By Ryan Chapman, Sports Editor
OKLAHOMA CITY- A complete 90 minute performance had eluded the Energy for most of May in league play.
Two weeks ago, after a dominant opening half in Austin, the game turned and Austin came from behind to steal the win.
Last week, on the final kick of the game the Energy conceded and had to settle for a draw.
Saturday night against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, they held on for the win.
The Switchbacks nearly took an early lead. In the sixth
minute, Je Vaughn Watson and Christian Ibeagha were caught trying to be too
cute in their own penalty area, and Ibeagha gave the ball away to Colorado
Springs. If not for Alvin Jones throwing his body at the ball to block the
shot, Matt Hundley could have fired the Switchbacks in front.
Other than the early chance, the Energy pinned Colorado Springs into their own half, sending numbers forward in attack.
Omar Gordon put the Energy in front in the 16th minute. Alexy Bosetti found Gordon streaking behind the defense and played him in. On his first touch, Gordon rocketed a shot into the roof of the net for his fourth goal of the campaign.
“Fantastic goal,” Energy coach Steve Cooke said. “I thought the volley was fantastic. A really top class pass and a really top class finish by Omar.”
Over the next few minutes, Deshorn Brown had two great chances to extend Oklahoma City’s lead, but was unable to find the back of the net.
As has been the case in many games this season, the Energy headed into the break ahead, but perhaps wishing they had converted one or two more chances into goals to cushion their advantage.
“We got the first goal and I think we’re just a moment away from killing the game with that second or third goal,” Cooke said. We’ve got to be a bit more ruthless when we have teams on the rack like that.”
Oklahoma City looked to regret not being more clinical in front of goal early in the second half.
in the 54th minute, Je Vaughn Watson was called for a handball in his own penalty area. Switchbacks forward Jordan Burt stepped up to the spot, but spayed his penalty wide of the goal.
In the 65th minute, the game took an odd turn.
Lightening filled the night sky, and rain began to fall on Taft Stadium. As fans began to head for their cars, the game played on. The lightening never struck within five miles of the stadium, so the game wasn’t halted, but the atmosphere was sucked out of the stadium and the Energy lost their home field advantage headed into the final 20 minutes of the game.
Cooke was never worried about his team’s focus with the weather impending.
“I don’t think it was an issue in the game and the players kept working. They’re great professionals, the group we have are very experienced so they’ve been through a lot of games in these situations so they’re fully focused and mentally strong,” he said.
Goalkeeper Cody Laurendi echoed his manager’s thoughts on the weather.
“We heard it obviously but not anything that we really key in on,” he said.
To the credit of the players, the changes around them didn’t seem to impact them at all. They played out a sturdy closing minutes of the match to hold the Switchbacks scoreless and earn the win.
Laurendi felt the memories of settling for a draw on the last kick of the game last week helped the team push to close out the win this week.
“That gives us our little extra push, 5-10 percent more, to win the ball higher up the field and keep the ball at their end. But every game is different, every game poses new challenges so we deal with the task in front of us,” he said.
The Energy next face the league leaders Tampa Bay Rowdies on Tuesday in the U.S. Open Cup. Tampa Bay remains the only unbeaten team in either conference in the USL. The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. from John Crain Field on the campus of the University of Oklahoma. Fans may gain admission by showing a purchased ticket to the match against LA Galaxy II on June 1st.