The 2018 season comes to an end Saturday night, as Energy FC finish on the road against Saint Louis FC. While there will be no postseason play for the Greens this year, STL are still in contention, and OKC has the chance to play the spoiler while ending the campaign on a positive note.
Saint Louis FC are currently 7th in the Western Conference – just two points ahead of Swope Park Rangers and three ahead of San Antonio FC. While STLFC aren’t mathematically in, a point would clinch a spot. They’ll be looking for all three points, though, as SPR and SAFC have very winnable fixtures at home to Rio Grande Valley FC and LA Galaxy II, respectively.
The last time the sides met was way back on April 21 at Taft Stadium. Christian Volesky, now with Energy FC, was the only scorer on the night as STL left OKC with the victory. Since then, St. Louis has put together a very impressive campaign on the back of a rock-solid defense that’s only allowed 38 goals this season – tied for fourth-best in the league. It’s no surprise that the signing of former Energy FC player Sam Fink has helped stabilize the backline and made them one of the most difficult in the league to break down.
While they aren’t exactly lighting in up on the attacking end, another former Green is having a great year for STL. Kyle Greig has found the back of the net 13 times in 2018. That’s eight more than Wal Fall and Joey Calistri, who are tied for a distant second.
Energy FC are looking to continue the good run of form that saw them remain in contention for the playoffs until just two weeks ago. It’s been quite the turnaround from a team that looked to have no chance during that difficult start. Since the 1-8 beginning, the Greens have gone 11-7-6 and the squad has improved drastically with big, impactful signings like Volesky, Drew Beckie, Atiba Harris, Adam Jahn, Marco Bustos and Deshorn Brown. In addition to ending the season with a victory, the Greens will be looking to do something they haven’t done yet – record a win against Saint Louis FC. In seven meetings, STL has won two and drawn five.
When asked about the mindset of the squad, Head Coach Steve Cooke said, “We’re disappointed not to be in the playoffs. That goes without saying. The reality is, in the last two-thirds of the season, this team has been very high-performing. We know that we shot ourselves in the foot in the first nine games, but the reality is that since that point, we’ve equipped ourselves really well. The players have performed to a very high level. The group of players that are going onto the field at the moment are hungry, fit, strong – they’re a good quality group. I think that if that group comes together next season, there’s no doubt we’ll be in the playoffs, and hopefully we’ll be above that line very, very early on challenging for a championship.”
The Greens will be without a trio of players at the weekend. Cody Laurendi (Puerto Rico) and Harris (St. Kitts & Nevis) will be on national team duty in the CONCACAF Nations League. Callum Ross earned his eighth yellow card of the season against SLC and will serve a one-match suspension.
Despite the absences, expect a very strong squad to go out and look to end 2018 on a high on Saturday night. That one kicks off at 7:30 p.m. from Toyota Stadium, and as always, you can watch live on espn+.