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Q&A with Matt Van Oekel

By Tyler Aljoe, 02/27/18, 8:45AM CST


After spending last season with Real Salt Lake of MLS, Matt Van Oekel joined Energy FC for the 2018 campaign.  Van Oekel will certainly have an immediate impact for the club as the 2018 season is soon set to begin.  The 6-4 goalkeeper spent the majority of his career in the second division, both at Minnesota United and FC Edmonton.

I sat down briefly on the team’s media day to talk about his decision to join the Energy FC, outlook on the upcoming season, and a “must have” snack moments before taking the pitch:

First and foremost, welcome to Oklahoma City and taking time today to chat.  Last season you had an opportunity to play at Real Salt Lake [MLS], what interested you most about moving to OKC and joining the Energy FC?”

“When I spoke to Steve Cooke on the phone for the first time he really sold me on the club, front office and the overall organization.  He first reached out to me in the offseason and really made me feel wanted and that was enough for me choose Oklahoma City.”

You brought your family with you to Oklahoma, how was the move and transition so far living here?

“Yes, we are still getting used to Oklahoma, trying to find different activities to do with the family but we very excited for this new opportunity.”

When you are not playing soccer whether it is matches, training, or other team-related activities, what do you enjoy doing most in your free time?

“I enjoy spending time with my family.  We enjoy going to the zoo, something we will look forward to when Spring rolls around in a couple weeks.  We also like the outdoor activities such as hiking or fishing.”

What role do you feel you play this season for the club?

“My role is simple, it’s keeping the ball out of the back of the net.   Also, being a leader on and off the field for a lot of the younger players.  Being the oldest guy here, hopefully I can steer them in the right direction and make sure we have a successful season.”

Did you have a favorite childhood club?

“My favorite club growing up was Ajax in Holland.  I always loved watching the legend Edwin van der Sar in goal.”

Throughout your 10 years of playing professionally, what is your biggest accomplishment thus far?

“Getting to the MLS would have to be the biggest accomplishment.  My journey has been different than a lot of the other players.  I was in the second division for nine years, growing and trying to be the best I can be but now it is all about winning trophies and that is what I want to do here in Oklahoma City.”

Alexis Vizarelis, the new goalkeeper coach, also in his first season with the club, what are your initial thoughts of him?

“Alexis is a funny guy, we talk all the time about what each other like to do, how we like to train, and the goalkeeper mindset.  It has been a great relationship so far and I look forward to working with him this season.”

Finally, as the season nears is there any specific routine you do either before the match or close to match day?

“We [my wife and I] have been doing a lot of vegan Friday’s, cleansing the body, making it nice and right before the season gets going but one snack I usually sneak in before going out is a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.”

Matt and the rest of the team are in Tucson, AZ for the remainder of preseason camp.  Final preparations include preseason friendlies against Toronto FC II, Grand Canyon University, Sporting AZ FC, and Phoenix Rising FC.

Energy FC kicksoff the 2018 season at Taft Stadium on March 17. Tickets for the home opener are now available.  Call 235-KICK (5425) to get yours today!