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USL Preview: Oklahoma City Energy FC vs Saint Louis FC

OKC looks to move up in the Western Conference standings.

Steven Christy/OKC Energy FC

After simply wrapping up the fourth and final installment of this year’s Black Gold Derby, the Oklahoma City Energy FC will travel north to World Wide Technology Soccer Park Wednesday night to take on Western Conference club Saint Louis FC.

Following their resounding 1-0 win over the Tulsa Roughnecks late Saturday night, the Energy FC will look to regain form once again ahead of their final playoff push. Having struggled recently to put the ball into the back of the net, the Energy must look for consistent goal scorer if they hope to make a meaningful dent in Western Conference standings. Even though the Energy have scored adequately well against the Roughnecks, they have been unable to tally up the goals against other oppositions. If you exclude the Energy’s three most recent matches against the Tulsa Roughnecks, the boys in green have struggled to score in five straight matches, however, in those five matches, they only let in a meager three goals. Although conceding three goals in five games is an impressive feat, it is quite worrisome that this playoff-bound Oklahoma City side has yet to score against stronger oppositions, including Western Conference heavyweights Los Angeles Galaxy II and the Colorado Spring Switchbacks.

Due to the Energy’s offensive worries, head coach Jimmy Nielsen recently went out and signed former Seattle Sounders forward Andy Craven. Upon joining OKC, Craven enjoyed successful spells with the Sounder’s USL side, playing a grand total of 30 matches and scoring eight goals. In his debut, Craven performed respectfully well, creating constant opportunities with precise passing as well as displaying aggressive tenacity, something many would expect from a player on his debut. Although Energy fans would believe that Craven could potentially be the club’s offensive savior, it does not seem as if head coach Jimmy Nielsen is expecting to use him as a striker. In Craven’s debut, he began up top alongside FC Dallas loanee Colin Bonner, but as the game progressed, the 24-year-old Georgia native moved to the right midfielder position. Furthermore, Craven’s second appearance for the Energy resulted in him starting as a right midfielder, suggesting that Nielsen will not use Craven as a central striker for the foreseeable future. If this is the case, where will the Energy find a goal scorer? With Colin Bonner and Danni Konig in a rut, the only reliable goal scorer left is Poland international Wojciech Wojcik, who scored Oklahoma City’s only goal Saturday night. Nevertheless, if Nielsen and his side hope to grab a win this weekend against Saint Louis, they will need to find some sort of a solution for their offensive struggles.

Overall, the Energy will need to begin grabbing points if they wish to make a lasting impact in the Western Conference. With past games in mind, it seems highly unlikely that OKC will grab a win away. In conclusion, Energy will lose 1-0 to STLFC.

Past Meetings:

The previous meeting between the two sides took place on Saturday, July 30th in Saint Louis, Missouri. The end result was a simple 0-0 draw, which capped off an uneventful weekend match.

Predicted Starting Lineups:

OKC Energy FC: Konig, Craven, Byskov, Gonzalez, Thomas, Pitter, Ryden, Andrews, Hendrick, Harris, Laurendi

Saint Louis FC: Thompson, Lurie, Cochran, Fink, Dixon, Plumhoff, C. Bond, Musa, Roberts, Ambersley, Herrera

Match Information:

Date: August 31, 2016

Time: 7:00 PM CDT

Location: World Wide Technology Soccer Park, Saint Louis, Missouri

Watch: Streamed on the USL's Youtube Channel