Kyle Hyland has become an OKC veteran
Energy FC defender Kyle Hyland didn’t know what to expect when he first arrived in Oklahoma City before the 2016 United Soccer League season, but he's taken roots.
In a league where players come and go with regularity, Hyland will make his 100th appearance for Energy FC on Saturday, the first player in franchise history to reach the century mark.
“It’s pretty cool not only for me but the club as well,” Hyland said. “It’s not easy to be in the coach’s plans for the past 3 1/2 years, always being available, making sure I am fit to play, being consistent as a player.
“It shows a lot that they put their faith in me year in and year out, keep me on the team and keep playing me consistently. It shows a lot of belief by the club in me.”
Hyland and goalkeeper Cody Laurendi are the only two players still with Energy FC from the 2016 season. Laurendi, however, will only be playing his 79th game in an Oklahoma City uniform on Saturday due to injuries.
The 28-year-old Hyland admitted he did not have high hopes when he and his wife, Amber, moved to Oklahoma City from Indianapolis, where he had been playing for the Indy Eleven of the North American Soccer League. Hyland didn’t know much about Oklahoma City or Energy FC back then, but his wife encouraged him to give both a chance.
“She pushed me into coming here and giving something a shot,” he said. “Once we got here, we fell love with the city, the club and the people. The people more than anything, in all seriousness. Everybody was so welcoming and accommodating. It’s an easy place to live.”
Hyland has watched the interest in the club and soccer grow in the Oklahoma City community during his four seasons with Energy FC.
“When I first came, when I would talk about the Energy not everyone would know immediately what I was talking about,” he said. “Now when I say it, or when I am around kids, everybody knows what the Energy is. It’s really cool to see kids all over the city wearing the Energy uniform.
“We have kind of seen the growth of the club. If we continue on this path and they get that stadium built (downtown), you are going to see some giant strides in this organization. I think you are going to see a huge success.”
Energy FC hosts Phoenix Rising (8-2-5) on Saturday night at Taft Stadium, a team has won six straight and climbed into first place in the Western Conference standings. Oklahoma City (5-4-6) is seventh in the Western Conference and unbeaten in its last six league matches with five draws.
“Our roster is a little thin right now with people away for national team duty,” Hyland said. “Draws are definitely frustrating, but at the same time you have got to take it as a positive. Obviously, you get an extra point on the table and you keep climbing.”
A draw also means the opponent didn’t gain three points in the standings for a win, he said.
“You start to see draws meaning a lot toward the end of the season in the table,” he said.
Considering the quality of the opponents and the number of mid-week games during the past month, Hyland views the recent stretch of 1-0-5 as successful.
“Going through that schedule was not an easy thing, so coming out still unbeaten in six is pretty impressive, in my opinion,” he said.
ENERGY FC VS. PHOENIX RISING
When: 8 p.m., Saturday
Where: Taft Stadium
Promotion: Military Appreciation Night. Anyone with a military ID will receive 50 percent off ticket price and 25 percent off merchandise.
TV: Match can be streamed live on ESPN+