In the month since the 3-1 loss to the Monarchs on July 5th at Rio Tinto, the Jimmy Nielson coached Energy have compiled a 2-1-2 record which has moved them up into contention for a playoff spot. Both victories came on the home grass of Taft Stadium including the 1-0 shutout of the high scoring Reno 1868 FC squad on last Wednesday evening. With a 6-2-1 record at home this season, the Energy have been a much better team at Taft Stadium
The Energy have scored 25 goals which places them tied for 9th in the 15 team Western Conference. Jose Angulo, on loan from St Louis FC in the Eastern Conference has scored three for the Energy to go with his three for St Louis. Andy Craven has added five goals and Miguel Gonzalez and Hugh Alexander Dixon had four apiece. Dixon scored the only Energy goal in the Rio Tinto match earlier this year.
Although the Energy have allowed 30 goals, and have a -5 goal differential, only 9 of those goals have been scored by opponents at Taft Stadium and 6 of those in only two games. Cody Laurendi has two clean sheets at home and a 58.6 save percentage in goal. The Energy have recently gone to a 3 man back line of Michael Daly, Coady Andrews and Sam Fink that has allowed them to play an additional midfielder.
The OKC midfield currently consists of a flat line of 4 rotating midfielders who play immediately above the back three and then two attacking midfielders, typically Miguel Gonzalez and Hugh Alexander Dixon, who support Angulo, the single striker up top.
The Monarchs have struggle to find the goal over the past several matches while on the road in Texas and then at home against Tulsa on Monday. It will be up to Chandler Hoffman and Sebastian Velasquez to provide some scoring spark on the road. However the real battle will be in the midfield and Nick Besler and Charley Adams will be key in getting the ball past a pack OKC midfield.
It will also be important for the back six which has seen plenty of personnel changes in recent matches to further solidify and find comfort with each other. Reagan Dunk and Justin Schmidt will need to continue to grow in experience with their Monarch teammates.
This will be the fifth meeting between the Monarchs and OKC Energy FC. The Monarchs 2-2-0 record overall against the Energy with a goal differential of +1, but have lost both previous matches in Oklahoma City and have a -3 goal differential.
What to watch for
The key area to watch early in this match is the midfield. With their recent lineup changes the Energy seek to dominate the midfield and stop attacks there. If the Monarchs can get good penetration down the wings on the narrow pitch at Taft Stadium and prove effective with their passing, they should be able to dominate the three man back line. However, Reno 1868 was unable to do that earlier this week.
Watch both fullbacks, whether Lachowecki, Curinga, Dunk or others to see how well they can move to support the Monarchs attack and still support on defense.
Real Monarchs: (4-2-3-1) Sparrow; Curinga, Moberg, Schmidt, Lachowecki; Besler, Adams; Minter, Velasquez, Haber; Hoffman
OKC Energy FC: (4-4-2): Laurendi; Fink, Daly, Andrews; Hyland, Wallace, Bami, Dixon; Gonzalez, Dixon; Angulo
When: Saturday, August 5, 6:30 pm MDT
Where: Taft Stadium — Oklahoma City, OK
Weather: 91 degrees, Partly Cloudy