Oklahoma City Energy FC opened training camp Monday morning in preparation for its inaugural season in the United Soccer League's Pro division.
The team had 18 players in camp at North Oklahoma City Soccer Club. Twelves of those players have already signed, and the rest are hoping their work in combines and tryouts leads to a contract. Fresh off what Jimmy Nielsen called a successful open tryout, the first-year coach was glad to finally get to work with his team.
“It was an awesome day. It's the day we've been waiting for,” Nielsen said. “Just being out there with the guys was fantastic.”
A surprise fitness test took up most of the morning for the Energy. Nielsen said he is anxious to get the results.
“When we get the results from the fitness test we'll know how hard to push these guys,” Nielsen said. “The season is very long and we have to be careful with the players.”
Michael Thomas, who plays center-mid, said Energy FC needs to pride itself on being the fittest team in the league.
The team also worked on technical drills and scrimmaged to close the first day.
Despite having only met his teammates one by one in the last few days, Thomas said they had immediate chemistry.
“That's been the best part of it so far, not knowing what to expect from each other, we're on the same page,” Thomas said. “It's been a smooth transition. The coaches have done a good job bringing in the right guys.”
The six unsigned players participating in camp were picked from various combines and private tryouts. Nielsen was hopeful for them, and said he would be surprised if the team didn't sign some of them.
Oklahoma City has a full schedule of practices for training camp including two-a-days most of the next two weeks. Then the coaching staff and members of the front office will head to Kansas City on Feb. 28 for the second scheduled open tryout. Sporting Kansas City, Energy FC's Major League Soccer affiliate, will host the tryouts.
There is still almost two months until the Oklahoma City's season begins. Energy FC will kick off the season in Los Angeles against Orange County Football Club on April 5. The team will stay there to play Los Angeles Galaxy II on April 7. Energy FC's first home game isn't until April 26.