Matchweek 14 features two matches in four days for an Energy FC side coming off a painful defeat against Seattle Sounders FC 2.
First up is a stop in Portland to take on the second best team in the west, Portland Timbers 2 (8-4-2) Wednesday night at Providence Park. Since defeating the Greens at Taft Stadium on April 7, T2 have gone on to win six of their last nine matches.
While the scoreline of that defeat in April appeared one-sided, it was also a little flattering for the Timbers. OKC had a number of great chances, particularly in the first half, which could have resulted in a much different outcome.
On Saturday, OKC comes back home to take on Rio Grande Valley FC (1-5-7). The Toros are currently 15th in the Western Conference and three points ahead of Energy FC. This will be the first meeting between OKC and RGV in 2018.
In week 13, OKC’s next two opponents met at H-E-B Park, as Portland defeated RGV by a score of 0-1. Josh Phillips scored the lone goal in the 14th minute, and T2 were able to hold on for the remainder of the match. With the win, Portland became the first visiting team to pick up three points at RGV in 2018.
After going ahead early, Portland sat back and absorbed pressure for much of the match with RGV outshooting the visitors 17-7. The T2 defense proved stingy, however, allowing just two shots on target and blocking eight on their way to a USL best eighth clean sheet in 2018.
Despite seemingly dominating the game on paper, the Toros were ultimately unable to break down Portland, and RGV’s struggles over the past month and a half continued. Rio Grande Valley FC haven’t won a match since beating Orange County SC on April 25, 2-0. Since that victory, they’ve only managed to score three times and have been held scoreless in five of the last seven matches. Needless to say, OKC’s next two opponents are having very different seasons.
Portland Head Coach Cameron Knowles lined up the Timbers in a 4-2-3-1 formation against RGV: Alex Mangels; James Mulligan, Josh Phillips, Adrian Diz Pe, Nathan Smith; Renzo Zambrano, Andre Lewis; Marvin Loria, Foster Langsdorf (Max Ornstil, 89’), Jack Barmby (Jeremy Ebobisse, 62’); Darixon Vuelto (Augustine Williams, 70’).
T2 have a number of weapons for the Greens to keep an eye on. Langsdorf leads the team with five goals, but Williams and Victor Arboleda are right behind him with four. A variety of scorers is one of the reasons why they are third in the league in goals with 24.
RGV Head Coach Gerson Echeverry opted for the same formation as Portland on Saturday: Nicolas Corti; Manny Padilla, Conor Donovan, Omar Ontiveros, Kyle Adams; Todd Wharton, Nicolas Perea; John Montano (Bryce Marion, 37’), Matias Zaldivar, Jesus Enriquez (Guillermo Delgado, 80’); Aldo Quintanilla.
The one to watch out for on Saturday will be the striker Quintanilla, who leads the team with four goals and two assists. Wharton, a central midfielder, is right behind him with two goals and two assists.
For Energy FC, Coach Steve Cooke will be looking for more of the same offensively, albeit with more clinical finishing. With three matches in seven days, expect Cooke to stick with same 4-1-4-1 formation but mix up the personnel, especially in the attack. Francis Atuahene made his return to the Energy FC lineup after missing the last two months through injury, so the possibility of him featuring more this week is a prospect OKC fans should be excited about. Aside from Atuahene, Cooke will have plenty of options to try and break down the Portland defense with Miguel Gonzalez, Jose Barril, Christian Volesky, Alex Dixon, Philip Rasmussen, Kalif Alhassan and Jaime Siaj all fit and available for selection.
Wednesday’s match from Providence Park kicks off at 9:00 p.m. CT, and it will be available to watch on ESPN+. Saturday’s return home to Taft Stadium kicks off at 7:30 p.m. CT, and for those that don’t already have tickets, you can find them at energyfc.com or by calling 405-235-KICK(5425).