Energy FC Rolls Past Sacramento, 2-0

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Energy FC midfielder Abraham Villon takes forearm to the throat as competes for the ball during Saturday's 2-0 win over Sacramento.
Oklahoma City's Christian Duke handles the ball during first half action. Duke assisted on the Energy's first goal.
Energy defender Gareth Evans clears the ball out of the defensive zone.
Energy FC and Sacramento players scuffle in front of the Oklahoma City goal during first half action. The fight ended with the ejection of Sacramento midfielder Ivan Mirkovic.
Oklahoma City team captain Michael Thomas battles for the ball Saturday night. Thomas tallied Energy FC's second goal.
Midfielder Mikey Lopez tries to gain control of the ball.
Energy FC teammates congratulate Adda Djeziri after he scored the team's first goal.
Oklahoma City fans at the north end of Pribil Stadium cheer on the home team.

Energy FC Rolls Past Sacramento, 2-0

By Tim Farley

A first half brawl and ejection ignited Oklahoma City Energy FC to its second home win in a row, defeating the Sacramento Republic 2-0 Saturday night at Pribl Stadium.

The victory is part of a streak that includes a previous home win May 30 and two draws with Charlotte and Wilmington during an East Coast road trip last week. The win pushed Energy FC (4-7-2) into seventh place in the 14-team United Soccer League Pro division while Sacramento fell to 6-4-2.

The fight started in front of the Oklahoma City goal as a swarm of Sacramento players were trying to punch in an early first-half goal, but Energy FC defender Mark Howard inadvertently fell on the ball and was kicked several times prompting teammates to come to his defense.

Sacramento’s Ivan Mirkovic was ejected in the 31st minute after he made an intentional run from midfield to join the brawl.

Playing with a man advantage because of the ejection, Energy FC scored its first goal four minutes later when Adda Djeziri took a pass from Christian Duke on the left side of the Sacramento goal and shot the ball past diving Sacramento goalkeeper Dominil Jakubek.

Energy FC captain Michael Thomas said the brawl inspired the team.
“They (teammates) came to protect Mark like they would anytime. We had been playing lethargic before that,” he said.

Thomas tallied Energy FC’s second goal late in the second half when Steven Perry crossed the ball from the right side, allowing Thomas to chip the ball into the open side of the Sacramento net for his second goal of the season.

“David (Leichty) and Perry were patient with the ball, which allowed me to make a late run into the box and finish the play,” Thomas said.

Saturday’s win was an extension of the team’s continued confidence and team building efforts.

“We’re in it for each other. We wanted it for each other and that was evident,” Thomas said.
Head coach Jimmy Nielsen said he was pleased with the overall defensive effort as the team notched its second shutout in four games, while allowing only two goals during that same stretch.

“We gave up one chance before the red card (ejection) and after that we had good control and scored one goal,” he said. “We had some good moments when we played very good soccer. We played smart and didn’t give up a lot. We were playing with a big heart.”

Sacramento’s best chance to score occurred in the 29th minute when, off a free kick by Rodrigo Lopez, the ball ricocheted off a number of players in the Energy’s six-yard box, but Oklahoma City keeper Jon Kempin was able to make a diving save to keep the match scoreless.

Despite being outshot 10-8, Oklahoma City still had five shots on goal while Sacramento had only one.

Aside from the first half ejection, the game proved rather rough on both sides as the referee issued six yellow cards between the two teams.

Saturday’s match was the fifth consecutive sellout with 4,010 fans in attendance.

Oklahoma City will host Rochester June 22 in the second of six consecutive home games. Game time is 7 p.m.

Sacramento returns to Pribil Stadium for a revenge match June 28. A webcast of all games can be seen on YouTubeLive (OKCEnergyFC). Live radio broadcasts are on 96.1 FM KXY with Jack Damrill as the play-by-play announcer and Mo Boreham serving as the color commentator.

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