Energy FC looks for return trip to playoffs

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Energy FC looks for return trip to playoffs

14 players back from 2015 roster as team heads to Florida training camp

By Tim Farley

Oklahoma City Energy FC kicks of its third season in late March as the team and its coaching staff anticipates a return trip to the playoffs.

Fourteen players from the 2015 squad return this season, a fact that will allow the team to focus on winning games instead of learning to play together, head coach Jimmie Nielsen said.

Returning for their third year in an Energy FC uniform are Michael Thomas, Gareth Evans, Cyprian Hedrick and former Norman North goalkeeper Ray Clark. Also returning from last year’s squad are Danni Konig, Sebastian Dalgaard, Casey Townsend, Peter Toth, Michael Byskov, Chuy Sanchez, Daniel Gonzalez, Michael Harris, Coady Andrews and Kalen Ryden.

Missing from this year’s team, however, is goalkeeper Evan Newton who signed with Sacramento during the off-season. As a result, Energy FC brought in Cody Laurendi, who played with Austin last season and was on the LA Galaxy II roster in 2014. Laurendi finished last season with a 5-5-2 record, tallied 49 saves in 13 matches and recorded two shutouts.

Energy FC currently is in Bradenton, Fla., where they’ll hold training camp the next three weeks. While there, the Oklahoma City team will play a series of exhibition matches beginning with New York City FC of Major League Soccer. Energy FC will tackle HB Koge, a Danish team, on Feb. 17 and wrap up the exhibition schedule against USL expansion team Orlando City Brevard on Feb. 21.

Energy FC will return to Oklahoma City Feb. 22, five days before its final preseason tuneup against FC Dallas. Oklahoma City and Dallas, of the MLS, entered an affiliation agreement in January. Energy FC had been affiliated with the Sporting KC the last two seasons.

Another highlight during the off-season was the addition of a Premier Development League team in Oklahoma City. The U-23 squad will consist of high-caliber college players who will play their schedule during the summer.

Energy FC made the playoffs last year, but ended the season on a downer, dropping a 2-1 semifinal game to Los Angeles Galaxy II. Prior to that, Energy FC won a first-round thriller over Colorado Springs as the game advanced to the penalty kick phase.

Energy FC kicks off its regular season March 26 against Colorado Springs in a 7 p.m. matchup at Taft Stadium in Oklahoma City. The Energy will play a 30-game schedule this season, an increase of two matches from 2015. All but one home game played in March, April, May and June will start at 7 p.m. The lone exception is the May 15 matchup against San Antonio, which starts at 6 p.m.

All home games played during July and August will have a 7:30 p.m. start time. All home games in September will start at 6 p.m.

Energy FC played its home games last season at Taft Stadium, which underwent major renovations a year earlier. Taft Stadium traditionally has been the site for high school football games. Last season, Energy FC averaged 4,635 fans, a significant increase over the 3,784 fans that attended matches in 2014.

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