Two games in four days are never easy, especially when both are against highly ranked Western Conference sides. For the Oklahoma City Energy, this burden has fallen upon them, but they are half way done with the challenge.
Late Wednesday night, the Energy took on Reno 1868 FC at home. The match was a tough event that saw OKC end the night victorious. Newly signed forward Jose Angulo scored the game’s one and only goal, which provided the Energy with a massive three points.
With the midweek win, OKC rose above the playoff line for the first time in weeks. They now covet the eighth and final playoff spot with 26 points in hand. The placement is not permanent because ninth placed Orange County SC has four games in hand over OKC. Nevertheless, solid form and a boost in the table is something everyone can get behind.
Reno was no easy task. A 1-0 win typically entails that a team barely gained an upper edge, but now the Energy have an even greater challenge this Saturday night. Jimmy Nielsen and company have to play Real Monarchs SLC, the best team in the USL.
The Monarchs have a combined 15-2-3 record that gives them 48 points in the standings, eight above second placed San Antonio FC. At this point in the season, it is safe to say that Real will likely win the regular season.
With their veteran striker Chandler Hoffmann leading the way with 13 goals in 19 games, the Monarchs offense is threatening and will probably prove difficult for the OKC Energy.
Saturday night’s game will be a contest you won’t want to miss. Two of the Western Conference’s most in-form teams will compete at Taft Stadium. As the Energy look to continue their rise in the table, Real will strive to stretch their lead at the top.
Projected starting XI:
Energy FC: Laurendi; R. Dixon, Fink, Daly, Hyland; A. Dixon, Andrews, Wallace, Barril; M. Gonzalez, Angulo
Real Monarchs: Sparrow; Dunk, Schmidt, Schuler, Lachowecki; Adams, Besler, Minter, Haber; Velasquez, Hoffman
Location: Taft Stadium; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Time & Date: 7:30 PM CT on August 5
Previous Meeting: Real Monarchs won 3-1 (Hoffman 2x, Karsten Hanlin 1x, Alex Dixon 1x)
Prediction: Draw, 1-1 (Angulo 1x, Hoffman)