Oklahoma City Energy FC hosts L.A. Galaxy II at 7 p.m. Saturday at Pribil Stadium, and the game is an important one for the home team.
Defender Peabo Doue says it’s a must win, and the United Soccer Leagues Pro standings bear that out. Energy FC has slipped after two straight losses, and with only five matches remaining until the playoffs start, Energy FC sits alone in the last spot, eighth place.
“I think every game is a must win,” Doue said. “Our mentality is we’re starting the playoffs right now. We lose, we have the mentality that we’re out. It may not mean if we lose we’re not going to make the playoffs, but that’s how we’re thinking. We want to put everything on the field like it’s our last game. And I think that’s a good mentality to have.”
Energy FC doesn’t get the best opponent to have a must-win match against, however. Galaxy II is a perfect 3-0 against Oklahoma City this season, with two wins coming in Los Angeles. Galaxy II defeated Energy FC 1-0 at Pribil Stadium on July 19, a stark contrast to the combined 9-2 goal differential for the two games out west.
Doue said Galaxy II moves the ball very well, which makes them a difficult opponent, but said sticking with them in the match in Oklahoma City helped.
“We hold our own and find the courage to play and maybe challenge them a bit, we’ll be fine,” Doue said. “If we defend well, like we did last time, I think we’ll be fine. They have a great team and they have our number for the season. But I think if we do what we need to do and follow our game plan, we’ll be alright.”
Part of that game plan will be slowing down a Galaxy II team that has outscored opponents 46-33 this season. Led by Chandler Hoffman and Bradford Jamieson IV, who both have spent time in the MLS with the first team, Galaxy II has a powerful offense.
Hoffman has 10 goals this season and along with his two assists, and fifth in the league with 21 points. Jamieson has six goals of his own, and forward Charles Rugg has netted seven.
Energy FC coach Jimmy Nielsen said despite a 2-1 loss to Arizona United on Thursday night, his team played some of its best soccer all season. He said the Energy will have to replicate that performance against Galaxy II if they want to get three points.
“It’s very similar to playoffs now,” Nielsen said. “If we lose tomorrow, we’re probably out of the playoffs, and if we win tomorrow, then we’re probably in, and that’s the way it’s going to continue until the last game. But as a soccer fan, this is the moment you should love and be excited about.”