Energy hosts Vancouver as OKC looks to make the playoffs
If the Oklahoma City Energy's season ended today, the club would miss the United Soccer League playoffs by one point.
But with five of the Energy's final seven games at home, a place where they have played much better than on the road, Oklahoma City likes its playoff chances.
The homestretch begins Sunday night when the Energy host the Vancouver Whitecaps at 5 p.m. at Taft Stadium.
"We have been very good at home," Energy coach Jimmy Nielsen said. "We always put ourselves in a situation where we get a chance to win the game. I expect nothing less on Sunday. We have to bring the A game."
The Energy is 7-2-2 at home this season and have earned points in nine of their last 10 matches in Oklahoma City. Every club plays better at home, but the Energy seem to really enjoy their home field advantage.
"If you look at everyone's record, all teams are struggling a little bit on the road," Nielsen said. "For some reason, it feels really good out (at Taft Stadium). We have great support out there. The guys are comfortable there. The results have been amazing the three years we have been at Taft."
This is the Energy's second and final meeting with Vancouver this season. The two clubs played to a 2-2 draw on June 24 in Vancouver.
Nielsen said it is do-or-die time for the Energy.
"I said it three or four games ago, we've got to treat every game that is left in the season like a club final, a playoff game," he said. "You win, you're in. You lose, you're out. "We lost last weekend and we are one spot out of the playoffs. It's extremely close like usual in the Western Conference. Every single game is important. It's really important we are bringing our best on Sundays."
The Energy are currently one point behind the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.
"Last week we struggled (in a 2-0 loss to the Swope Park Rangers)," Nielsen said. "We struggled offensively. We struggled defensively. It was a very poor game. I expect a hungry team getting on the field Sunday. They are going to battle from the first to the last second."
Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 vs. Energy FC
Where: Taft Stadium
When: 5 p.m., Sunday
Promotions: Sunday is Military and First Responder Appreciation Night with a special discount available for all first responders, active duty military personnel or veterans. Kids 12 and younger eat free. Fans 21 or older can buy $2 Bud Light and Corona Light during the match.