention to their peers for their standout performances. Categories voted on include Academy Player of the Year, Newcomer of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Offensive Player of the Year, and club MVP. 

In addition to these player-voted awards, fans also had the chance to vote on two awards as well, the Moment of the Year and the fan MVP as well. FC Tulsa also honored one player as the FC Tulsa Community Man of the Year for his volunteer efforts and contributions in the local Tulsa community.


COMMUNITY MAN OF THE YEAR – ERIC BIRD

FC Tulsa takes pride in being able to aid in its community and give back to a support system that has been so good to the club. “For Tulsa” does not just mean “for soccer fans living in Tulsa,” but the community as a whole and everyone who works to make this city what it is.

This sentiment is one echoed by the players emphasize too as 24 players have been involved in community events this season to represent the club, but Eric Bird stood out.

Bird visited Jenks Southeast Elementary School to help award the Impact ball to its students. He also showed his support for those who fight to protect us every day by helping the Tulsa Police Department at its soccer practice leading up to the First Responders Cup between the Tulsa Police and Tulsa Fire departments. Bird has left just as big of a mark off the pitch as he has on it.


ACADEMY PLAYER OF THE YEAR – JESUS HERNANDEZ

FC Tulsa wants to put an emphasis on developing talent, both locally and internationally. The club has an excellent group of young academy players and is very excited about their futures as players.

The mindset an Academy player must have is one of patience, understanding, and dedication. FC Tulsa Academy players train every day with the senior squad, knowing the odds of them seeing any game action are very minimal.

Yet Jesus Hernandez trains hard every day, has a passion for improving, and has made four appearances in the 18 for FC Tulsa this season. His teammates have taken notice of both his talent and dedication to improving his craft, voting him the standout FC Tulsa Academy player. 


NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR – KEMBO KIBATO

A lot was asked of Kibato this season, a player on loan from RGV Toros FC. He started the season in an attacking role but was asked to slide into a more defensive position as the season went on. He impressed in both roles, scoring twice for the club along with one assist and proved stout in the midfield.

Joining the FC Tulsa on loan, Kibato was unaware of how much playing time he would get and how long he would even be at the club.

However, his fantastic performances earned him 30 appearances in 32 matches this season, tying him for second-most on the club to go along with his 16 starts.


DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR – BRADLEY BOURGEOIS

Whether Bourgeois was lined up at center-back or streaking down the wing as a right-back, it is an exaggeration to say he’s the heart and soul of FC Tulsa. His understanding of the ebbs-and-flows of a match allowed him to be effective in the center of the pitch as well as in the wider areas. It can prove difficult for a defender to communicate with his backline based on the distance between players, but he always managed to do so effectively.

Bourgeois played through a broken bone in his foot for a match and continued to play after missing four matches despite the nagging injury.  

In tandem with his defensive ability, his goal and three assists prove just how complete of a player he is on the backline. He is a perfect six-for-six when it comes to making the Playoffs in his USL Championship career and hopefully Bourgeois continues to be the same good luck charm for FC Tulsa for years to come.


OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR  – MARLON

Marlon is the very definition of a pest for the opposition. He is seemingly everywhere on the pitch at once, no matter where he is slated to start. Marlon is a player that requires a game plan to contain from the 1’ minute, and when coming off the bench, he was impossible to stop.

His nine goals and three assists were crucial to the club’s success, showing how valuable it is to have a player on the wing that can score and distribute. The

Brazilian’s speed and arial ability are second to nobody on the pitch as Marlon regularly carved up opposing full-backs with grace and ease.

Nobody was as clutch for FC Tulsa as Marlon was this season, scoring four times beyond the 80’ minute. He fired towards goal 54 times this season, the most of any FC Tulsa player. He improved his season goal tally after scoring just three times in 2020 and quickly became a fan favorite as well.


2021 MOST VALUABLE PLAYER – RODRIGO DA COSTA

Rodrigo da Costa proved to be a menace to every USL Championship club that matched up with him this season. Like Kibato, he was asked to slide into more of a defensive role in the middle of the season due to injuries, hurting his goal and assist total but never complained about doing so. He led FC Tulsa with 11 goals, five assists, and 42 chances created this season.

There were only 8 players in the entire USL Championship who scored double-

digit goals and registered at least five assists as well, and da Costa was one of them. He reached 20 career goals and 20 assists in his USL career this season in only three seasons, a milestone not reached by many. 

He defended, set up his teammates to score, and converted scoring chances himself. He was also a fantastic leader as the vice-captain of the club.


FAN-VOTED 2021 MOST VALUABLE PLAYER – DARÍO SUÁREZ

Darío Suárez is a player who fans recognize as always giving maximum effort on the pitch and makes significant contributions to the club on a nightly basis, and the Cuban went through a season like no other this year.

He seemingly rattled off goals in every big match for the club, scoring nine times total. He had ice in his veins, becoming the go-to guy when it came to taking penalty kicks, going a perfect 4-for-4 from the spot. Suárez also had perhaps

the greatest goal of the season for the club in the playoff match at Tampa Bay, a knuckling shot ripped from over 25 yards out. The goal even got national recognition, making SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays of the night.

Suárez also battled back from a difficult injury, one that not every player would be able to come back from and seemingly not miss a beat, whether it came to his world-class goals or his world-class smile. He can always be seen high-fiving kids on gamedays and thanking the fans at every turn when not preoccupied rippling the back of the net.


FAN-VOTED MOMENT OF THE YEAR – WINNING THE WRENCH

For the third time in club history, FC Tulsa won the Wrench over OKC Energy FC. For the first time in club history, FC Tulsa defended the Wrench to make sure it stays right here in Tulsa through 2021 and plenty of time after that.

Joaquín Rivas’ electric goal to open the scoring had fans on their feet and they never sat back down. Marlon’s terrific effort down the wing put an emphatic cap on the night as OKC made the trip back home empty-handed.

83 United, FC Tulsa’s Supporters group, adopted a street right outside of Taft Stadium where OKC Energy FC plays and named it 83 United Ave. That way, every time Energy FC walks outside, they are reminded of who is the best club in Oklahoma. And when Energy FC travels to Tulsa and sees the Wrench in gold, it gets that same feeling.

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