Courtesy OKC Energy FC/Steven Christy
Unbeaten in the month of July, Sacramento Republic FC return home on Saturday for CA State Fair Night at Papa Murphy’s Park, looking to continue their recent success.
Prior to the match, get to know opponent OKC Energy FC.
Following his seven-year tenure within the coaching system of MLS side Colorado Rapids, Steve Cooke was named OKC Energy’s newest coach in December of 2017. A native of Sheffield, England, Cooke brings elite coaching qualifications to Energy FC as he is one of four coaches in the USL to have earned their Pro License from U.S. Soccer. He also holds UEFA “A” and USSF “A” Coaching Licenses.
Cooke kicked off his Colorado career in 2010 as Technical Director of the Rapids’ development academy. Two years later, he also became the first team’s assistant coach and held the title until mid-2017 when he was promoted to interim head coach of the Rapids. Prior to his stint in Colorado, Cooke spent time in the southwest as the Technical Director of Neusport Football Club in Las Vegas as well as the Director of Coaching for Serano Soccer Club and SC Del Sol in Arizona. Before coming to the states, Cooke spent six years as the Youth Team Coach and Centre of Excellence Director for Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, then of the English Premier League.
Former MLS player Alex Dixon has proved a stalwart in the midfield for Energy FC in 2018, leading the team in scoring and assists. His five goals this season are just two short of his USL season-high from 2017, while his three assists through 19 matches have already matched his season bests (2015, 2014) recorded as a member of the Rochester Rhinos. Dixon has also collected 15 key passes on the season thus far.
After undergoing a successful surgery to repair an injury to the upper region of his right leg suffered in the second half of Energy FC’s 1-1 draw against Colorado Springs on July 7, Matt VanOekel has been ruled out for the remainder of the season. While the 31-year-old goalkeeper—who started 18 of 19 games and complied a 1.44 goals against average as well as three clean sheets—recovers, his squad will look to recent signee Cody Laurendi to keep the team afloat. Laurendi, who suffered a knee injury while playing for OKC in 2017, is the team leader in every major goalkeeping category such as wins (18) and shutouts (20). He returns to the club with a two-year record of 18-18-17.
Since 2015, Taft Stadium has hosted OKC Energy’s home matches in Oklahoma City. The stadium, a WPA-built facility, was originally opened in 1934 with a capacity of 18,200 fans and continues to be owned by the Oklahoma City Public Schools. With its recent renovation from 2013 to 2015, the capacity dipped to 7,500 prior to OKC’s signing of a multi-year lease in 2015. The pitch features a turf playing surface.
Through 19 matches this season, Energy FC have accumulated a 6-10-3 record in USL play, good for 12th place in the Western Conference standings. The Oklahoma City team kicked off the season with a 1-0 shutout of Tulsa Roughnecks FC at Taft Stadium before diving into an abysmal slump. Over the course of the next two months, Energy FC lost eight-straight games, suffering shutouts in six of the eight.
OKC secured just their second win of the season with a 1-0 win over Colorado Springs Switchbacks May 19 before drawing 1-1 in their second meeting with Roughnecks FC to close out the month. The month of June brought a much needed turnaround for Energy FC as the squad kickstarted a six-game unbeaten streak with a 2-1 downing of Portland Timbers 2 at Providence Park. Since June 13, OKC Energy FC has played to a 4-0-2 record.
Saturday’s match between Republic FC and OKC Energy FC, presented by UC Davis Health, will kick off at 8:00 p.m. at Papa Murphy’s Park.
Updates will be provided via Twitter at @SacRepublicFC or using #SACvSEA.
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