Energy FC loses to Charleston 2-0

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Energy FC players Cyprian Hedrick (4) and Steven Perry (21) sandwich Charleston's Jared van Scaik during Sunday's match at Pribil Stadium.
Oklahoma City midfielder Dan Delgado is shoved by a Charleston defender during the Energy's 2-0 loss Sunday.
Kevin Ellis, who recently was with Kansas City Sporting FC of Major League Soccer, wins a header battle. Ellis played with Oklahoma City earlier this season. KC Sporting is the parent team of Energy FC.
Oklahoma City's Kyle Miller leaps high for a header.
Kyle Miller searches the ball after being knocked to the ground.
Oklahoma City forward Nate Polak is held from behind during first half action Sunday.
Nate Polak (27) locks arms and legs with a Charleston defender.
Nate Polak tries to flick the ball to a teammate
Energy FC's Nate Shiffman an Jose Cuevas compete for possession of the ball

Energy FC loses to Charleston 2-0

By Tim Farley

Oklahoma City didn’t do itself any favors Sunday night as the Charleston Battery posted a 2-0 win, making Energy FC a longshot to qualify for the United States Pro league playoffs.

Energy FC suffered its third consecutive shutout loss and fifth defeat in a row. At one point, Oklahoma City was tied for seventh in the USL standings, but the recent slump has pushed Energy FC into a tie for ninth. The top eight teams qualify for the playoffs.

“The last few weeks in the season we have not been good enough,” said Energy head coach Jimmy Nielsen. “We haven’t been able to step up. I recruited every single player on this team so I take responsibility for what’s happened.”

Oklahoma City (8-14-5) has played solid defense in the last four games, allowing only six goals. But on the offensive end, play has been abysmal with only two goals in those same four matches. Two of the four losses have come against Arizona, which at one point was in the league cellar. Now, Arizona is tied for eighth.

On Sunday, Charleston and Oklahoma City played to a 0-0 draw at halftime and it appeared the match might end scoreless. However, Charleston nixed that idea with a goal in the 79th minute when Amadou Sanyang headed a Jose Cuevas corner kick past Energy FC goalkeeper Samir Badr. About 10 minutes later, Charleston added an insurance goal when Heviel Cordoves took a turnaround shot from about 16 yards out that bounced over a diving Badr and into the Oklahoma City net.

Energy FC had a few chances to score, but were unable to capitalize on those opportunities which were few and far between. Charleston outshot Oklahoma City, 10-5.

The lack of shots was blamed on Energy FC players being “too patient” with the ball.

“There was not enough movement off the ball and the guys weren’t making the runs they needed to,” Nielsen said. “It seemed like we would pass and move, pass and move, pass and move but never took the shots or the chances we had.”

Nielsen labeled the first-half play as “OK” but added that “it was not good enough to win a game. We were standing and waiting to get the ball played our feet and you’re way too easy to defend.”

The four-game losing skid has been frustrating for Nielsen and the Energy FC fans, who have witnessed more home losses than wins this season.

“It really is disappointing when you’re not able to step up when it matters,” the coach said. “I probably expected too much from the guys.”

Playoff scenario

With two road games at Sacramento and Orange County left on the schedule, Energy FC has no choice but to win both matches. Wins in both games would give Oklahoma City 35 standings points, which still is no guarantee of a playoff berth.

The top four teams – Orlando City, Richmond, Sacramento and LA Galaxy II – have earned a playoff spot. However, nine other teams are fighting for the final four slots with only eight points separating fifth place Charleston with 35 points and Orange County Blues FC, which is in 10th place with 27 points.

Harrisburg is in sixth place with 34 points followed by Rochester in seventh with 32. Three teams – Arizona, Wilmington and Charlotte – are tied for eighth while Energy FC and Pittsburg are tied for ninth with 29 points.

Game Notes: Energy FC had its largest crowd of the season with 4,722 fans…Defender Kevin Ellis returned to Oklahoma City for Sunday’s game after spending the last three months with Kanas City Sporting FC of Major League Soccer. Energy FC is the feeder team for KC Sporting…Energy FC played without defenders Mark Howard and Tarek Morad who was suspended one game after receiving a red card in Friday’s 1-0 loss at Arizona…Team captain Michael Thomas missed his third game in a row after suffering an ankle injury and serving a one game suspension.

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