Jimmy Nielsen said he isn’t satisfied with the way the season has played out for Oklahoma City. But the coach also said he absolutely wasn’t going to hit the panic button after Energy FC’s 2-7 start.
Defender Kyle Miller said, “not at all,” in regards to the panic button.
Oklahoma City hosts the New York Red Bulls Reserves at 7 p.m. Saturday at Pribil Stadium.
Energy FC is in 13th place in the current United Soccer League’s Pro division standings and hasn’t won a regular-season match since April 12. Nielsen’s optimism has bled into the team. Miller said the season is long and a win can do a lot for anybody in this league.
“We are well aware of the table and a win will put us right back in the playoff mix,” Miller said. “Maybe one or two spots out. There are a lot of games to go.”
A win would bump Oklahoma City up to a tie for ninth place, just outside of the eight-team playoffs. But the playoffs don’t start until September. Energy FC has to worry about a Red Bulls team that will feature top talent.
The Red Bulls Reserve team is just 1-3-1 this season, but Miller is expecting a fight.
“They’ll be good,” Miller said. “They’ll have a lot of experience, MLS experience. They’ll have really good individual players. If we take the positives from Wednesday about how compact we were and how good defensively we were, the goals will come. We’ll get in the final third and be a little more patient and confident our strikers can put some goals in.”
Oklahoma City lost 2-1 to Arizona United in the third round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup on Wednesday night in Arizona. After Arizona scored in the 84th minute to take a 1-0 lead, Kyle Greig evened the score in stoppage time. Arizona got an extra-time goal to win.
Nielsen said the way Energy FC has been playing is good enough to win, but the players need to work on not getting down on themselves when they allow goals.
“I want to say the biggest trouble has been our confidence, we’re easy to break,” Nielsen said. “When you lose games like we have lost it’s easier and easier to break down.”
Nielsen said the schedule for June and July favors Oklahoma City and a win could do a lot for the young team’s confidence. Oklahoma City just needs to get out of May first, and the Red Bulls Reserves might have something to say about that.