With the 2016 USL season at an end, the Oklahoma City Energy FC will now prepare for another return to the league’s postseason. As the number seven seed, the Energy will take on the second seed Rio Grand Valley FC away at Toro Stadium Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. CT. The matchup between the two southern sides will act as a single-elimination match, meaning the victor of the one and only draw will advance further into the playoffs.
Throughout the 2016 regular season, the Energy and Toros met three times, resulting in RGVFC capturing the only win as the other two matches finished with scoreless draws.
Narrowly sitting second in the Western Conference, Rio Grand Valley FC finished as the second best offense in the West, accumulating a grand total of 47 goals. In addition to their impressive offense, RGVFC contained the best defense in the West, only conceding a meager 24 goals, a stat that resulted with the Texas club to have a Western Conference high goal differential of +23.
Boasting a respectable defense themselves, the Energy FC allowed a small total of 30 goals this season, a result that saw the club conceded an average of one goal per match. Although Jimmy Nielsen’s defense was spectacular, his offense has shown consistent signs of struggle, scoring a measly 32 goals this season, which barely averages higher than one goal per match. If Jimmy Nielsen and company wish to succeed in Saturday night’s match, they will surely need to get their offense on track.
Predicted Score: Looking at the previous matchups between the two sides, it is difficult to predict that the Energy will grind out a win. Having been unable to produce any goals in their three-season matches against Rio Valley, past outings suggest that fans will see much of the same Saturday night. Overall, if Jimmy Nielsen and company are able to find the back of the net, they may have a chance to move on to the next round, however, the win will most likely go to the Toros, who will send the Energy home for an early offseason by winning 2-0.
Players to Watch:
Cody Laurendi (OKC Energy): Although the later part of the season was somewhat discouraging for the Energy, goalkeeper Cody Laurendi kept their hopes alive, showing up every game in and game out to extend his respectable 12 shutouts this year. The 28-year-old’s clean sheets saw him fall one short of the USL single-season record for shutouts, however, it did not go unnoticed. Although American at birth, Laurendi received his first international call-up to Puerto Rico, a symbol suggesting that more is to come for the 28-year-old goalkeeper.
Ruben Luna (RGVFC): Upon arriving in Major League Soccer along with Victor Ulloa and Moises Hernandez in 2010, Mexican native Ruben Luna has endured a traveling career. Making stops at clubs such as the San Antonio Scorpions, Atlanta Silverbacks, and Inter Playa del Carmen, Luna has found another home with the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros. After signing with the Toros in mid-July, Luna has shown the world why he deserves to return to America’s top flight, scoring seven goals in 12 matches for his side, a stat that sees him lead his side in goals.
Predicted Starting Lineups:
OKC Energy FC: Cody Laurendi; Michael Harris, Cyprian Hendrick, Jacob VanCompermolle, Kalen Ryden; Timo Pitter, Michael Byskov, Michael Thomas, Linus Olsson; Andy Craven, Danni Konig
Rio Grande Valley FC: Devin Perales; Kevin Garcia, Taylor Hunter, Kai Greene, Ivan Magalhaes; Charlie Ward, Eric Bird, Emilio Garcia, Jose “Memo” Rodriguez; Ruben Luna, Robert “TJ” Casner
- Saturday, October 1st at 7:30 p.m. CT
- Toro Stadium: Edinburg, Texas
- REF: Rosendo Mendoza
- AR1: Francisco Bermudez
- AR2: Jesus Moya
- 4TH: Pedro Trejo Jr
- Oklahoma City Energy: 43 points (10 wins, 7 losses, 13 draws)
- Rio Grande Valley FC: 51 points (14 wins, 7 losses, 9 draws)
- Goals (OKC): Wojciech Wojcik, Danni Konig, Michael Thomas, 4
- Goals (RGVFC): Ruben Luna, 7
- Assists (OKC): Danni Konig, Sebastian Dalgaard, Michael Thomas, 4
- Assists (RGVFC): Memo Rodriguez, 7