By Chuck Reherman
COLORADO SPRING – The Oklahoma City Energy returned to the scene where the season and their rough start began and although it was better news for the Greens this time, but still not what the Oklahoma City team wanted to come away with.
The Energy battled to a 0-0 draw with the Colorado Switchbacks Saturday night on a cold, rainy night in Colorado Springs.
Oklahoma City had lost to the Switchbacks in the season opener, 21, back on March 7, but this time the Greens defense stood firm and did not give up a goal. The Energy is now 1-5-4 with seven points and in fourth place in Group. Colorado Springs is 1-4-4 with seven points and third place in Group C.
“I thought it was closed to plan in terms of how we defended,” Energy coach John Pascarella said. “Our shape, where our line of confrontation was and the patience we showed when we didn’t have the ball. In a place like this and against a team like they are you have to have the kind of discipline you have to have or you will be chasing most of the match and the altitude is going to eat you alive and you will struggle late in the game.
“I thought because of our discipline defensively, we gave ourselves a chance in the game,” he said. “And then we could have been a little more clinical once or twice when we had great opportunities around goal. I actually think we had the best two chances in the game, but we were not clinical enough around goal. Generally I thought defensively we did quite well and offensively we are a work in progress. Generally as a team we are also.”
The match ended on somewhat on a sour note after Zach Ellis-Hayden was sent off in the ninth minute of extra time. Things got heated between Colorado Springs forward Luke Ferreira and Ellis-Hayden, after the Ferreira refused to give up the ball in an attempt at time wasting. Ellis-Hayden then got in Ferreira’s face after being pushed, which led to Ferreira going to the ground and grabbing his face despite minimal contact being made.
“This was a big step like the other night having a draw when you are down a man” Pascarella said. “Now you have a draw away from home again late in the game losing a man, those are good habits to get into in the context of being able to defend through those crisis and types of things. It helps build some moral with the team and some comradarie when you go through those things together.
“All the guys across the back, regardless of who we are playing, are getting more comfortable with the way we are defending,” he said. “It is not just them, but the midfield group in front of them. It’s those three guys doing a good job of shutting down the opposition central midfielders. It’s our wingers, our fullbacks being able to play good defense 2v2 in the channels. It is everyone doing it together, not just the back four or the keeper, it’s all those players and that is why we got the result we got.”
The first half resulted in few chances for either side, but the Greens came closest to scoring. Nicolas Taravel towered above the defense to get on the end of Tucker Stephenson’s corner kick in the 30th minute. Unfortunately, the headed effort just skimmed off the top of the net from seven yards.
Next up for the Greens is the second Black Gold Derby of the season against FC Tulsa. The match is set for 7 p.m. Saturday.