Photo courtesy Steven Christy / OKC Energy FC
It took a while for OKC Energy FC to hit its stride properly in the 2017 season, with injuries and a seeming lack of early-season chemistry playing a part in the club’s inconsistency in the first half of the season. The midseason decision to bring in Jose Angulo on loan from Saint Louis FC paid off in a big way, though, kickstarting an attack that had only notched multiple goals twice in its first 11 games.
The side then averaged 1.7 goals per game the rest of the way, with Angulo working his way into contention for the USL Golden Boot as Energy FC earned its third consecutive berth in the USL Cup Playoffs, and a second trip to the Western Conference Final in club history. An epic penalty shootout saw the club’s hopes of a first trip to USL Cup dashed, but there was plenty to remember well from 2017 for the side.
Record: 14-7-11, 49pts
Place: Sixth in the Western Conference
Goals For: 46
Goals Against: 41
USL Cup Playoffs: Western Conference Quarterfinals (W 1-0 at Reno 1868 FC); Western Conference Semifinals (W 1-1, 4-1 on penalties at San Antonio FC); Western Conference Final (L 0-0, 7-6 on penalties at Swope Park Rangers)
2017 leaders: Jose Angulo (15 goals, 8 assists), Cody Laurendi (62 saves)
Angulo’s arrival sparked the attack to life, but Energy FC really found its form in the second half of the season as it went 9-3-4 over its final 16 games to earn a return to the playoffs after having struggled out of the gate. Two key late-season injuries couldn’t even derail the side when both goalkeeper Cody Laurendi and defender Coady Andrews went down against Reno, with backup goalkeeper Carl Cochran Jr. ending up a hero in the side’s penalty shootout victory against San Antonio FC in the Western Conference Semifinals, and conceding only four goals in seven games across the end of the regular season and the playoffs.
Energy FC’s slow start to the season saw the side lose the Black Gold Derby for the first time to its in-state rival Tulsa Roughnecks FC, and this offseason the club will have work to do to ensure its strong end to 2017 continues in the new year. Finding a good replacement for departed Head Coach Jimmy Nielsen will be the first priority for the club as it enters a new era.
Offseason addition Miguel Gonzalez couldn’t have announced his arrival in OKC more spectacularly than with his bicycle-kick finish against Sacramento Republic FC in the USL Game of the Week on ESPN3, which earned top spot on ESPN’s SportsCenter Top 10 that night.
Cody Laurendi produced numerous top-quality saves throughout the season, but he reflex denial of Tulsa Roughnecks FC’s Ian Svantesson at Taft Stadium was arguably the best in a hard-fought Black Gold Derby.