By Sam Agnitsch
It was a wild Saturday night at Taft Stadium as the OKC Energy looked to avenge a June loss to Rio Grande Valley and continue their climb in the standings. In a game that featured seven combined cards and 25 total fouls, the physical tone was set from kickoff and picked up throughout the evening. Neither team being particularly shy about showing their dislike for the other.
The Energy got off to a fast start courtesy of midfielder Wojciech Wojcik when his shot outside the box hit the top of the crossbar in the opening minute. The Energy continued to press forward, focusing on the wings, allowing forward Danni Konig to slip behind the defense twice, one shot being saved and one painfully finding the woodwork hitting the left post after beating RGV goalie Callum Irving in the 10th minute. Still the Energy stayed aggressive, attacking consistently in the Toro half, earning corners and just missing on a couple header opportunities before halftime. Sadly, missed chances would become a recurring theme.
You could feel a tension between the clubs in the opening half which finally boiled over in the second as the cards began to fly. Open play and hard challenges led to a frantic back and forth pace, albeit a chippy one, as words and fouls were exchanged on several plays. Energy keeper Cody Laurendi was called on twice in the 53rd and 55th minutes, handling a long range shot and following it up with a fantastic point blank save in front of goal.
That’s when things got really interesting. The referee, having denied two OKC penalty chances earlier in the game, booked the Toros with a red card for a foul inside the box setting up a penalty and dropping RGV to 10 men in the 71st minute. In what appeared to be a chance for Konig to finally break out of his scoring drought, he was denied by Irving making a diving save to his right. Konig would get a chance at redemption when RGV was again whistled for a foul inside the box just 3 minutes later in the 74th minute giving OKC another penalty attempt. This time Konig sent it high over the crossbar and into the crowd.
The Energy moved up their backline and pushed forward the rest of the game hoping to take advantage of the red card but with RGV retreating inside their own half, space inside was hard to come by. OKC was denied for the final time inside the box by Irving on a Jordan Rideout 87th minute shot. RGV in a last gasp effort to steal the match attacked on the counter and was able to find space in front but Laurendi was equal to the task, making a diving one handed save to preserve the tie and ending the game 0-0.
The Energy now move to (6-5-6) on the season and will play next at San Antonio July 9th, kickoff at 7:30 PM
Total Shots: OKC-11, RGV- 8
Total Saves: OKC-5 (Laurendi), RGV- 4 (Callum)
Fouls: OKC-15, RGV- 10
Head Coach Jimmy Nielson
“Definitely not the refs fault we didn’t win this game”
On scoring chances:
“We created the chances we needed to win the game but didn’t finish them unfortunately”
Energy Goalie Cody Laurendi
On Defensive Chemistry:
“It’s really a joy to back them up because they bring everything they have every time they step onto the field”
“Guys in front of me week in and week out are consummate professionals”
-Konig hitting a post and 2 missed PK’s during this goal drought is just brutal. Really have to feel for the guy, especially considering how hard he busts his ass on the field
-If the Energy wants to continue their climb in the standings though it’s no secret they need Danni confident and scoring.
-Laurendi was clutch tonight and easily OKC’s man of the match. He’s solidifying himself as one of the top keepers in the league.
-2 pk’s in 4 minutes, 19 total shots, 25 total fouls and 7 cards. Most entertaining 0-0 soccer match ever.
– Apparently one of the RGV players forgot his shorts when he subbed in? Not sure how that happens but some lucky fans got a little extra bang for their buck in the front row.