Oklahoma City Energy FC has an affiliation with Major League Soccer club Sporting Kansas City. The partnership allows for Sporting KC to loan Energy FC some of its players to gain experience and earn playing time they aren’t getting with the MLS side.
Last week, Sporting KC, who also is affiliated with Orlando City, recalled Mikey Lopez from Orlando, another USO Pro club, and immediately loaned the midfielder to Oklahoma City. Lopez joined the team in North Carolina for its two matches with Wilmington and Charlotte last Friday and Saturday.
Lopez wasn’t seeing much time with Orlando City, which is set to become an MLS club in 2015. Oklahoma City coach Jimmy Nielsen is excited to have Lopez, as he thinks the move will pay off for the Energy.
“He’s a midfielder who can attack,” Nielsen said. “He can also help us when we sit back with the ball.”
Lopez was drafted by Sporting KC with the 14th pick in the MLS SuperDraft in 2013. He didn’t make any appearances with Sporting KC during the season, but did get on the pitch in the team’s 2-0 win against the Des Moines Menace in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Cup.
This season, Sporting KC shipped Lopez to Orlando City to get some minutes for their young star. The minutes never came, though. Lopez played nine games with Orlando this season, including two against Oklahoma City, but only totaled 169 minutes. That’s just 18 per game.
Lopez attempted two shots with Orlando, a far cry from the work he did in leading North Carolina to the 2011 NCAA championship while being named ACC Freshman of the Year.
Energy FC captain and fellow midfielder Michael Thomas shares Nielsen’s joy in welcoming Lopez to Oklahoma City. Thomas knows Lopez will bring value and experience to the table and help Oklahoma City, which hasn’t lost in its last three matches.
“Even though he’s a young player, you know, he’s been around,” Thomas said. “He was with Sporting Kansas City for the past year before he went to Orlando. So he was around good players all the time and played in some important games. He brings another quality player to our team, we’re excited to have him here.”
Lopez joined Oklahoma City for its 2-2 draw with Wilmington last Friday. Again, Lopez didn’t get too many minutes, just 15 to be exact. But the next night in Charlotte, he played the full 90 minutes in another Energy FC draw.
“He did well,” Thomas said. “In Charlotte, I think it took him a little time to get into it but after 15-20 minutes, it took us all a little time to get going. But after 15-20 minutes we slowed down and did well. And like I said, he did well going forward, he was very composed on the ball and did well defensively.”
Lopez could prove valuable for Energy FC. Nielsen likes his attacking skills, and Energy FC could use them. OKC ranks sixth in the league in scoring with 15 goals. Energy FC (3-7-2) has been shut out three times this season and sits in ninth place in the current USL Pro standings. They return to action at 7 p.m.Saturday at home against Sacramento