It’s been almost 10 months since Prodigal announced it would bring a United Soccer League Pro division franchise to Oklahoma City. The games begin Saturday, when the University of Nebraska-Omaha brings its Division I men’s team to Norman to take on Oklahoma City Energy FC in an exhibition match.
The 7 p.m. match will be at Norman North High School. The public can attend free of admission charge.
All five preseason games will feature Oklahoma City versus a collegiate opponent before the regular season kicks off April 5 against the Orange County Blues in Irvine, Calif. USL Pro, a third-tier minor league in North American soccer, has 14 teams, including 10 that serve as affiliates to Major League Soccer teams.
Oklahoma City is one of those. The Energy has a two-year partnership with Sporting Kansas City, which will allow the loaning of players throughout the season. Sporting KC has to loan a minimum of two players, but there is no limit to how many players it can loan during the season. In 2013, Dom Dwyer wreaked havoc while on loan to Orlando City SC, leading it to the USL Pro championship. Following that championship in September, Dwyer played a key role in helping Sporting Kansas City to the MLS title in December.
Another key figure on Sporting Kansas City was its goalkeeper, Jimmy Nielsen. When the partnership between Kansas City and Oklahoma City was finalized, it was announced that Nielsen would be the head coach of the Energy. Now, after a rush of recruiting to fill its roster, followed by a short two weeks of training camp, the Energy is ready to play its first exhibition match.
Despite only two weeks of practice, Nielsen said the team knows how he wants them to play. When asked if there would be adjustments to Nebraska-Omaha, Nielsen said, “No, this is Oklahoma City.
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