It wasn’t so long ago when Danny Delgado was sitting at home, hoping he could play soccer.
After suffering an injury that sidelined him for the Ventura County Fusion of the Premier Development League, Delgado didn’t care where or when. The 22-year-old midfielder just wanted to get on the field.
Then the phone rang. It was Oklahoma City Energy FC.
Fast forward to Thursday. Delgado is leading Energy FC and its seven-game unbeaten streak against Arizona United at 7 p.m. at Pribil Stadium on the Bishop McGuinness High School campus.
Arizona was the last team to beat Energy FC, a 2-1 extra-time win that knocked Oklahoma City out of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. Delgado didn’t play for the team yet, but he knows the significance of Thursday’s match.
“I’ve been following the team, and I’ve heard about that game so we got to beat them,” Delgado said.
Delgado’s sudden rise has changed an Energy FC team that suddenly is making a playoff push. Energy FC (6-7-3) is tied for seventh place in the United Soccer League’s Pro Division. Eight teams make the playoffs in September, and seventh place is a far cry from where Energy FC found itself two months ago.
Delgado received an invitation to work out with Energy FC on a trial basis. After almost a month of training, Energy FC signed Delgado for the remainder of the season.
Oklahoma City got its first look at Delgado against Sacramento Republic FC on June 28. Delgado entered in the 60th minute and immediately impacted the offense. He sliced through the Sacramento defense and got the ball ahead to Steven Perry, who found a wide open Mikey Lopez for a goal.
Paired with a solid performance on the field and hard work in practice, Delgado was inserted into the starting lineup last week against Pittsburgh. Again, he changed the offense.
Delgado scored his first goal in an Energy FC uniform in the 19th minute, shaking off a few defenders right in front of Pittsburgh’s goalkeeper.
Energy FC coach Jimmy Nielsen has been nothing short of impressed with Delgado’s start. Nielsen said this is an example of what happens when you show up to practice with the right attitude.
“I think I’m a little different kind of player,” Delgado said. “I think everybody here brings their own thing. I think I’m technical. Sometimes you find the smaller guys are the more technical, and I’m a little taller so I think it’s surprising to some of the players.”
Delgado said he wasn’t sure what to expect the first time he got on the field with Energy FC. But the University of San Diego graduate has adapted at a fast pace.
“The first time I got on the field I didn’t know what to expect,” Delgado said. “It’s intense out there. It’s harder than it looks. I just got to keep working hard. Hopefully this team keeps winning and we make the playoffs. I think the most important thing is for the team to win. Whether I’m starting or coming off the bench or whatever, I think everybody here just wants to win.”