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Taft Provides Happy Homecoming for OKC

By NICHOLAS MURRAY -, 05/21/17, 9:07AM EDT


Dixon’s goal caps strong display against Orange County in front of 6,059 fans

Photo courtesy Steven Christy / OKC Energy FC

OKLAHOMA CITY – As is his habit on game day, OKC Energy FC Head Coach Jimmy Nielsen was at Taft Stadium for his side’s first game for a month at about 2 p.m. CT on Saturday afternoon.

“On game days, I’m here five hours before kickoff,” said Nielsen. “I love being here.”

Just over seven hours later, Nielsen walked back to the locker room a happy man after his side had secured its second win of the season after a 1-0 victory against Orange County SC in front of 6,059 fans that was more dominant than the final score might have indicated.

If not for a standout performance by Orange County goalkeeper Charlie Lyon – whose eight-save outing was highlighted by an excellent penalty save on Kyle Hyland in the 27th minute – then Energy FC’s margin of victory could have been much wider against an Orange County side that was reduced to 10 men after Oscar Sorto was sent off after conceding the penalty kick.

“We had the chances and [Lyon] made some good saves,” said Energy FC forward Miguel Gonzalez. “The penalty kick he made a good save, one of Daniel [Gonzalez]’s shots was right in front of him and he stopped that one too.”

Photo courtesy Steven Christy / OKC Energy FC

In the end, though, Alex Dixon’s goal in the 35th minute proved enough to give the hosts a deserved victory. Miguel Gonzalez played a role in the finish, as he did in much of Energy FC’s attacking forays, as he played Dixon into the right side of the penalty area. Dixon – who scored twice in Energy FC’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup victory on Wednesday night – struck his low finish just inside the left post, a finish that even Lyon couldn’t deny.

“I definitely have a lot of confidence going,” said Dixon. “The team is playing well right now and we just want to keep that momentum going.”

For Energy FC, the win will hopefully provide a turning point for the club’s season. Saturday night’s game began a run of four games out of five at Taft Stadium, and with the likes of Phoenix Rising FC and San Antonio FC among the upcoming visitors the side knows it needs to earn a better return than it did against Orange County moving forward from its stellar attacking play.

For Nielsen, though, earning the victory in front of the club’s home fans was key as OKC looks to pull its way up the Western Conference standings.

“I think everyone did extremely well today,” said Nielsen. “We defended as a team, we attacked as a team, we were creative.

“What we needed tonight was a win. We got the three points we came for and hopefully we can build on this now. We’ve got a big game on Wednesday against Portland. Hopefully we can carry on some confidence and put ourselves in a position where we can not only get the win, but close the games a little bit better.”

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