Samir Badr is ready for his biggest test of the season.
The test isn’t big because of the opponent necessarily. But rather the test is big because the field is literally one of the widest soccer fields in the league.
Oklahoma City Energy FC plays Sacramento Republic FC at Bonney Field in Sacramento for the first time this season at 10 p.m. Saturday.
Sacramento (12-6-3) is also an expansion team in the United Soccer League’s Pro division and has itself currently in third place in the league’s latest table. Energy FC has defeated Sacramento twice already this season, with both defeats coming at Pribil Stadium in Oklahoma City, each with a score of 2-0. But Sacramento is a different team at home winning almost 70 percent of its contests, having only lost once.
A big part of Sacramento’ home-field advantage is the size of its field. Bonney Field is 100 yards long by 80 yards wide. To put that in perspective, Energy FC plays on a field at Bishop McGuinness High School that is 120 by 65.
Badr, who has played the full 90 minutes in goal for Energy FC over its last five matches, said his team is ready for the challenge opponents face heading into Sacramento.
“Obviously with every field, with every game it’s a different mentality,” Badr said. “I don’t think that we need our home field, we can adapt to play on any field. You have to be able to do that as a team.”
“The field is going to be a little bit bigger and we’re going to have to deal with a lot more crosses and more balls out wide.”
Energy FC coach Jimmy Nielsen said the team can’t worry about closing down the entire field but needs to plan on closing down the dangerous areas. But Nielsen also said the field can be used as an advantage for Energy FC.
“It will give us an opportunity to be better at possession too,” Nielsen said. “When we win the ball, we’re going to keep it for a while. We’re not going to Sacramento to defend.”
Badr also said Energy FC has the offensive tools in place to take advantage of the large field.
“We have a lot of guys who are good on the ball especially in the midfield and especially out wide,” Badr said. “And then we have a lot of athletic guys up top as well, guys that can get down the line, can get crosses so we’ll have a lot of space to be able to work. We have a lot of hard workers on our team especially defensively. I think if we outwork them on the field, we’ll do pretty well.”
Energy FC will need to do well on its trip to Sacramento. Currently in seventh place in the league standings, Energy FC can move up with a win, but if it loses any of the six teams closing in on the final playoff positions will be in good shape to overthrow OKC.