Energy FC notches first home win

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Energy FC striker Philip Lund puts the pressure on New York defenders Saturday night.
Energy FC team captain Michael Thomas scored the game's only goal in stoppage time to give Oklahoma City its first home win of the season.
Michael Thomas chases down ball during home game.
Christian Duke prepares to cross the ball during recent action. Duke assisted on Energy FC's only goal Saturday night in the 1-0 win over New York.
Although Energy FC had been on a six-game losing streak, another sellout crowd cheered the home team to victory Saturday.

Energy FC notches first home win

By Tim Farley

The monkey is gone and OKC Energy FC can relax.

For the first time in four tries, head coach Jimmy Nielsen and his players walked away with a home victory Saturday night, but it didn’t come easy.

After 90 minutes of regulation play, Energy FC had battled the New York Red Bull Reserves to a 0-0 draw and it looked like it might end that way. However, Energy captain Michael Thomas had other ideas when he headed the ball to into the left corner of the net off a corner kick by Christian Duke with seconds remaining in stoppage time.

“That was a great team victory for us and we battled for 90 minutes,” Thomas said. “We deserved those three points and we’re hoping this is a turnaround for us.”

The win improved Energy FC’s record to 3-7 while ending a six-game losing streak, including three at Pribil Stadium in Oklahoma City.

Thomas had a scoring chance in the first half when his shot from about 20 yards out caromed off the right post of the New York goal. About a minute later, Energy FC’s David Leichty got behind the New York defense on a Peabo Doue free kick, but Red Bull goalkeeper slid over and knocked the ball away.

Later, in first half stoppage time, Thomas had another chance to score in close, but his header sailed over the crossbar.

Nielsen was happy after the game as the Energy finally gave the hometown crowd something to cheer about.
“I’m very happy for not only our players, but all the fans and the organization, too. There’s a lot of hard-working guys around this team and it’s nice to stand here after a great win,” he said in a post-game press conference.

Although there were several other sporting events Saturday night, including the Oklahoma City-San Antonio playoff game, Energy FC had another sellout crowd of 3,777 people.

“That just shows how soccer is growing in this city and the passion they have and how they’re still behind us,” Nielsen said. “It’s a big relief we could finally get them (fans) a victory.”

From beginning to end, Oklahoma City’s energy level remained high with 5-5 midfielder Abraham Villon providing a much-needed spark in his first start of the season.

“I hadn’t been playing the first part of the season and was waiting for my time. I wanted to give my all for the team and I tried to do that today,” he said.

Villon, a San Diego State product, won several 50-50 balls and helped generate an offensive attack that was lacking in previous home games.

“It feels great (to get the win). We’ve been working very hard these past few weeks. We’re coming off a loss but we came together tonight and bonded as a team and we’re starting to jell well right now,” he said.

Oklahoma City outshot New York 13-9 with Thomas taking five shots on goal. Starting striker Philip Lund was credited with three shots on goal during his 73 minutes of play.

Previous matches

Energy FC dropped a 5-0 decision to LA Galaxy II during a match on the West Coast May 25. Five of Oklahoma City’s seven losses have come to the top three teams in the United Soccer League Pro division – LA Galaxy II, Orlando City SC and last year’s league champion Richmond Kickers.
Oklahoma City also dropped a 2-1 game to Arizona United SC in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup last Wednesday. Energy FC sent the game into overtime after Kyle Greig scored on a header in stoppage time. Arizona scored the winning goal in the 112th minute. The loss eliminated Energy FC from the tournament.
Energy FC goes on the road for its next two games at Wilmington June 6 and at Charlotte June 7. The team returns home for a June 14 match with Sacramento, which will be the first of six consecutive home games.

Energy FC’s next match is Friday, June 6, when the squad travels to Wilmington, North Carolina to face the Wilmington Hammerheads in a 6:30 pm CT start.

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