By Ryan Chapman, Sports Editor
NORMAN– Whoever said soccer was supposed to be dull clearly didn’t relay the message to Energy FC and the Tampa Bay Rowdies.
After a nearly two and a half hour weather delay, both teams treated the remaining fans to an explosive 4-3 game, snapping Tampa Bay’s 13 game unbeaten run to start the season.
“It was a crazy one for sure,” Energy coach Steve Cooke said.
Oklahoma City’s best kept secret Alexy Bosetti shined for the Energy, firing the Greens into the fourth round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with a superb goal and two assists.
“I felt good tonight, I am good with two assists and one goal, it was a good night for me,” Bosetti said after the win.
Omar Gordon did not make the handful of fans who braved the weather wait very long for the excitement to start.
Merely three minutes into the game, Gordon scored his second goal in as many games with another goal of the week nominee, blasting the ball into the near post from 18 yards out.
The Energy lead didn’t last long.
In the 20th minute, Energy defender Alvin Jones stepped up to Rowdies forward Antoine Hoppenot, who went to ground rather easily. The penalty was awarded however, and Brandon Allen stepped up and hammered the penalty kick home.
“Well for me there’s no way it was a penalty. I think the lad’s just pushed against Alvin in fact. I think it was dubious to say the least,” Cooke said. “For me it’s clearly not a penalty.”
Oklahoma City then did something they haven’t done much all year: they fell behind, and answered the call with a forceful response.
Five minutes after earning the penalty kick to tie the game, Hoppenot added a goal of his own.
Bosetti then took over the half.
In the closing minutes of the first half, Bosetti hit a beautiful strike with the outside of his foot, curling the ball into the back post. He then played an inch perfect ball behind the defense, allowing Christian Eissele to run in behind and give OKC the 3-2 lead at the break.
“I scored like this with Nice in League 1 when I was younger, and I told myself ‘why not?’ and it went in,” Bosetti said.
Though the Energy have been known to play in high scoring affairs this season, the Tampa Bay Rowdies proved to be out of their element.
The Rowdies had only conceded five goals across all competitions headed into their matchup with the Energy. Oklahoma City put three goals past Tampa Bay in just 45 minutes.
Despite being in unfamiliar territory, the Rowdies responded well, leveling the game just minutes into the second half behind Allen’s second goal of the game.
The game tightened up, but the Energy found their winner an hour into the game.
Bosetti found forward Deshorn Brown unmarked in the box, hammering home his seventh goal of the season.
Cooke had no doubts in his mind the win could prove the building block to spur on a great run of form for his side.
“To score four goals is great against anybody, but to do it against a really great team like the Tampa Bay Rowdies is very good for the players and I think they’ll gain a lot of confidence from that,” he said.
“I think any time you win a game like it gives players confidence; it gives them the belief that things are possible and I just said [in the locker room] they should be dreaming big. They shouldn’t be settling for being just okay, they should be dreaming big and hopefully we’ll get somewhere close,” he said.
“Tampa is a big team and we are a big team, and if we play like this all season, we can dream big,” Bosetti said.
Cooke was proud of his team’s response to the weather delay.
“Tonight the weather delay is very hard for everybody,” he said. “I’ve been through a few of these and tonight is the best way to have a weather delay because we hadn’t started warming up. The weather came in just before we were going to go out to warm up, and then basically we just sat around.”
“We provide food for the players and we provide plenty of drinks for them, and we think we’re doing a good job but it’s not an ideal world. What it does do I think is take a little bit of the sting out of the game, it takes a little bit of that momentum from the first kickoff and they’re in [the locker room] and having a good time, they all come out and play a little bit free with an enjoyment and I think it showed tonight. They played a nice brand of football and credit to the players, they hung in there,” he said.
In the next round of the U.S. Open Cup, the Energy will face MLS opposition.
“We’re ready for an MLS team, we’re not afraid,” Bosetti said.
The Energy will learn who their next opponent will be when the fourth round Open Cup draw is held on Thursday.
Oklahoma City next takes the field Saturday night back at Taft Stadium. They will face LA Galaxy II at 8 p.m.