By: Walter Agnitsch
If you were wondering if Oklahoma City was big enough for two lower level professional soccer teams I think you got your answer last night. Last night was the first meeting between Rayo OKC and Energy FC in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.
The game was played in Miller stadium in Yukon, Oklahoma. The game was really a tale of two halves, in the beginning it was the defense of the Energy that kept them in the game. They were hustling to every loose ball and playing really good man to man defense. In my opinion, the man of the match was Energy goalie Cody Laurendi having save after save keeping the Energy in the match.
In the 43rd minute it was just too much of an attack and Rayo OKC went up 1 to nil on a put back by Billy Forbes. That didn’t get the Energy down as Sebastian Dalgaard put in the equalizer in stoppage time of the first half.
The second half the Energy came out ready to play having more intensity than RAYO, having multiple shots on goal the Energy were just not able to get the go ahead goal and it went into extra time. In the 17th minute of the second half of extra time it was Kyle Hyland that put in a beautiful header to go up 2-1. That ended up being the dagger and Rayo just fell apart.
Two players were ejected, including Derek Boateng, who many of you know from his battles with the USMNT in the World Cup playing for the Ghana National team. The Energy grind it out and get the 2-1 victory over Rayo OKC. The Energy FC will play on June 15 against Dallas FC. In their previous match against FC Dallas in February, the Energy lost 2-1.
When the game first started I looked into the crowd of almost 5,000 people to see what the divide was between Energy and Rayo fans. I felt the divide was probably around 3,000 Rayo fans to 2,000 Energy fans.
That didn’t matter though as the you could feel the Energy fans passion and love for their team, everyone was dressed in green and the atmosphere just felt more of a home game for the Energy then for the Rayo.
This game made up in my mind that there is only room for one team in Oklahoma and that belongs to the Energy. Rayo in their first season has seen a decline in ticket sales, in the first game sell out, but after that it just keeps dropping and dropping besides the game last night.
The Energy are in a better location playing close to a very popular soccer area and still being a 15-minute drive from Edmond which is a very popular soccer area as well. I feel this city is ready for a MLS team and the Energy should be given that opportunity. The average attendance at MLS games is around 21,000 fans if you combine the Rayo fans and Energy fans you will have more than enough fans.
The next question is can you add the 13,000 extra seats to Taft stadium, is that a real possibility? I think so but it will take another 13-20 million dollars to be invested into Taft Stadium. Oklahoma City is tired of watching tier 2 professional teams which is why teams like the Blazers, Yardawgs, and Redhawks didn’t work.
The Thunder have made such a huge impact on the city and a MLS team would only add to it. The Energy have proven that soccer in Oklahoma City was a fantastic idea and we have witnessed some of the most loyal soccer fans in OKC, attendance for Energy FC averaged over 4,000 people per game,last season. It’s time to show that Oklahoma City is now a big market and ready for bigger and better sports teams.