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Deja Vu?: Energy FC's season similar to last year

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Oklahoma City's Kyle Hyland, right, goes for the ball beside Fresno's Christian Chaney during a USL soccer game Wednesday night at Taft Stadium. Energy FC and Fresno FC played to a 0-0 draw, running Oklahoma City's unbeaten streak to eight matches. [PHOTO BY BRYAN TERRY, THE OKLAHOMAN]

Oklahoma City's Kyle Hyland, right, goes for the ball beside Fresno's Christian Chaney during a USL soccer game Wednesday night at Taft Stadium. Energy FC and Fresno FC played to a 0-0 draw, running Oklahoma City's unbeaten streak to eight matches. [PHOTO BY BRYAN TERRY, THE OKLAHOMAN]

Energy FC's season looked bleak less than two months ago.

After dropping a 2-1 decision to Seattle Sounders FC on June 10, Oklahoma City was 2-10-1 on the season and seemingly going nowhere.

But Energy FC has gone 4-0-4 in it its last eight matches and will be seeking to tie a franchise record Saturday night at Taft Stadium when it goes for its ninth straight match without a loss against San Antonio FC.

Energy FC is in a very similar situation at this point in the season as the club was last year when it made a strong run to make the playoffs and eventually into the Western Conference Finals.

"It definitely has some familiar situations," said Energy FC defender Kyle Hyland. "We were in quite the spell at the beginning of both seasons, not necessarily getting results. That happens a lot when you get a lot of turnover, last year being players and this year with a new coach and just a different style of play. It just takes some time to jell."

At the end of July last season, Energy FC's record was 6-8-5 and in 10th place in the Western Conference standings, two points behind the eighth-place team. The top eight teams from each conference in the United Soccer League qualify for the playoffs.

Energy FC finished last season with an 8-3-2 mark for a 14-11-7 record and made the playoffs as the No. 6 seed. Oklahoma City then posted two upsets on the road before falling to the Swope Park Rangers in the Western Conference Finals.

This year, since the loss to Seattle on June 10, Energy FC is 4-0-4 and has improved its season record to 6-10-5. By scoring points in its last eight matches, Energy FC is now 11th in the Western Conference standings.

"It's a long season," Hyland said. "The way we are playing now, anything can happen. If you can get in the playoffs, nothing else really matters at that point."

The Greens are currently six points behind eighth-place Fresno FC in the playoff hunt. Their opponent Saturday night, San Antonio FC, is one of the teams Oklahoma City is chasing in the standings.

San Antonio, 7-5-7, is in 10th place in the Western Conference standings, five points ahead of Energy FC. The two teams played to a 1-1 draw in San Antonio on July 4.

"Honestly, at this point, every game is important," Hyland said. "Obviously, them being right ahead of us, it poses a little bit more of an importance because we can gain some ground on them."

Since the season began, Energy FC head coach Steve Cooke has constantly been retooling the roster. Oklahoma City has six new players and made 10 roster moves total since the start of the season.

“I think the squad we've got right now with players coming into the group means everyone has to perform,” Cooke said. “Otherwise, they know someone is looking over their shoulder wanting to take their spot in the lineup. Every player is playing well. That means we've got a good group to choose from.”

If Energy FC is going to make the playoffs, it will have to play well on the road. After Saturday night's home match against San Antonio, the club will play only three of its last 12 games in Taft Stadium.

Hyland pointed out that Energy FC had some big road wins last year to get into the playoffs and then posted two road victories in the playoffs.

"We beat Sacramento at Sacramento which kind of jump-started our run at the end of the season last year," he said. "When you can win an away game, it boosts morale pretty quickly. Knowing that we did it last year, everyone is ready for that."

SAN ANTONIO FC VS. ENERGY FC

 

•When: 7:30 p.m., Saturday

•Where: Taft Stadium

•Promotion: Kids ages 12 and younger eat for free

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