OKLAHOMA CITY – Arun Basuljevic’s first goal of the season arrived at just the right time for OKC Energy FC as he provided the winner with 12 minutes to go in a 2-1 victory against Rio Grande Valley FC at Taft Stadium on Sunday evening that moved the hosts level on points with Indy Eleven for fourth place in the USL Championship’s Central Division.
The Toros had an early effort from long range by James Murphy in the opening five minutes that went off target, but the first good chance came to the hosts as Villyan Bijev sharply brought down a long pass upfield by Lamar Batista and got past a defender into the left side of the penalty area for a shot that was saved well by RGVFC’s Tyler Deric.
Energy FC went close again in the 25th minute as Seyi Adekoya got on the end of a cross by Zach Ellis-Hayden from the right that curled to the back post where Adekoya’s header came back off the right upright, but a minute later Energy FC took the lead as Bijev created space on the left for a low cross that found the run of Jaime Chavez to the near post for the veteran forward to finish just inside the post.
The lead lasted only five minutes, however, as RGVFC replied in the 31st minute when Sorto received a pass from Vicente Sanchez as he cut into the left side of the penalty area before clipping a pass centrally for Elvis Amoh to cushion home a finish into the right corner of the net for his seventh goal of the season.
The Toros then went close to taking the lead just before the hour mark as Juan Carlos Azocar controlled a lifted pass forward by Erik Pimentel on his chest as he moved into the penalty area but sent his finish on the half-volley over the crossbar from the left side of the box. Amoh also threatened his second of the night for the visitors with 16 minutes to go as a lifted ball forward by Murphy set up a powerful strike by the Ghanaian that rang the crossbar and caromed away to safety.
Energy FC took the lead in the 78th minute, however, as Basuljevic put home a scrambled chance in the penalty area. After an initial ball from the left caromed to Tucker Stephenson, the forward centered for a shot by Hiroki Kurimoto that was blocked, only for the ball to rebound to Basuljevic for a first-time finish that found the left corner of the net. From there, OKC saw out the game well as the Toros were held without a clear chance to level as to hosts picked up an important win toward their playoff aspirations.
USLChampionship.com Man of the Match
Conor Donovan, OKC Energy FC – Donovan had a solid game overall and helped keep the Toros in check late after Energy FC had regained the lead, finishing the game with seven clearances and two interceptions while winning 4 of 5 aerial duels.
OKC – Jaime Chavez (Villyan Bijev) 26’
RGV – Elvis Amos (Christian Sorto) 31’
OKC – Arun Basuljevic 78’