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Energy FC players faced with tough decision amid return

Energy FC's Kyle Hyland (3) defends against a Sporting KC II players during a scrimmage July 3. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman]
Energy FC's Kyle Hyland (3) defends against a Sporting KC II players during a scrimmage July 3. [Chris Landsberger/The Oklahoman]

Tough decisions have been made by athletes across the country on whether or not they should continue competing through the coronavirus pandemic, and Energy FC is no exception.

Major League Baseball has seen 11 players opt out of the 2020 season due to concerns about the virus, including stars such as David Price and Ryan Zimmerman.

A majority of players choosing not to play the 2020 season cite concerns for their family’s health. San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey has newly adopted twin girls and Colorado Rockies outfielder Ian Demond has four young children and an expecting wife. Both are choosing not to participate in the upcoming 60-game season.

After a 128-day break, Oklahoma City will host FC Tulsa at Taft Stadium on Monday (7 p.m., ESPN2) as the USL Championship returns. The same dilemmas MLB players faced now had to be examined by Energy players C.J. Cochran and Kyle Hyland, both of which have young children of their own.

“It was definitely something we had to think about,” said Hyland, who is the club’s longest tenured player and has an 11-month-old daughter. “At the moment we feel comfortable with how everything is being handled. On a personal level we’ll be as safe as possible. We’re still taking every precaution at home and if we go anywhere, we’ll be practicing any good habits that we can.”

The Greens have enforced several safety regulations throughout their hiatus from match play, which halted in early March.

Fans will be required to undergo a temperature check upon arrival, and masks are strongly encouraged to be worn in Taft Stadium.

For Hyland and Cochran, the safety measures the club has taken and will continue to take were enough to play on.

A fiery, inter-squad scrimmage on Tuesday revealed that Oklahoma City is more than ready to get back into action, and Cochran will now have even more to play for in his next match.

The OKC goalkeeper has a 2-month-old daughter at home. For him, his family is now the driving force behind his play.

“You take it case by case,” Cochran said after Tuesday's scrimmage. “I look at the precautions we’re taking here and I’m social distancing outside of this as much as I can. When I do that, I have no problem showing up every day and playing. It adds a bit of grit, maybe a little bit of a chip. Because now it’s not just me, it’s not just my wife, now I’m playing for my family.”

Energy coach John Pascarella said his players determination to play was a testament to their trust in the club.

“It shows their faith in us,” Pascarella said. “From the very beginning we’ve accentuated trying to mitigate risk for them… We’ve slowly taken the time to do the right things and I think that’s built some confidence into the players in terms of the way we’re handling it.”

Derek Parker

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