In a game of firsts, Oklahoma City Energy FC extended its unbeaten streak to six games.
Energy FC defeated Sacramento Republic FC 2-0 in United Soccer League Pro action on Saturday night at Pribil Stadium before a crowd of 3,643.
Energy FC (5-7-3) defender Mark Howard scored his first goal of the season in the 52nd minute to break open a scoreless game, and Mikey Lopez, who is on loan from Sporting Kansas City, added his first goal of the season in the 67th minute to put the game away.
Lopez’s goal came on an assist from McGuinness alum Steven Perry after Danny Delgado stole possession from Sacramento at midfield. Delgado signed with the team earlier this week and made his debut in the 60th minute.
“Perry made a good run to suck in the left back,” Lopez said. “He played me wide and I thought, ‘I’ll just take a hit and see what happens.’”
Lopez fired the shot past Sacramento goalkeeper Dominik Jakubek.
Oklahoma City saw Sacramento (8-5-2) fire seven shots in the first half, and Sacramento had at least four chances early in the second half but couldn’t convert. Sacramento took a shot and it hit the crossbar. Oklahoma City goalkeeper Jon Kempin rebounded quickly and Oklahoma City was on the run.
“That’s just how soccer is,” Lopez said. “If you don’t take your chances, you’ll get punished on the other side. Luckily they didn’t score and we did.”
Energy FC coach Jimmy Nielsen said a turn in field position in the second half contributed to Oklahoma City’s late success.
“I think we succeed a little better in second half,” Nielsen said. “Playing more on their half and winning the ball high on the field as well, it was our turn to get some set pieces on their half. And you know with those set pieces, anything can happen.”
Kempin finished with one save on the night and was taken out of the game after taking a couple hard falls. Samir Badr came on after 77 minutes, the first time the home crowd got to see him in action. Sacramento didn’t attempt any shots with Badr in goal.
Energy FC gets an extended layoff before continuing its midseason homestand. Pittsburgh visits Oklahoma City on July 12 in the fourth of six straight home matches.