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

Match Ratings: Energy keep clean sheet in scoreless draw

OKLAHOMA CITY- The Oklahoma City Energy kept their first clean sheet of this season, but ultimately settled for a draw against Rio Grande Valley FC.

The 0-0 draw was their last home game before traveling to face Group D leaders San Antonio FC.

Here are the match ratings for tonight’s game:

CJ Cochran (GK) – 8

Cochran was easily the best player on the pitch tonight. He made multiple saves in significant times and bailed out the defensive line when they made scary mistakes.

Cochran executed an amazing save 74 minutes in when there was a second chance shot off a corner kick. He forcefully pushed the ball over the crossbar to give OKC a chance to breath and regroup.

Joe Amico (D) – 6

Amico was OKC’s best defender tonight. This was Amico’s first start back since his injury and he proved he could produce a solid performance from the start. He did not make any major mistakes, but he was not given many opportunities to stand out on the offensive end.

Nico Taravel (D) – 5

Taravel struggled a little bit in the back. He did not always hit clean passes, but Taravel always cleared the ball away from the goal. Bottom line: that’s what a defender’s supposed to do.

Christian Ibeagha (D) – 4

Ibeagha had a difficult time in the back line the entire match. He continuously misjudged his spacing and timing which almost cost the Energy a couple of goals if not for Cochran’s heroics in goal. 

These bad touches and misjudgments are mistakes that the Energy cannot afford that close to their goal.

Zach Ellis-Hayden (D) – 6

Ellis-Hayden went through the full range of highs and a few lows this match. He had a rocky beginning by receiving a yellow card just 13 minutes into the game. 

Ellis-Hayden quickly made up for it by creating multiple chances in the attacking third. Unfortunately, no one could finish these opportunities.

After getting hit in the face right before halftime, he did not re-enter the game.

Jose Hernandez (M) – 7

Hernandez was a key piece in OKC’s attacking efforts tonight. Even though he did not score, he generated various chances for the energy. 

Charlie Ward (M) – 6

A midfielder’s job is not always flashy, but is necessary. Ward was great winning 50-50 balls, distributing the ball, and tracking back when necessary.

Ward did not stand out, but definitely played a significant role in the energy’s success. 

Rafa Garcia (M) – 6

Since Garcia kept tracking back to aid the defensive line, he could not always lead the offensive charge. That being said, when he made his way forward he was very effective.

Jon Brown (M) – 7

Brown faced a different situation as he had to switch wings to help give cover for Ellis-Hayden. It was not his fault he was pinned a bit further back and could not be more effective offensively. 

But when given the opportunity to attack Brown gave a solid performance.

Jaime Chavez (F) – 6

Chavez was focused and driven but was unable to finish any shots. He struggled a little to get on the end of balls and recapture his goal scoring form from the beginning of the restart. Yet Chavez displayed glimpses of prowess and stunning footwork.

Arun Basuljevic (F) – 5

Basuljevic struggled to receive service on the offensive end. When he finally acquired the chance he was hoping for, Basuljevic failed to deliver.

Substitutions:

Kyle Hyland (D) – 7 in for Zach at half

Hyland replaced Ellis-Hayden at the half. He continued to be precise in his passes and thoughtful in his decision making. 

Atiba Harris (D) – 6

Harris was a steadying force for the back line. The Oklahoma City captain guided his team off their losing streak and to their first clean sheet of the season.

Not Rated: Omar Gordon, Tucker Stephenson

Energy backing themselves to break losing skid

OKLAHOMA CITY- Trust the process.

A rallying cry across sports made popular by a once tanking Philadelphia 76ers franchise has made its way to Oklahoma City.

On the back of two straight 3-0 defeats, the Oklahoma City Energy are hard at work, just trying to trust the process.

Energy coach John Pascarella feels like his team isn’t far off, just needing to get the balance right to help turn results around.

“It’s just repetition. It’s training it,” he said.
“Getting the balance right so that if you’re going out the left side in possession you make sure that your team is balanced so that if you lose it you can recover and defend.”

Midfielder Brad Dunwell said working as a unit was one of the bigger focuses in training this past week.

“We’ve really been stressing being compact through the midfield and the back line,” Dunwell said.

“Letting [the opponent] play around us and so that’s obviously less dangerous than letting them play through us.”

Goalkeeper CJ Cochran is less worried about the balance in the team, postulating the past two results have been more a result of conceding the lead early more than anything else.

“After we get down two goals, it doesn’t matter if you lose 3-2 or 2-1. We’re not getting a win,” Cochran said. “We’re throwing numbers forward trying to get the goals and that’s just part of the game.”
Cochran also acknowledged the Energy midfield has a lot on their platter during each game.
“We ask our midfielders to do quite a bit here and they’re very good midfielders to be fair,” Cochran said.

“We’ve got a lot of new players and coming together is going to take time.”
Unfortunately for Oklahoma City, time is not on their side this season. 

With the USL Championship’s delay due to the Coronavirus, the standard 34 games was cut to just 16. 

In a normal season, a team with so many new faces could take 10 games to gel. But with this shortened schedule, every game matters just a bit more.

Pascarella said despite the two losses, there isn’t an extra sense of pressure building.
“We feel like there’s a ton of time. There’s 30 points still left on the board,” he said.

“We’ve only played for 18 [points] so far so that piece is not really a concern.”

“But I do sense the players are a little edgy because of having lost two in a row.”
For Cochran, he thinks there’s no added pressure from the past results, just the normal drive to win.
“I mean there’s always pressure to play well, especially with back to back home losses,” Cochran said.

Oklahoma City has a chance to turn the losing streak around and notch their first home win on Saturday.

Familiar foes Rio Grande Valley FC Toros return to Taft Stadium for their second matchup this season. 

In their first matchup, late heroics from striker Frank Lopez delivered Oklahoma City a 1-1 draw.

Rio Grande Valley will be the first team from Group D the Energy has seen a second time.

“I think we’ll be better prepared in the game because we have an idea of how they play,” Pascarella said. “I can’t imagine they’re going to change all that much for one game.”
Having already played the Toros can also allow for more direct film study, affording the coaching staff the ability to show the players specific areas they can improve specifically against this opponent, Pascarella said. 

“I think going into this our game plan is going to be pretty similar,” Cochran said.

The team feels they were perhaps a bit unlucky not to win the first matchup, Cochran said.

“I think their goalkeeper had three or four really good saves. If he doesn’t have one of those, we win the game,” he said.

For Dunwell this game means a bit extra, as he played for Rio Grande Valley last season/
“Going up against your former club you always want to get involved and have a good game,” Dunwell said. “Very much looking forward to it.”
The Energy and the Toros kickoff at 7 p.m. Saturday from Taft Stadium. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.

“There’s still plenty of games left,” Dunwell said.

“We can still control our own destiny.”

Energy hope to notch first home win against group leaders

OKLAHOMA CITY- Oklahoma City Energy FC are refocused and ready for their next challenge a week on from their worst result of the season.

Up next, the Energy host Group D leaders San Antonio FC who have won 10 points from their first four games.

Oklahoma City also enters the match outside of a playoff spot for the first time in a month, level with FC Tulsa on points despite playing two more games than their in-state rivals.

Energy coach John Pascarella said he’s not added any extra pressure to this game and the team is focused on getting their own results.

“You still have [to play] the same number of games,” Pascarell said. “We’re still going to have to get a lot more points.”
“We still have to finish top two of [Group D], so that’s pretty simple.”
Midfielder Rafa Garcia echoed his coach. The Energy have to focus on themselves and can’t get caught up in watching the group table, Garcia said. 

“We know we have to be better than last weekend,” he said. “We’ve trained with that mentality.”
San Antonio enters Taft Stadium boasting a lethal attack, with star Cristian Parano leading the way.

“He’s a special player. He’s definitely one of the best attacking players in the league,” Garcia said.

Garcia said his team will have to play well across the entire game though, citing the entire San Antonio 11 has talented players. 

“But you know we’ll be up for the task. We’ve trained well all week,” Garcia said. “Probably the best we’ve trained the last few weeks in my opinion.”
Pascarella said he is weary of the threat Parano poses. He has emphasized precision on clearing out balls played over the defense, as Parano excels at collecting errant clearances and making the opposition pay.

“He’s devastating in that piece of the game,” Pascarella said.

In Oklahoma City’s last game against New Mexico, forward Jaime Chavez was stranded with no service for a vast portion of the first half. Pascarella said after the game he must tweak the system to bring Chavez into the game more.

The addition of Frank Lopez in the second half seemed to help as the Energy attack looked more fluid, so the Energy could look to deploy another attacking player closer to Chavez from the onset against San Antonio.

“Bringing in another [attacker] for me is gonna open up space for me or for the other guy to stay up top,” Chavez said.

Oklahoma City will likely have to break down a San Antonio side sporting three center backs, a look Chavez is familiar with going up against in practice every week.

“Last game New Mexico had three in the back as well and when Frank [Lopez] came in the second half, we demonstrated we could handle the pressure and go at [the defense],” he said.

The team’s knowledge of how to play a similar system should help Oklahoma City more easily digest how to attack San Antonio, Pascarella said.

“From that understanding I think we can be a bit of a better team big picture, long term,” Pascarella said.

The Energy will kick off against San Antonio at 7 p.m. from Taft Stadium on Saturday evening. Fans will again be allowed to attend, but the game will also be streamed on ESPN+.

“The point we’ve made is to go out there and compete and be harder to play against,” Garcia said.

“San Antonio is a great team. But with that being said, we’re at home and we expect to win.”

All Three Points: Energy primed to grow into season

OKLAHOMA CITY- Four months. 128 days. Finally, live sports returned to Oklahoma City last night.

Though the Energy had to settle for a draw, it took just 20 minutes for the team to knock off the preseason rust and implement their personality on the game.

Unveiling a new system is never easy, especially after having essentially two preseasons with just a single competitive match.

Putting a bow on the season re-opener, Oklahoma City can take away three things from the matchup with FC Tulsa before hitting the road to face the Austin Bold on Friday.

New system allowed OKC to dictate the game

Head coach John Pascarella toyed with the thought of a three defender system heading into the 2020 season, but injuries leading into the season opener forced his hand.

Though the shutdown was challenging, it also allowed Oklahoma City to get healthy. Pascarella was then able to roll out his new system against Tulsa. 

After growing into the game, the Energy controlled the pace of the game with their new system. They would have liked to create more chances, but they were sound at the back, only allowing Tulsa to direct three of their 11 shots on frame.

Pascarella said there was still work to be done to improve with the new style of play.

“I think we have to sharpen our understanding of playing in that system,” he said. “You can still see that some of the concepts are coming along, they’re not fully formed yet.”

Defender Christian Ibeagha said he enjoys Pascarella’s vision.

“I think for the most part we had good balance,” he said. “We feel comfortable in the system.”

“It’s a work in progress.”
Oklahoma City will need to acclimate fast, with just 14 games remaining there is no time to waste. 

Jaime Chavez is the dynamic front man the Energy need

Chavez has been on fire for Oklahoma City on both sides of the shutdown. The Energy’s leading goal scorer through preseason turned up against Tulsa, hammering home Oklahoma City’s only goal.

Pascarella praised Chavez’s versatility after the match.

“He’s a very good poacher. He can get on the end of things in the air and he’s good back to goal in terms of helping us build our attack,” Pacarella said.

“But in the box, he really is a killer.”
The Energy needed Chavez’s entire skill set throughout the game, having him both run behind the Tulsa defense and drop deep to try and move possession forward. 

When he was called upon, he came up huge. Chavez perfectly timed his run into the box, punching home Zach Ellis-Hayden’s cross with a sliding goal.

To keep his spirits high, Chavez said he’s been focusing on what he can control and enjoying the simple joys of life while the season was suspended. 

“[I] just played with my son, you know? Enjoy life and just enjoy my son,” he said. “That’s what keeps my head out of nowhere else.”

Ibeagha stars at center of back three

While the defense was solid all evening, Ibeagha stole the show for Oklahoma City. 

Thirty-five minutes into the match, Ibeagha cleared the Energy lines with a tackle any defender would be proud to have on their highlight reel. 

Ariel Martinez found his way behind the defense, but Ibeagha planted an inch-perfect slide tackle at the edge of the six yard box.

Ibeagha claims he had to work himself back into play, but he gave the fans in attendance no inclination with his performance.

“I’m glad it looked that way because I think inside there’s a few cobwebs I had to knock off,” he said with a smile after the match.

Pascarella said Ibeagha allows for the rest of the team to push higher up the pitch, knowing he can help ease any danger if the team gets caught out. 

“His athleticism allows us to be able to [play a high line] and he can usually make up ground on almost anybody in the league,” Pascarella said. “He became a big force a couple of times tonight.”

Chavez and Ibeagha will be crucial as the Energy have a short turnaround to prepare for Austin. 

Kickoff is at 8 p.m. Friday night. The game will be streamed on ESPN+.

Sprint to the Season On as Energy FC Resume Full Contact Training

OKLAHOMA CITY- For the first time in months, training bore a closer resemblance to a soccer match than a get-fit bootcamp. 

Oklahoma City Energy FC held their first full-contact training since the USL Championship lifted the moratorium.

“It actually went well,” head coach John Pascarella said. “You could see that the guys have had a lot of pent up and bottled up energy that they needed to release.”

The coaching staff let the players blow off whatever pent up energy they had, immediately throwing the team in to a full sided scrimmage.

After nearly three and a half months of isolation and small sided training, the full-contact game was a welcome change.

“The game situation is what we all live for,” goalkeeper Cody Laurendi said. 

“You can replicate things in practice and training but when you get out there between the lines… there’s a different level and that’s where we all as competitive individuals thrive,” he said. 

Energy FC will have to take advantage of each day, as the squad will have just two and a half weeks before the targeted restart date of July 11.

“The fitness is probably right around what we expected,which is not good enough for a game,” Pascarella said.

“But we’ve still got a couple of weeks to go. We’ll get there.”

Though the team is still working toward match fitness, Pascarella said he was pleased with how they played on the ball. 

“In terms of the technical stuff, that’s what was really good today. The ball moved, it flowed,” he said. 

“Guys had a pretty good understanding of how to play.”

Pascarella also said it would take time to ease the team back into playing with full contact.

“Guys just aren’t used to it right now,” he said.

“That piece of the competition is different for them and that’s going to take a little bit of getting used to and for the body as well just to get adjusted.”
Laurendi agreed the team needs some time to ease back into the physical phase of the game, but that positives could still be taken from the reintroduction of contact. 

“I think just general sharpness is what we’re getting out of this. Guys haven’t had contact in the past few months,” he said.

“It was good to come back out here and kind of fight a little bit.” 

As training wrapped up, the USL announced the format for the league to return to play. 

A 16 game regular season awaits the Energy, with teams broken up into regional groups. Oklahoma City’s season opening loss against Colorado Springs will count in the match total, leaving the Energy just 15 matches once play resumes.

“I think it’s going to be a little bit rushed, but everyone has been given the same circumstance and we’ll have to deal with it,” Pascarella said. “We’ll get there.”

With limited practice days ahead of the resumption of games, Pascarella said it could be cutting it close to regain the levels the team had coming out of the preseason. 

“In terms of totally prepared, you know we’ll get as close as we can,” he said.

USL Lifts Training Moratorium

OKLAHOMA CITY- One of the final hurdles has been cleared for the return of local soccer.

The USL Championship announced full contact training can resume on June 24. 

Clubs must still obtain approval from local and state health authorities before they can resume full squad training. 

Though July 11 has been announced as a target return date for games, USL clubs still were having to run training sessions in small groups with no contact. Resumption of full contact training is viewed as one of the final stepping stones to getting players back into game shape, as there is only so much conditioning players can go through with no contact.

Wednesday’s return will be the first full contact training for clubs in over 14 weeks. 

No further plans or schedule have been announced by the USL pertaining to the July 11 return of play.
Energy FC did announce fans would be in attendance once play resumes in a statement on Twitter. 

Energy FC Drops Pair of New Kits

OKLAHOMA CITY- The phrase “better late than never” has had a mini-renaissance during the coronavirus pandemic. 

After nearly a three month delay, Oklahoma City Energy FC were finally able to announce the arrival of their primary and secondary kits.

Shipping delays tied up the new Adidas slate of uniforms, forcing the Energy to roll out their third kit for their season opener in March. 

Green returns to Oklahoma City’s uniform offerings in the new primary kit. The green base with white vertical stripes across the front gives the Energy a modern take on a classic kit design. 

Energy FC forward Koda Iida shows off the new primary kit. Photo courtesy of Energy FC.

“The green is iconic,” Energy midfielder Arun Basuljevic said. “When you see the green, you immediately think of OKC Energy.”

The secondary kit is a clean offering as well. The kit is white with green piping around the shoulders and is complete with the silver rendering of the club crest as seen on the third kits. 

“The white might actually be my favorite,” Energy defender Kyle Hyland said. “I’ve worn a lot of kits in my six years in OKC and they keep getting better.”

Midfielder Rafa Garcia models the new secondary kit, featuring the club crest in silver. Photo courtesy of Energy FC.


Fans may recognize the new look for the Energy as they actually had a hand in picking them. Energy FC Chief Operating Officer Jeff Kretchmar said supporters were polled on various kit designs, and the top two vote getters became the new primary and secondary kits. 

“We wanted to make sure the fans had a say in what the jerseys look like,” Kretchmar said. 

Though the fans were solicited for their votes, Kretchmar said the club had a clear vision in mind for what the primary kit would look like. 

“We always knew we wanted to go back to green,” he said.

Kyle Hyland shows off the back of the primary kit featuring a local touch. Photo courtesy of Energy FC.

Both new uniforms also have specific local ties on the back of the shirt above the player’s names. 

The primary kit features the Oklahoma state motto “Labor Omnia Vincit” in blue print.

For the secondary kit the club called upon Oklahoma’s new state logo, printed in green to match the numbers and piping of the shirt. 

Defender Christian Ibeagha displays the controversial new logo for the state of Oklahoma. Photo courtesy of Energy FC.

“They feel great,” Basuljevic said. “They are probably my favorite kits I’ve ever worn.”

Fans won’t have to wait much longer to see the kits in person. The Energy announced in a statement on Twitter that fans would be in attendance in some way once the season resumes.

The USL voted on a provisional restart date of July 11 for the USL Championship season. 

USL Announces Provisional Start Date

OKLAHOMA CITY- Live local soccer is once again on the horizon. 

Thursday the USL Championship Board of Governors voted to resume play with a provisional start date of July 11 targeted. 

No additional details on the resumption of play were announced regarding the schedule or format, but a start date will be welcome news to Oklahoma City Energy FC and fans alike. 

“We are beyond excited to have this opportunity to reconnect with our extraordinary fans and partners through our love of soccer and our city,” Jeff Kretchmar, Energy FC Chief Operating Officer, said. 

Though a return to play date wasn’t set until Thursday, the Energy have been back at practice preparing for the season to resume. 

Small group, non-contact training sessions resumed on May 13 for the Energy, and assistant coach Leigh Veidman said he was pleased with how the team was progressing.

“Overall, yes I was happy with where the group are at,” Veidman said. 

The Energy resumed training almost two months to the day from their season opener, so Veidmad said the suspension had wiped essentially all progress.

“Basically we have to start from scratch. It was like the first day of pre-season to where we are treating the guys as though they’ve done zero for the past eight weeks.”

Forward Tucker Stephenson acknowledged the team had been gradually ramping training back up to attempt to recapture their fitness levels.

“We initially started off with just individual one on one with the ball work and we have been progressing into two players with one ball and it’s going well,” Stephenson said.

Forward Tucker Stephenson back in training to prepare for the resumption of the USL Championship season. Photo courtesy of Energy FC.

The USL’s small group guidance allows for training groups of up to four players. Defender Kyle Hyland said the coaches divided the guys up by position group to work as units in their small groups. 

Despite adding more players to the rotation, the main goal was still to get the team fit for games again.

“Most of [training] was a little more conditioning as well, but you could incorporate a little bit more passing and stuff which was nice,” Hyland said.

Veidman stressed the need to regain fitness for the safety of the players. 

Not only are the players having to guard against COVID-19, but they need to be in game shape to avoid any number of other injuries once play resumes, Veidman said. 

In the midst of strenuous training sessions, Hyland said the coaches are trying to keep team morale up. 

“The coaching staff are getting kind of creative and stuff too on how to work us and when to increase the loads and when to decrease the loads,” Hyland said.

He went on to say the coaches ended one practice with a game of soccer tennis to add a bit more fun back into things. 

When play does resume, the Energy will have almost every member of the squad fit and ready for action.

OKC Energy FC Assistant Coach Leigh Veidman directing drills at training. Photo courtesy of Energy FC.

Goalkeeper Cody Laurendi and Hyland have recovered from their minor injuries they carried into the start of the season, Veidman said.

The only member of the team still out with an injury would be defender Joe Amico.

Amico had hip surgery before the season started which he is still rehabbing.

“He was going to be out for six months. So this period has allowed him to one get fit and two completely go through his rehab,” Veidman said.

“Hopefully he’s back to getting on the field soon and starting his rehab back on the field.”

In the absence of soccer, the team has tried to make the most of the experience. 

The Energy entered the season with a new coaching staff and substantial roster turnover, so the team has used the break to gel so they are ready to compete once they hit the field again.

“It does just give an extra time period for guys to kind of link up and work together in that specific position area,” Stephenson said. 

“I don’t think it gives us a disadvantage, that’s for sure.”

USLPA Offers Economic Relief Counterproposal

By Ryan Chapman

OKLAHOMA CITY- The USL Players Association responded to the USL’s suggested economic relief package.

The USLPA’s counter offer detailed a 10 percent pay cut on wages above a $2,000 per month threshold. 

As reported by The Athletic, the league’s initial offer deducted wages in 20 percent increments above a base salary ranging from $1,000 to $1,300.

In a statement on Twitter, the USLPA said while players want to return to play, the proposed economic relief package was a non-starter.

“Players unanimously rejected the League’s proposed economic relief of extreme wage decreases,” the USLPA statement said. 

In return for accepting the 10 percent pay cut, the USLPA outlined three conditions the USL must meet.

“1) The League matching the Players’ salary cuts; 2) Clubs’ agreement to a minimum salary of $20,000 beginning in 2021; and 3) The League agreeing to increase its bargaining frequency every 14 days until a collective bargaining agreement is reached,” the release said.

There is optimism at working toward a common goal the USLPA told Sideline Warning.

“Due to the nature of the USL’s original offer and our counteroffer, there is a lot of room for communication regarding any potential agreement,” the USLPA said in an email.

“Dialogue is ongoing. We continue to work toward progress for our players.”

The establishment of a minimum salary is a goal of the USLPA leading their efforts toward a first collective bargaining agreement. Additionally, the USL’s inclusion of a salary floor in their initial relief proposal highlighted the need for a minimum salary the USLPA release said. 

“Many USL Players earn less than a liveable wage, which has been a driving factor for the USLPA’s push for a minimum salary,” the release said. 

Despite no current agreement on an economic relief package, teams continue to meet in small group training sessions in preparation for the resumption of the 2020 USL regular season. 

In a show of solidarity on Twitter, players have begun to respond to the USLPA’s statement with the hashtag “StandWithThePlayers”.

SidelineWarningPod.Com has reached out to he USL for a statement on the USLPA’s counter proposal, but we are still awaiting a response. This story will be updated as more information becomes available.