With only three games left in the USL regular season, the OKC Energy could clinch a Western Conference playoff spot Sunday night at Taft Stadium with a win against rivals Swope Park Rangers.
Upon losing a valuable three points late to the Seattle Sounders 2 due to a second half stoppage time goal from Cal State alumni Tony Alfaro, the OKC Energy drew yet again. As the current USL table stands, Jimmy Nielsen and his club are tied for the most draws this year with 12. Due to last Sunday’s draw, the Energy have now gone three matches without a win, accumulating a worrisome goal differential of -4. In the Energy’s last three matches, they have drawn 2 and lost one, scoring a total of three goals while conceding seven.
With the playoffs looming closer and closer every day, Jimmy Nielsen’s club needs to pick up form quickly if they hope to make a strong playoff push like last year. As of now, the Energy sit sixth in the Western Conference with one game in hand on the clubs above them. If OKC is able to hash out a win this weekend, they could see themselves climb up as high as third in the conference. However, a loss this weekend would be devastating for boys in green. The Energy’s weekend matchup, the Swope Park Rangers, are currently three points behind the Energy and one spot behind them in the conference. If the Rangers are able to grab an away win, OKC could see themselves drop down to seventh place.
This Sunday’s contest is a major matchup for the Energy. A win is crucial if they wish to succeed in this year’s playoffs. Furthermore, a clean sheet this weekend will result in goalkeeper Cody Laurendi breaking a USL record for most single-season shutouts. The 28-year-old currently has 12 but needs 13 to grab the record.
Overall, with this being such a huge game, Energy FC fans should expect a determined side who are prepared to put everything on the line.
Predicted Score: Energy win 2-0
Players to Watch:
Kris Tyrpak (Swope Park Rangers): Upon scoring a screecher of a goal last weekend, Austin, Texan native Kriz Tyrpak will look to continue his impressive form this Sunday at Taft Stadium. With the playoffs looming, the 24-year-old forward will look to gain form ahead of the post-season.
Linus Olsson (OKC Energy FC): Having taken a few matches to become comfortable with Jimmy Nielsen’s side, Sweden international Linus Olsson will look to pick up another goal this Sunday following his first goal for the OKC club last weekend against the Seattle Sounders 2.
Predicted Starting Lineups:
OKC Energy FC: Cody Laurendi; Michael Harris, Cyprian Hendrick, Jacob VanCompermolle, Kalen Ryden; Daniel Gonzalez, Michael Byskov, Michael Thomas, Linus Olsson; Andy Craven, Danni Konig
Swope Park Rangers: Adrian Zendejas; Tommy Meyer, Amer Didic, Oumar Ballo, Ever Alvarado; Ayrton, Ualefi, Christian Duke; Kris Tyrpak, Dane Kelly, Tyler Pasher
Date: September 18, 2016
Time: 6:00 PM CDT
Location: Taft Stadium: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma