Energy FC gets draw, but needed a win
Energy FC has not been mathematically eliminated from the United Soccer League playoffs, but their chances are perilously thin.
Oklahoma City battled to a 0-0 draw with Sacramento Republic FC on Sunday night in the regular season home finale at Taft Stadium.
Even though Energy FC earned a point in the Western Conference standings with the draw, they needed the three points a win would have brought to have a realistic shot at making the playoffs.
“It's never over,” Energy FC coach Steve Cooke said. “Inside that locker room there is a lot of people who believe that the fat lady hasn't sung yet.”
No, but she's warming up. Energy FC now sits seven points out of the eighth and final playoff. Oklahoma City has a three-game road swing beginning Saturday night at Las Vegas to end the season. Energy FC will need to win all three and get help to make the playoffs.
Energy FC had scoring chances Sunday night, especially late in the game. Sacramento Republic FC goal keeper Josh Cohen made a save on newcomer Deshore Brown's shot in the extra minutes after regulation that looked like could slip past the goalie into the net. Brown, who played for Cooke with the Colorado Rapids, signed with Energy FC on Tuesday.
“We wanted to win the game desperately,” Cooke said. “I think we created a couple of great moments (to score), one late in the first half and one in the second where on another day they go in.”
Sacramento outshot Energy FC 11-7 in the match and had one shot bounce off the left post in the extra minutes. Cooke called Sunday night's game a playoff-type game as Sacramento Republic FC is trying to secure home field in the playoffs.
“Both teams wanted to make sure they left here with something,” Cooke said. “Sacramento, I thought they really made us work tonight. I think that was one of the hardest fought games of the season. Just a shame we couldn't quite get the winner.”
Energy FC is now 11-14-6 on the season but have played much better since the start of the season. Oklahoma City dug itself a big hole losing eight of its first nine matches, but Cooke retooled the roster and added 10 new players over the course of the season.
"In the last 18 games there have been only two teams that has gotten more points than us in the Western Conference,” Cooke said.
“I think the team you see out there now and the team we have been putting out there the last half of the season is more than worthy of a playoff spot and, for sure, if we got into the playoffs this season I think people would be worrying about playing against us.”
Marco Bustos, a midfielder, was one of the 10 new roster additions this season. He joined the team Aug. 15 and said the club should be stronger from the outset next season.
“A lot of guys have come and gone over the last three or four months,” he said. “Now, we are building to 2019. Now we just have the finish the season strong, game by game, and when the new season comes we will be right up there with the top teams.”