OKC Energy formidable even if not consistent
Just over halfway through the season, the Oklahoma City Energy still struggle to find consistency.
The Energy currently sit in eighth place in the Western Conference, but only three points separate the team from the 11th place squad, placing Oklahoma City in danger of missing the league playoffs.
Despite the highly touted arrivals of forwards Omar Gordon and Alexy Bosetti, the Energy have often wasted chances in front of goal, leading to a high amount of draws in games the Energy would have otherwise won.
Head Coach Steve Cooke is well aware of his team’s shortcomings up front.
“We’ve got to find that little bit better quality with the ball around the edge of the box,” Cooke said after their defeat against league leaders, Phoenix.
The Energy flash signs of potential at times, but cannot find their top level week to week.
In the U.S. Open Cup, Oklahoma City defeated the Tampa Bay Rowdies 4-3, shredding the defense sitting atop the Eastern Conference standings.
Cooke was optimistic such a result would spur his team to a higher level after.
“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,” Cooke said after the match.
Since the victory over Tampa Bay, Oklahoma City has won just one game of six in league play, failing to score more than a single goal in each contest.
All is not lost though. At the start of the season, the team struggled defensively, but they seem to have turned a corner at the back.
Over the same span, Oklahoma City has held opponents to one goal or fewer per game, with the exception of their 4-1 loss to Phoenix.
Defender Kyle Hyland said believes the team can take positives away from the loss to Phoenix, even though it was their worst result of the season.
“We want to be as good as them if not better come playoff time. It’s a measure at the halfway point in the season, so we have a lot of work to do,” Hyland said. “We’ve got to take what we can from this. We know where we want to be.”
The turn of the calendar from June to July provided Oklahoma City a boost. Four key players returned from international duty, as the Gold Cup, the international tournament between North American countries, came to a close,
Starters Alvin Jones, Mekeil Williams, Cordell Cato and Je-Vaughn Watson will slot back into the lineup after a month gone from the team. The return comes at a great time as the Energy had to deal with a busy fixture list shorthanded.
Oklahoma City has a great chance to start a run of good form with their next four fixtures. The Energy will host Reno 1868, the second place team in the west. If Oklahoma City can get a result, they will fancy their chances headed into their next three games, all against the bottom three teams in the conference.
There is no need to hit the panic button on the Energy’s season. But if they fail to start winning over their next stretch of games, Oklahoma City could find themselves on the outside looking in on the playoff race.