I’ve been a little backlogged this week being on the road every day so far and haven’t had a whole lot of opportunity to write. Because of that, this will be an incredibly abbreviated Week 5 preview. So far this week, Sacramento has claimed a 2-0 victory against Whitecaps 2 that included this beauty from Rodrigo Lopez, Louisville and Rochester played to a 1-1 draw and Tulsa claimed their historic first win in franchise history over the previously undefeated Sounders 2 in a crazy game that featured five goals in the first 25 minutes and ended 4-3 in favor of the hosts.
The Roughnecks were rather inconsiderate in ruining what was slated to be a battle of two undefeated teams in our Game of the Week between the Oklahoma City Energy and the Sounders. However, there is still plenty to like about this matchup as OKC finally has a home game. Not only that, but it will take play at the historic Taft Stadium which has enjoyed several renovations over the last year. Without further ado, let’s break down this week’s Game of the Week.
Scouting the Sounders 2
Despite dropping a 4-3 game to Tulsa, the Sounders have been the toast of the Western Conference throughout the early USL season. Head coach Ezra Hendrickson has his charges operating at peak levels, as the team has averaged at over three goals a game. He’s already seen off both Cascadia rivals so far, so S2’s supporters have much to be pleased with.
An incredibly balanced attack features four multi-goal scorers and a total of eight different players with goals after just four games. Darwin Jones currently leads the team with three goals to his name, but has failed to find the back of the net the last two games after an emphatic debut. Qudus Lawal, however, picked up the slack against Tulsa, bagging a brace. The rapidly emerging Andy Craven has been incredibly influential, serving up a team-best three assists, including our assist of the week for Week 4, to go along with two goals.
Seattle currently leads the league with 13 goals and, as mentioned above, are averaging 3.25 shots. An incredibly active shooting team, they are tied for the second-most shots per game at 14.0 and have the third-most total shots at 56. The goals haven’t been totally based off individual brilliance either, as 69.2 percent of their goals have been assisted.
On the defensive front, S2 has allowed seven goals on 35 shots. While opposing teams haven’t been necessarily getting the best looks at goal, those seven goals came on just 11 shots on goal. Keeper Charlie Lyon has one clean sheet to his credit, but has just a .300 save percentage to go along with a 1.75 goals against average.
Scouting the Energy
Jimmy Nielsen returns for a second season on the touchline for the Energy, and currently has then sitting at 1-0-1. They tied 1-1 after surrendering the lead to in-state rival Tulsa at ONEOK. The team followed that up with a 2-1 victory over Switchbacks FC that required a late winner by Danni Konig. Last season, the Energy went 5-7-2 at home, but was streak-prone.
Through two games, the OKC side is average 1.5 goals per game. Konig’s brace has him with the team lead in goals scored, while the captain, Michael Thomas, has also recorded a goal this season. Of their three goals, two have been assisted thanks to Chuy Sanchez and Thomas.
The team manages to take 13.0 shots per game in one of the smaller sample sizes so far in the league, and has put five shots on target per game. Konig has a team-best eight shots, while Sanchez and Sebastian Delgaard have both seen five efforts fail to turn into goals.
Defensively, the Energy is giving up a goal a game. The backline has been anchored by familiar faces to the Grid in Cyprian Hedrick and Peabo Doue, while new addition Jacob VanCompernolle has gone the full 90 minutes in both matches so far. From what I’ve seen so far, Thomas has been moved from his center midfield position last year into an outside back, while Gareth Evans has replaced Thomas and shields the backline.
Evan Newton boasts a .714 save percentage, and has been significantly more active in the first half where he has collected four of his five saves. The defense will need to stay awake in the second half, as both goals they’ve conceded have come in the second half, also known has the half that the Sounders have scored seven goals.
The center official for the match will be Leszek Stalmach. He will be assisted by Joel McKell and James Meade. Truman Berghall will serve as the fourth official.
Taft Stadium was a Works Projects Administration (WPA) construction job in 1934 and has been a centerpiece of athletics for the Oklahoma City metro area. It served as the home of the Oklahoma City Slickers of the old North American Soccer League in 1982 and 1983 and Oklahoma City Stampede of the old United Soccer League (folded in 1985 after one season) in 1984, and Saturday’s game will mark the return of professional soccer to the venerable old stadium.