Oklahoma City Energy FC hosts the Charleston Battery at 7 p.m. Sunday in the final regular-season home game for Energy FC.
It’s been tough sledding of late for Energy FC (8-12-5) with four straight losses. The slump has put the expansion franchise in jeopardy of missing the playoffs, as the current United Soccer League table has OKC in 10th place.
This is the first and only meeting between the two clubs. Charleston (8-8-8) is currently in sixth place and hasn’t lost a match in its last seven contests, dating back to early July. Charleston has four wins and three draws in those matches.
“They struggled in the beginning but it seems like things are going their way right now,” Energy FC coach Jimmy Nielsen said. “They’ve found their form at the right time.”
Energy FC has a familiar face back in the lineup Sunday night. Christian Duke is back after missing extended time with a foot injury. Duke is on loan from Sporting Kansas City, and went down with a stress fracture in his foot in mid-June and missed 11 games.
Nielsen said Duke’s rehab went really well at first but maybe too well. Duke got back on the field for training, and Nielsen said he could still feel the injury, which extended his time on the shelf. But Duke is back now and fully recovered according to Nielsen, and that was evident in Energy FC’s 1-0 loss in Arizona on Friday night. Nielsen inserted Duke into the game coming out of the locker room at halftime played 45 minutes.
“Duke looked fine,” Nielsen said. “Of course he’s working hard to get back to his game fitness but it’s only coming with minutes on the field. You know you can practice yourself to a certain point but you got to play, you got to be in the games. And it’s just around the corner before he’s good for 90 minutes.”
Duke back in the lineup certainly doesn’t guarantee Energy FC a victory, but the addition will help.
“He is one of those guys that brings the right attitude every time,” Nielsen said. “And that will help us in these last few games.”