Controversial no-call leaves Energy FC with 0-0 draw

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Energy FC midfielder Abraham Villon plays the ball toward the Rochester goal during Sunday's match at Pribil Stadium.
Oklahoma City defender Gareth Evans tries to pull away from a Rochester defender.Oklahoma City defender Gareth Evans tries to pull away from a Rochester defender.
What goes up must come down as Energy FC's Gareth Evans and two Rochester plays prepare to head the ball.What goes up must come down as Energy FC's Gareth Evans and two Rochester plays prepare to head the ball.What goes up must come down as Energy FC's Gareth Evans and two Rochester plays prepare to head the ball.
OKC goalkeeper Jon Kempin makes a save during Sunday's match. Kempin was named Man of the Match for his play.
Mark Howard shields the ball from a Rochester player.
Energy FC team captain Michael Thomas plays the ball despite defensive pressure.
Oklahoma City forward Mikey Lopez heads the ball forward.
Energy FC forward Paul Wyatt tries to split two Rochester defenders.
Michael Thomas wins the battle for the ball
Defender Peabo Doue plays keep away from a Rochester forward.
Oklahoma City forward Adda Djeziri asks the question, "Where's the ball?"

Controversial no-call leaves Energy FC with 0-0 draw

By Tim Farley

Energy FC head coach Jimmy Nielsen didn’t know whether to celebrate or hang his head following a controversial 0-0 draw with the Rochester Rhinos Sunday night at Pribil Stadium.

Late in the second half, Oklahoma City midfielder Nate Shiffman found a wide open Steven Perry with a clear lane to the Rochester net from about 20 yards out. As Perry moved into the penalty box to shoot, Rhinos goalkeeper John McCarthy made a diving save and tripped Perry, but no penalty kick was awarded for the apparent foul.

“On the sideline, you could hear the contact,” said Nielsen, a former goalkeeper with Kansas City Sporting FC of the MLS. “It was just a bad no-call. It was a big mistake by the referee. As a keeper, you know when you’re taking the guy down or not. I talked to their keeper after the game and he said it was 100 percent a PK.”

Nevertheless, Oklahoma City picked up a point in the United Soccer League Pro division standings and is now tied with Arizona for ninth place.

Rochester had its share of scoring opportunities, including a close range shot by Rhino Jossimar Sanchez during the 41st minute. Energy FC keeper Jon Kempin, named Man of the Match, made the stop to keep the game scoreless. Rochester also missed on three close-range headers late in the second half.

The draw left Nielsen with mixed emotions, especially since his team had two wins and two ties in its previous four matches while playing a more confident, up tempo style. Earlier in the season, Energy FC suffered through a six-game losing streak.

“It was an OK performance,” he said. “They gave everything they had, but I think we lacked some quality with our passes and keeping possession. We were struggling to create the big (scoring) chances. I can’t figure out if I should be happy or disappointed.”

A few weeks ago, Nielsen and his players might have been ecstatic about a tie, but not now.

“It makes me feel good that Jon had a clean sheet (shutout) tonight, but we’re hungry now and we want more than a tie. We wanted those three (standings) points,” the coach said. “It’s a positive thing that I’m standing here and wanting more.”

The tie left Energy FC with a record of 4-7-3 while fourth-place Rochester dropped to 6-4-6.
Kempin credited the team’s defensive play for the draw.

“Our defense has been incredibly good the past weeks,” he said. “Our overall play wasn’t the best we’ve had but we still fought hard. Rochester is a very good team. They beat DC United (of the MLS) and LA Galaxy. Given that, we came out well.”

Team captain Michael Thomas described Kempin as the team’s defensive anchor.

“Him playing well helps us play well,” he said. “It’s a real battle every game with these (USL Pro) teams. We’re showing more composure on the ball, all of us. It wasn’t the result we wanted tonight, but a point at home is good. We just need to keep going with it. We can put teams like this away.”

Energy FC returns to action 7 p.m. Saturday when Sacramento Republic FC makes its second appearance at Pribil Stadium. Oklahoma City defeated Sacramento 2-0 on June 14 in a highly-spirited game that included a player ejection and several yellow cards. Sacramento is currently tied for fourth with Rochester.

Aided by a south wind of about 16 miles per hour, Rochester outshot Energy FC 7-1 in the second half. For the game, Rochester outshot Oklahoma City 11-8.

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