That was how Energy FC head coach Steve Cooke described his feelings about last Saturday’s 3-0 loss to Portland Timbers 2. Not surprisingly, his thoughts echoed those of most Energy FC fans as Matchweek 4 did not go as planned.
“Obviously, in the early stages of the game we had enough quality opportunities to put the game away,” Cooke said. “And when you miss chances like that, you invite teams to cause you problems.”
Perhaps the most frustrated on Saturday night was Jaime Siaj. The Spaniard created several good chances to open his account at Taft Stadium, including a golden one in the 31st minute when he found himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Kendall McIntosh. The ball sat up nicely for Siaj and McIntosh was well off his line, but if the shot had been to either side of the keeper, Energy FC likely would have been up 1-0 and then who knows what might have happened. Just three minutes after squandering that chance, Portland took the lead and the game changed.
It’s been a rough start to the 2018 campaign, but there’s plenty to be hopeful about. The score line from Saturday isn’t a fair reflection on the match as a whole. Energy FC were by far the better team in the first 45 and on another night, might have scored three before halftime. Christian Ibeagha had two great chances from corner kicks that missed the target, and Siaj nearly leveled the score when he hit the post in the 37th minute with a great effort from the corner of the penalty area.
Speaking after the match, captain Juan Pablo Guzman had this to say: “I think we could have scored three goals in the first half. That changes the game. Everyone is disappointed. I think we’re too good to be in the position we are in. I feel a certain responsibility for the group as captain. I believe in my team and I know that all we have to do is evaluate things tomorrow and keep going. There’s no other way.”
Kyle Hyland reached out to supporters in a post-match tweet: “We are all sorry about tonight’s game. Stay with us @EnergyFC fans…we will figure this out together.”
We are all sorry about tonight’s game. Stay with us @EnergyFC fans...we will figure this out together.— Kyle Hyland (@KyleHyland31) April 8, 2018
Between JPG being visibly upset and Hyland adding to the sentiment, it’s clear that the guys want nothing more than to turn things around. And what better way to figure it out than against the high-flying Swope Park Rangers, whom the Greens play this Saturday. Currently sitting second in the Western Conference on 10 points, SPR won three of their opening four matches before being held to a 1-1 draw on Saturday night in San Antonio.
Kharlton Belmar put Rangers ahead with his league-leading fifth goal of the season before the hosts pegged one back just a few minutes later. Eric Dick, goalkeeper for the Energy FC U23s in 2017 and #13 overall pick by Sporting Kansas City in the 2018 MLS SuperDraft, made his second start of the season for Swope Park.
Despite missing another match through injury, it’s worth noting that Coach Cooke responded to a fan’s Twitter inquiry regarding Jose Angulo’s status by saying, “I never put timelines on players returning from injury, but Jose is working hard, is now back training fully with the team, and we are excited to get him back playing as soon as he feels fully fit and ready!”
I never put timelines on players returning from injury, but Jose is working hard, is now back training fully with the team, and we are excited to get him back playing as soon as he feels fully fit and ready!— Steve Cooke (@stevecookesoccr) April 4, 2018
Last season’s leading goal scorer for the Greens will be a welcome addition to a squad that has struggled to find the back of the net so far this season. Now that he’s back in training, hopefully he’s available sometime within the next couple of weeks.
Watch this space later in the week for a more in depth preview of the match against SPR.