I don’t know if goalie Evan Newton has a significant other, but he most assuredly deserved to get laid following Sunday’s dramatic win over the Colorado Springs Switchbacks.
(How’s that for a rude and brainless hot take?)
The Energy FC keeper blocked two shots during a penalty kick shootout after the teams finished regulation and overtime locked in a 2-2 tie. After making the game-winning save, OKC fans rushed the field to celebrate the playoff victory while fireworks exploded overhead and smoke buckets billowed green and blue.
The match was part of the 2015 United Soccer League’s Western Conference semifinals, and Energy FC supporters kept the northwest OKC stadium rowdy and hostile to opposing players.
The Chief and I embedded ourselves in the general admission section occupied by The Grid, Energy FC’s resident soccer fanatics. Located behind the field’s south goal, The Grid screamed, waved flags and heckled Switchbacks by name.
The section had come under fire earlier this year for the profanity that laces nearly every one of their chants, but Sunday night, the cursing flew uncensored, some of it in Spanish.
“Come on, City, score a goal, it’s really very simple. Put the ball into the net, and we’ll go fucking mental.”
That chant and many others blew at the backs of the home team, which had fallen behind 0-1 early. An extra-time goal brought a brand-new ballgame at half, which carried into overtime and then victorious penalty kicks.
Sideshows aside, in only its second year, Energy FC is overcoming that tricky catch-22 of soccer’s popularity in a market where explicitly American sports dominate.
The catch is that soccer can’t become more popular until there’s a team to root for that gets people excited. Now, much like with the Thunder’s arrival and playoff ascension, there’s something to get excited about with regard to soccer in OKC.
It was plain to see inside Taft Stadium on Sunday.
When Newton deflected his second of five Switchback penalty kicks shortly about 9 p.m., fans erupted and hopped advertisement tri-boards to rush the pitch in celebration.
Everyone loves a party.
After a first-round bye and now a victory over the Switchbacks, advancing to the USL semifinals means a chance at a championship.
Very exciting, indeed.