Leichty’s late goal sparks Energy FC to 1-0 win

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Energy FC's Adda Djeziri tries to control the ball despite pressure from an Orange County defender.
Oklahoma City defender Gareth Evans heads the ball between two OC defenders during Saturday night's 1-0 win at Pribil Stadium.
Energy defender Mark Howard clears the ball. Howard was injured later in the game and had to be helped off the field.
Nate Shiffman boots the ball downfield.
Paul Wyatt heads the ball.
Oklahoma City defender Peabo Doue works against an OC forward.
After an attempt to head the ball, Peabo Doue lands on the back of an Orange County player.

Leichty’s late goal sparks Energy FC to 1-0 win

By Tim Farley

David Leichty notched his first professional goal Saturday night as the 19-year-old midfielder sparked Oklahoma City Energy FC to a dramatic 1-0 win over Orange County Blues FC at Pribil Stadium.

Leichty was inserted into the lineup during the 79th minute, proving to be a critical substitution for Energy FC, which has won its last two games. The win gave Oklahoma City (8-8-5) sole possession of sixth place in the United Soccer League Pro division. The top eight teams advance to the playoffs. Energy has seven games remaining in the regular season, including three at home. Oklahoma City had several scoring chances prior to Leichty’s goal, but couldn’t convert. However, the youngster from Overland Park, Kan., had no qualms taking his shot that found its way into the lower right corner of the Orange County net during the 88th minute. Orange County defenders failed to clear the ball after a corner kick by Energy FC’s Abraham Villon. The ball bounced straight to Leichty who was standing outside the penalty box when he took the game-winning shot.

“I’m happy for him (Leichty),” said Energy FC head coach Jimmy Nielsen. “He wasn’t able to travel with us on our road game because he was sick but he came back and had a good week of practice.”

Scoring his first pro goal is something Leichty will remember for a long time.

“It felt good. It was a deflection that came straight to me. I took a touch and then shot the ball. We had been working for 85, 86 minutes and finally got the goal,” said Leichty, who is the youngster player on the Energy FC roster. “We’re fighting for the playoffs to get a spot so it’s good to pick up those three (standings) points. It just shows how resilient we are.”

Moments before Leichty’s goal, Energy FC’s Steven Perry had the match’s best scoring chance when he fielded a pass from teammate Nate Shiffman for a breakaway opportunity. However, his shot was knocked wide of the Orange County net with a sliding save by Blues goalkeeper Aaron Perez. Leichty’s goal was the result of the corner kick that proceeded Perry’s breakaway.

Despite the win, Nielsen had critical remarks about the team’s overall play.

“We struggled tonight. There was too much individual stuff. We were all over the place. Still, not to play well and have three points is good and a big step in the right direction,” he said. “The guys believed they could do it tonight.”

When asked about winning despite not playing their best game, Nielsen said, “If you look at the big picture and the way this group of guys is coming together, we have the momentum. Good teams win on bad days.”

Oklahoma City outshot Orange County 12-6 for the game as Energy FC keeper Samir Badr notched his second consecutive shutout and third in his six starts since taking over as the team’s No. 1 keeper. Energy FC defeated Dayton 3-0 on July 26.

However, Badr wasn’t taking much of the credit for Saturday’s clean sheet.

“We came together defensively,” he said. “Most of the credit goes to those guys (teammates). The defense has a lot to do with that.”

Orange County had four shots on goal in the first half and only two in the second half.
Oklahoma City has either won or tied 11 of its last 12 games. The team’s only loss during that stretch was a 1-0 setback to LA Galaxy II on July 19.

Energy FC travels to fourth-place Sacramento for an Aug. 9 match. Oklahoma City defeated Sacramento 2-0 twice this season. Energy FC returns home for two games against Arizona on Aug. 14 and LA Galaxy II on Aug. 17. Oklahoma City’s final home game is Aug. 24 against Charleston.

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