Oklahoma City Police escorted game officials off the field following Energy FC’s 1-1 draw with Arizona United on Thursday night at Pribil Stadium.
Referee Leland Grant blew the final whistle in the 92nd minute. Players from both soccer teams rushed toward Grant demanding an answer why the game was stopped when they apparently thought five mintues of extra time remained. Grant continued to wave his hands, signaling the end of the game.
Police on the sideline came to the rescue, leading officials to their locker room and leaving players and 2,813 fans to only guess what happened.
Game officials were not available for comment after the game. Energy FC assistant general manager Sandy Richardson said, “No one is allowed to approach an official after the match.”
Oklahoma City coach Jimmy Nielsen said: “I’ve been in this game for a long time, and I have not experienced anything like that. The fourth official was telling us there were seven (added extra time) minutes to the end of the game... why he (Grant) blew the whistle, it’s only him who can answer that question.”
The confusion started after two whistles against Arizona on attempted corner kicks for Energy FC.
The first corner was blown dead before it even started because an Arizona player pulled down an Energy player. The second corner from midfielder Michael Thomas resulted in a Mark Howard goal, but the referee blew it dead as once again as an Arizona player pulled down an Energy player, resulting in another penalty kick for Energy FC.
Thomas nailed the kick with a shot to the right side of the net to equalize the match and extend Energy FC’s unbeaten streak to eight games.
“I had missed one earlier this year,” Thomas said about a penalty kick. “Ever since that I was so ready to take the next one. I’ve been practicing it in training for the past two months. I knew where I was going. I had my spot, and I picked it and fortunately it went in.”
Arizona kicked off after Thomas’ goal, and the referee blew the final whistle that led to postgame confusion and police intervention.
Energy FC had been outscored 13-8 in the first half of all contests this season, and Thursday night was no different. Arizona took nine shots in the first half. The eighth shot came in stoppage time of the first half from team captain Matt Kassel, and Energy FC goalkeeper Samir Badr made his fourth save of the night. However, the ball bounced off of Badr’s hands, and Arizona forward Long Tan knocked in his first goal of the season to put Arizona up 1-0 heading into intermission.
Energy FC did its best to turn the tide in the second half. Badr didn’t have to save any more shots from Arizona, which finished with 13 attempts.
Energy FC has a quick turnaround, hosting the Los Angeles Galaxy II on Saturday at 7 p.m. Galaxy II, which is also a USL Pro expansion team, was the last squad to defeat Energy FC in a regular season. the Galaxy cruised to a 5-0 rout on May 25.