Samir Badr has been ready for every game this season with Oklahoma City Energy FC. However, he’d only had his name called three times before Saturday night.
After Sporting Kansas City, Energy FC’s MLS affiliate, recalled goalkeeper Jon Kempin from his loan on Wednesday, Badr became the starter. His lack of playing time didn’t hinder his performance at all as he earned the clean sheet in Energy FC’s 2-0 win over Pittsburgh at Pribil Stadium before a crowd of 3,619.
The win moved Energy FC (6-7-3) into a tie for seventh place in the league. It was also the seventh straight match without a loss for the United Soccer League Pro division expansion side.
Badr stopped two shots from the Riverhounds, lowering his goals against average to .428. He faced a lot more shots though after Energy FC took a 2-0 lead in only 18 minutes. Pittsburgh turned up the intensity, finishing with 13 attempted shots. Badr maintained his stellar performance and credited his being ready at any moment for his impressive night on Saturday.
“Every opportunity that I get I have to be prepared for,” Badr said. “The decision for me to be prepared didn’t come three days ago. For me, it’s been week in and week out. If you’re prepared, then you’ll do well.”
Badr got plenty of help from his offense. After just eight minutes Energy FC got a corner kick. Midfielder Adda Djeziri sent a perfect ball in front of the net and Michael Thomas punched in his third goal of the season giving Energy FC its earliest lead of the season.
It wasn’t ten minutes later when Djeziri got a pass into Dan Delgado, who sent in his first goal in an Energy FC uniform. Saturday was only Delgado’s second game with the team.
“It was important we wanted to start strong,” Energy FC coach Jimmy Nielsen said. “We talked about it just before we went out to the kickoff. We’ve been off for a little while and you got to kick back in the game rhythm. I’m very pleased with the start of the game.
Nielsen said after Kempin was recalled from his loan that he was comfortable with any of the goalkeepers playing for Energy FC. He said after Badr earned his second clean sheet in three games, he was proud of his effort.
Badr said Energy FC had to defend more than they wanted to in the second half, but the team handled it well. He said Pittsburgh knew if they could cut the lead to 2-1 then it would have been a whole new ballgame.
“The kind of came out with the mentality if they get one then their confidence is going to come up,” Badr said. “We wanted to go out there and grab a third (goal) but we kind of had to defend and we had our chances but I thought we did well to keep a zero.”
It was the fourth straight game, each one a home game, that Energy FC has shut out its opponent. Energy FC returns to the pitch on Thursday with a matchup with the last-place Arizona United. That game kicks off at 7 p.m. Energy FC is 1-1-0 against Arizona this season and hasn’t lost a match since Arizona eliminated Energy FC 2-1 in extra time in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.