Oklahoma City Energy FC continues to build its roster and two key figures have been added in Jon Kempin and Christian Duke.
Since Oklahoma City and Kansas City announced a partnership in December the question has been, who will Sporting KC send to Oklahoma on loan? Kempin and Duke are the answer. It might not stop there but Kansas City is only required to loan at least two players to Energy FC as part of the partnership between MLS and USL.
Kempin becomes Oklahoma City’s third goalkeeper along with Samir Badr and Norman native Ray Clark. Kempin could be the starter when the season begins April 5 given the season he had last year while on loan to Orlando City. The 20-year old keeper recorded 34 saves in nine games.
“Jon has been in a very competitive environment from such a young age that he has already gained so much experience at the goalkeeper position,” Michael Thomas said. “He’s a vocal kid and he knows the game well.”
Thomas, a midfielder, said despite Kempin not being the tallest goalkeeper, his ability to cut off angles and make superb saves is excellent.
Duke also spent last season with Orlando City, who is still a partner with Kansas City for this year before they move up to the MLS in 2015. Duke plays midfield and last year in Orlando was named the team’s top rookie. The 22-year old had one goal and one assist in 22 games.
Orlando City SC won the 2013 USL Pro Championship, Duke was a starter. He joins a group of five other midfielders vying for minutes when the season kicks off.
“Christian is a solid two-way midfielder who you can always depend on,” Thomas said. “He’s very good at keeping the flow of the game going and is always looking to be a threat going forward.”
The flow of the game was what coach Jimmy Nielsen said was the biggest problem in the team’s first preseason game. They got a victory, but Nielsen likened the offense to a sputtering car.
The offense has smoothed out quite a bit as evident in Oklahoma City’s second and third matches. Energy FC defeated Oral Roberts 4-0 and Northeastern 5-1.
Thomas also said about Duke that his work ethic is top-class.
“He’s someone who comes in every day willing to learn and wanting to become a better player,” Thomas said. “He has the right attitude to be a very successful player.”
Oklahoma City is in Texas continuing its training camp. Energy FC plays Tyler Junior College on March 19 and SMU on March 22.
The team also announced the addition of a sixth preseason game, March 29 against Midwestern State. The home match will be played at 7 p.m. in Yukon at the school’s soccer field.