Match Ratings: Energy Finally Douse Their Scoring Drought

OKLAHOMA CITY- Energy fans have waited 366 days to witness a win at Taft Stadium, and they will have to wait at least three more weeks. There was one consolation in this game as the Oklahoma City Energy scored their first goal since July 22nd. Despite playing a man down for over half an hour, the Energy contained Austin Bold FC to a 1-1 draw. 

Here are the match ratings for tonight’s game:

CJ Cochran (GK): 5

CJ Cochran had a fairly quiet night besides letting a goal zoom by. Even though this was caused by the defense not stepping to the offensive threat, Cochran seemed surprised to see the ball fly into the net. He made up for this though with a great block on the brink of halftime to keep the game level.

Joe Amico (D): 5

Although Joe Amico was effective offensively when going forward to create opportunities, his marking on defense was inconsistent. Fifty minutes in Amico left an Austin Bold forward wide open. This could have resulted in another goal if not for Cochran’s perfectly timed block.

Nicolas Taravel (D): 6

Nicolas Taravel did well in controlling the defensive pulse. He prevented a fast break from Austin Bold FC but that cost Taravel a yellow card in minute 27.

Attiba Harris (D): 6

Attiba Harris held the defensive line effectively. He did not have many chances to shine and also did not make any major mistakes.

Zach Ellis-Hayden (D): 8

Zach Ellis-Hayden thrives on the outside. He knows when to take his space and move the ball forward. He created many offensive opportunities for the Energy tonight. Ellis-Hayden was responsible for the beautiful cross to Jaime Chavez who finally finishes with a header. 

Jon Brown (MF): 6

Jon Brown sufficiently distributed the ball to his teammates. Brown kept busy tracking back on defense as well as aiding the offensive attack. As a great role player and the things he does well does not always show up on the stat sheet.

Jose Hernandez (MF): 7

Jose Hernandez constantly kept pressure high on Austin Bold FC. Hernandez kept the ball moving on offense and won the ball back quickly on defense. 

Rafa Garcia (MF): 4

Despite Rafa Garcia placing multiple direct balls accurately, he received two yellow cards in this match. Though the sending off was incredibly harsh and a questionable decision, he did leave his teammates to play a man down for 40 minutes.

Cordell Cato (MF): 6
Cordell Cato did a fantastic job of making chances happen out wide. He also got a good shot opportunity but it was blocked by the goalie. This was a solid return back to the pitch for Cato.

Arun Basuljevic (F): 7

Even though Arun Basuljevic was not the one who ended the scoring drought, he created multiple chances for the Energy. He remained active in the attacking third all night. By Basuljevic repeatedly badgering the defense, Austin Bold’s defensive line became spread too thin. 

The space created by Basuljevic allowed for other attackers to take advantage. 

Jaime Chavez (F): 8

Right from the start it was clear that Jaime Chavez was hungry to score. Chavez was getting on the end of attacks yet could not seem to finish. 

At times, prime offensive opportunities for goals were wasted due to his poor decision making. Too often, Chavez killed a break to play a ball backwards instead of running at the defense to beat his man. 

But he made up for this by ending the OKC Energy’s scoring drought. Chavez finished a perfectly accurate cross by Ellis-Hayden with a header to give the Energy their first goal in (whatever many days).

Substitutions:

Charlie Ward (MF): 6

Charlie Ward came on to stabilize the midfield once Garcia was sent off. The Energy enjoyed the greater share of attacking threats despite playing a man down, proving Ward’s worth.

Not Rated: Omar Gordon, Kyle Hyland

Energy FC drops opener, still pleased with the progress

By Ryan Chapman

OKLAHOMA CITY- Though Oklahoma City Energy FC left Taft Stadium with a loss, there was plenty to feel good about. 

After battling back to level the game, the Energy fell victim to an unfortunate own goal to lose 2-1 to Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC in their season opener. 

“I think the score line was probably a fair one, it could have been 2-1 in either direction,” Energy head coach John Pascarella said. 

Fielding nine new players in their starting lineup, it was always going to take a few games for the team to come together. So it should have been no surprise that through the opening 20 minutes, the team looked a tad disjoint. 

Miscommunication appeared to cost Oklahoma City as they conceded the opening goal 16 minutes into the game.

Former Energy turned Colorado Springs front man Christian Volesky made a run behind the defense, splitting Oklahoma City defenders Atiba Harris and Zach Ellis-Hayden. Both defenders looked to hand Volesky off, leading to the Switchbacks striker being left alone at the back post to hammer home the Aidan Daniels cross.

“There’s still a couple things we have to clean up, because both goals came in a similar fashion from wide areas,” Pascarella said. “In general, we were pretty solid.”

After the goal, Oklahoma City seemed to pick up the pace and started to string a few passes together. 

The Energy almost responded five minutes later.

Midfielder Arun Basuljevic played forward Frank Lopez in, and Lopez almost slipped his shot behind the Switchbacks goalkeeper to pull Oklahoma City level.

Lopez and his strike partner Jamie Chavez appeared to be close a few times, but could never string together the final ball to pull the play together.

“There were a couple times when we could’ve gotten them in behind and we didn’t, or a couple of times when they were off and the break and could’ve gotten each other in behind, and they tried to do it alone,” Pascarella said.

“I think part of that is understanding, and it will just come with time.”

Oklahoma City would find their breakthrough midway through the second half. 

Tucker Stephenson played a free kick into the box for the Energy, and Harris got on the end of it to pull the game level.

“Tucker [Stephenson] and a few of the guys have been working on [set piece] service, so I wasn’t surprised by the ball that Tucker whipped in,” Harris said. 

“Luckily for me, I was the one who got on the end of it.”

The ensuing 10 minutes marked the best span of play for Oklahoma City, as they threatened the Switchbacks goal multiple times but couldn’t direct their chances on frame.

Against the run of play, the Energy were undone by an own goal.

With the ball bouncing around near the top of the 18 yard box, the Oklahoma City defense was unable to clear their line and reset. Colorado Springs’ uvaldo Luna was able to whip in a cross from a wide area, and Stephenson mistakenly redirected the goal into his own net. 

Despite the loss, there were positives to take.

Even though the finishing wasn’t there, the Oklahoma City forwards threatened more consistently than they did for vast stretches of last season. 

“I think [Pascarella and the coaching staff have been doing a good job in terms of implementing what he wants, and it showed tonight,” Harris said. “The result didn’t go our way, but we’ve been doing the things he wants us to do.”

“It’s going to take some time, but I think we’ve been getting more and more comfortable with each other.”

The Energy will now head out on a three-game road trip. First up, Oklahoma City will take on Reno 1868 FC.

Kick-off will be at 8:30 p.m. on Saturday, and the game can be streamed on ESPN+. 

Photo courtesy of Energy FC.

Player Ratings from Energy FC’s loss to Colorado Springs

By Ryan Chapman

OKLAHOMA CITY- Oklahoma City Energy FC fell in their season opener 2-1 to Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC.

With nine of the 11 starters new to the team since last season, it may take some time for the Energy to gel and play their best team soccer. 

Here are player ratings from the opening loss:

GK CJ Cochran 7

Cochran did well to keep the Energy in the game early while they were still feeling their way into the game. Registering six saves, Cochran didn’t have much of a chance on either goal with defensive giveaways and an unlucky deflection. 

D Zach Ellis-Hayden 6

Ellis-Hayden showed flashes of his ability going forward, but is still adjusting to playing with a new back line. He was solid in one-on-one defending situations, but Colorado Springs had a little too much freedom to whip in crosses on both flanks. 

D Nicolas Taravel 6

In his first game back since his season-ending ACL tear, Taravel looked solid. The back line as a whole played better as the game went on, a telling sign that they need more playing time together. 

D Atiba Harris 7

The Energy captain headed home Oklahoma City’s only goal of the evening. The midfield gave the ball away in an unfortunate position leading to the first goal, but the Energy tightened things up after that for the most part. Harris will have to guide the defense as the season rolls on, his experience will be essential to the back line being in sync.

D Tucker Stephenson 5

Playing out of position, Stephenson was dealt a tough task in the season opener. He was caught a tad out of position at times, but always worked hard to find his way back into the play. Stephenson played in a fantastic cross which Harris headed home for their first goal, but unfortunately was on the end of the unlucky own goal which did OKC in. Nothing to hang his head about, Stephenson showed flashes of ability, he’ll just need more time to get accustomed to the position. 

M Brad Dunwell 5

Dunwell didn’t really stand out positively or negatively against the Switchbacks. Tasked with shoring up the midfield, Dunwell made a few good tackles to get OKC moving out of their defensive half. 

M Charlie Ward 6

Ward looked lively for stretches in the midfield, but ultimately appeared to run out of gas. Ward was the last player to join up with the team, so he will understandably have plenty of time to get his fitness back. He never looked afraid to get stuck in on a tackle in the midfield though, which added some muscle and physicality to the side.

M Jose Hernandez 6

At times, Hernandez felt isolated on Oklahoma City’s left flank. When the ball did fall to him, he looked confident and it often resulted in crisp passes and good decision making. 

M Arun Basuljevic 7

Playing just under the forwards, Basuljevic was a hub of creativity for the Energy. His pace and skill looked to unlock the Switchbacks defense a few times, playing balls into dangerous positions but the team just lacked the finish. 

F Jamie Chavez 6

Chavez’s scorching hot start to preseason didn’t translate to a goal in the season opener. Chavez still looked dangerous, narrowly missing two chances in the first half for the Energy. Plenty to like from his performance, just needs to find the back of the net when the ball falls to him.

F Frank Lopez 7

Anytime Lopez is on the field, the opposing defense is going to be sweating. Lopez is a ball of energy, chasing down every ball sent his direction. Basuljevic set him up in a great position at the penalty spot late in the second half, but Lopez just couldn’t find the back of the net.

Subs

M Ray Saari N/R

Not really making a huge impact in his 15 minutes, Saari looked solid in relief for Ward.

M Cordell Cato N/R

Similar to Saari, the ball hardly found Cato in his 15 minutes of action.  

M Jon Brown N/R

Brown chased down one ball toward the end of the game, but was unable to do much with it. Other than that, he was relatively silent in his 10 minutes on the field. 

Photo courtesy of Energy FC.

Energy FC honors OKC Memorial with new uniform

By Ryan Chapman

OKLAHOMA CITY- The Oklahoma City Energy’s first set of uniforms with Adidas are deeply rooted in the city.

The Energy’s alternate third kits commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing. 

April 19, 1995 would turn into a day which would forever change the face of Oklahoma City. 

Tragedy struck the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building at 9:02 a.m., when a heinous act of domestic terroism killed 168 people.

The immediate response would define Oklahoma City and Oklahomans as a whole going forward. 

Countless stories have been told of how Oklahomans dropped everything and ran toward the blast, helping in whatever way they could despite the danger and confusion. 

The response shaped what would become known as the “Oklahoma Standard”, a spirit and attitude where Oklahomans come together to overcome challenges and tragedy, no matter the cost.

“The events of the Oklahoma City Bombing, nearly 25 years ago, forever changed the lives of all Oklahomans,” Jeff Kretchmar, Energy FC Chief Operating Officer, said in a press release. “The strength and love that followed that day inspired a nation and has shaped the direction of our city.”

“When the opportunity came to help the Oklahoma City Memorial and Museum, Energy FC wanted to make sure that it was a tribute worthy of this occasion.”

Energy defender Nico Taravel models the new commemorative third kit. Photo courtesy of Energy FC.

Goalkeeper Cody Laurendi is entering his fifth season in Oklahoma City. The Florida native said he is excited to represent the city with such a powerful message. 

“Last year I had the opportunity to go see the Memorial and listen and take in everything that has happened because I was a young kid when it happened,” Laurendi said. “To be able to show unity and a sense of community through these jerseys is something that is just amazing.”

The black uniforms will display the Survivor Tree on the back above the players’ names and numbers in silver print, a nod to the 25 years since the bombing.

The Survivor Tree is emblazoned in silver on the nape of the neck. Photo courtesy of Energy FC.

Defender Kyle Hyland, also in his fifth year with the club, said the image of the Survivor Tree stands out to him stemming back to his first season in Oklahoma City.

“I know the first year I was here [the fans] did a tifo for the Survivor Tree,” Hyland said. “I thought it was really cool.”

Fans at Taft Stadium display a tifo remembering those lost during a match against the Seattle Sounders FC 2 on April 18, 2015. Photo courtesy of Energy FC.

Laurendi said he is proud to wear a jersey which remembers such an important time in the history of Oklahoma City. 

“It’s obviously a tragedy,” Laurendi said. “But it seems year to year that people in Oklahoma do such a great job of rememberance of those lives that were lost.”

Hyland said the response of Oklahomans in the aftermath of the bombing sticks out to him.

“What they did even immediately after the bombing is just so incredible that everybody ran towards everything to help instead of running away from such a horrific circumstance,” he said. 

“It’s a part of the city and having something like that unites people and brings people together.”

The Energy will debut the uniforms Saturday in their season opener against the Colorado Springs Switchbacks.

The new jerseys are available for preorder at shop.energyfc.com. Twenty percent of the proceeds from the uniforms will be donated to the OKC Memorial and Museum.

Oklahoma City’s season opener will usher in a new era for the Energy.

Not only will Saturday be the first time fans will be able to see a plethora of new signings in action, but it will be the first game in charge for new head coach John Pascarella. 

Kickoff against Colorado Springs is at 7 p.m. at Taft Stadium. 

Texas Stuns the Sooners, Extends Streak to Five Wins

By Ryan Chapman

Article originally published on thefranchiseok.com

NORMAN- With 0.4 seconds on the clock, the Lloyd Noble Center stood in stunned silence. 

Matt Coleman III, one possession after air-balling a contested jumper, nailed an unlikely triple to give the Texas Longhorns their fifth straight win. 

“It’s a combination of a little passion, a little luck, and a little of March,” Coleman said after the game…

For complete article, visit http://thefranchiseok.com/texas-stuns-the-sooners-extends-streak-to-five-wins/

Diallo Provides the Spark, Thunder Once Again Kings of Clutch

By Ryan Chapman

Article originally published on thefranchiseok.com

OKLAHOMA CITY- When the game is on the line, the Oklahoma City Thunder feel at home.

The Sacramento Kings were the latest victims of the NBA’s best Clutch Time team, falling to the Thunder 112-108. 

A game enters Clutch Time when there are under five minutes remaining and either team leads by five points or less…

For complete article, visit http://thefranchiseok.com/diallo-provides-the-spark-thunder-once-again-kings-of-clutch/

Podcast: Christine and Ryan Rat Out the Gym Rats

By Christine Butterfield and Ryan Chapman

Christine and Ryan share their gym pet peeves (:00-14:16). Then Christine and Ryan go over their favorite moments in Sports News from the past week (14:17-24:44). Oklahoma basketball blew the doors off the Chesapeake Arena on Tuesday and Ryan and Christine explain their thoughts on the game (24:45-52:20). The Oklahoma City Thunder were playing while Christine and Ryan were covering the Sooners, but they stayed up to date in order to provide some thoughts on the game (52:21-54:23). Finally Christine and Ryan get into the most anticipated episode of The Bachelor: The Fantasy Suites (54:24-1:21:20).

Listen to the Sideline Warning Podcast on SoundCloud and Apple Podcasts!

Thunder get back on track against the Trail Blazers

Article originally published on thefranchiseok.com

OKLAHOMA CITY- The Oklahoma City Thunder bucked their recent trend of slow starts to outpace the Portland Trail Blazers.

Tired legs were to be expected with both teams playing on the second night of a back-to-back, but injuries and a trade lead to both teams missing a pair of starters…

For complete article, visit http://thefranchiseok.com/thunder-get-back-on-track-against-the-trail-blazers/.

Thunder drop second straight home game

Article originally published on thefranchiseok.com

OKLAHOMA CITY- The Toronto Raptors had to fend off a furious fourth quarter comeback to retire the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Thunder trailed by as many as 30 points in the second half, but were able to make the game interesting for fans down the stretch…

For complete article, visit http://thefranchiseok.com/thunder-drop-second-straight-home-game/.

Thunder routed by shorthanded Lakers

Article originally published on thefranchiseok.com.

OKLAHOMA CITY- It was no homecoming for Russell Westbrook.

In fact, most of the star power was taken out of the game before tip-off.

With Lebron James, Anthony Davis and Danny Green all out with injuries…

For complete article, visit http://thefranchiseok.com/thunder-routed-by-shorthanded-lakers/.