By Chuck Reherman
OKLAHOMA CITY – For the second straight week, a slow start turned into a rough finish for the Oklahoma City Energy.
San Antonio scored in the 31st minute and added two second half goals to hand the Greens a 3-0 loss Saturday night at Taft Stadium.
It was the second straight 3-0 loss for the Energy, who slipped to 1-2-3 and dropped to fourth place in the Group D standings.
The Energy, with five points, will be looking to make up some ground on Saturday when the host the Rio Grande Valley Toros for the second time in a month.
San Antonio, the Group D leader at 4-1-0 with 13 points, kept the Greens off balance in the first half and turned back scoring chances.
“I don’t like the result obviously,” Energy head coach John Pascarella said. “There were positives we can take from it as there were last week. The negative is that is two weeks in a row that we have given up three goals.
“The difference is the types of goals we gave up tonight were different than last week,” he said. “We will have to go back and look at it again, but I think there were things that were better in the game, better than last week.
“We can talk about the defending and you can’t just blame just the back four. When you look at the first goal it is not just an issue with the back four. If you look at the second goal, we have eight guys dropping back and they have seven and we just don’t get the job done. Both of those situations we defended, it is just a matter of us learning from it, moving on and becoming more consistent with our game. I felt part of our defending was more consistent this week, there were things we worked on this week, but we have to moving on that.”
Christian Parano gave San Antonio the lead in the 31st minute.
Christian Ibeagha’s attempted clearance fell right to Parano near the top of the box, and the Argentine’s first-time shot deflected back off Ibeagha to wrong foot CJ Cochran and into the back of the net.
The Greens nearly leveled in the fourth minute of first-half stoppage time, as Frank Lopez’s effort just inside the top of the penalty area took a couple of deflections and nearly beat San Antonio goalkeeper Dayne St. Clair, but the goalkeeper was able to scramble back across his goal to make a fingertip save.
San Antonio doubled the lead in the 70th minute via a set piece. Parano’s swinging free kick was met by Callum Montgomery and headed past Cochran.
Ignacio Bailone sealed the game in the 77th minute with a curling, left-footed effort in the net.
“We have lost a few at home and we have to gain those back on the road,” Pascarella said. “If you look at the table, an Antonio is the front runner and you have a few teams battling for that second spot and that is what we are doing. That is the challenge that is ahead of us and we don’t have to look much beyond that. And, there is plenty of time left for that. Plenty of matches left and points for the teams that are two, three and four right now.
“We need to be a little more aggressive in our mentality,” Pascarella said. “I do mean that with the ball, but I also mean that especially defensively and try to defend up a little bit higher. We have to make sure they want to be brace and step up and defend. I think we did some of that tonight.”