Energy FC have undergone a shift in mentality over the past month.
In a game where Oklahoma City was outshot 15-4, and had a player sent off in the 64th minute, the team is still disappointed to only leave tonight with a draw.
“We’ve been working really hard in training and changing the mentality. Its coming to crunch time where playoffs are on the line, so I think it comes from the training ground,” defender Kyle Hyland said.
“Everybody is pushing and the mentality has changed and the fight has changed, and that’s everybody from top to bottom.”
Oklahoma City hosted their in-state rivals, the Tulsa Roughnecks, Saturday night at Taft Stadium. Just like their first meeting, the teams had to split the spoils and settle for a 1-1 draw.
Christian Eissele opened the scoring for Oklahoma City in the 17 minutes into the game. Eissele headed home a throw-in from Hyland, smoothly flicking the ball inside the back post.
“Kyle’s got a long throw. I just saw it the whole way, and got a good header,” Eissele said of his goal. “It was fun to get on the score sheet again.”
The Energy shot themselves in the foot just five minutes later.
Miscommunication between defender Atiba Harris and goalkeeper Cody Laurendi saw Harris head the ball over the outstretched hands of the advancing Laurendi inside the box. Roughnecks forward Rodrigo da Costa was waiting, and slotted the ball into the empty net to level the game.
“I take 100 percent responsibility for that,” Laurendi said. “I was being a little over ambitious; I was just trying to make a play.”
The game completely changed for Oklahoma City with half an hour left in the game. Midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson was whistled for a foul on Tulsa forward Janu Silva, picking up his second yellow card of the game and earning himself an early shower.
Energy coach Steve Cooke did not think Watson’s foul was deserving of a second yellow card.
“It looked like two players went in with their feet up and Je-Vaughn got there first and the ball got away from both players and that was the end of it,” Cooke said.
“Soft is a ridiculously large understatement.”
For the last 30 minutes of the game, the Energy defended valiantly down a man.
“Credit to the players, their ability to keep fighting was exceptional,” Cooke said. “From that moment, the guys on the field did a fantastic job of being resolute and strong.”
Laurendi was also pleased with the team’s response to the red card, especially when the team has failed to respond to negative events in prior games.
“I think what is important is how you respond after. For you to go into a shell of yourself is no good,” Laurendi said. “I thought the guys in front of me showed great resilience.”
The response was so positive, the team seemed dejected they didn’t finish the game off and add a second goal despite playing with only 10 men.
“We want three points every time we go out on the field,” Eissele said. “It’s a testament to these guys.”
Oklahoma City will have to refocus quickly, as they host Frenso FC next Saturday, who currently sit in third place in the Western Conference.
“We have 33 percent of the season still to go. Our job is to recover from this, refocus on Monday and get back to work,” Cooke said.
Energy FC will take the field again at 8 p.m. next Saturday at Taft Stadium.