OKC Energy FC blitzed visiting Moreno Valley FC, 5-1, on Wednesday night to advance to the third round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.
OKC, which hosted the game at the University of Oklahoma’s John Crain Field, scored four goals in about six minutes to coast to a victory over its visitors from California.
Energy FC dominated play in the first home USOC match in team history, but had to recover from giving up an early goal to Moreno Valley FC.
The United Premier Soccer League (UPSL) side arrived about 30 minutes before Wednesday night’s game was schedule to start. Edgar Gonzalez put the visitors ahead in the 8th minute, pouncing on a loose ball near the top of the Energy FC box and burying his shot in the opposite corner of goalkeeper C.J. Cochran’s net.
Cochran was rarely troubled for the rest of the evening.
Energy FC equalized 10 minutes later when winger Alex Dixon squeezed a shot past Moreno Valley goalkeeper Jose Miranda’s near post after a give-and-go with Luis Martinez.
The USL side continued to threaten Moreno Valley’s goal for the remainder of the first half with an impressive mix of long and short passes. Energy FC was unable to convert any of the chances it created, as the half ended with Martinez’s free kick off clanging off the crossbar, leaving the teams knotted at 1.
OKC continued pressing in the second half, but were unable to break through until Moreno Valley midfielder Edgar Gonzalez was shown a red card in the 64th minute. Gonzalez fouled Energy FC defender Richard Dixon while the two players chased a ball near midfield. Then he stomped on the OKC player after he fell to the ground.
The incident occurred between the benches, in clear sight of the assistant referee and fourth official on the sideline. Players from both teams gathered there, but Energy FC coach Jimmy Nielsen credited his players for staying calm in a “heated moment.”
“In those situations, you have nothing to win,” Nielsen said.
Moreno Valley’s Cesar Rivera received a yellow card and an assistant coach appeared to be ejected before play resumed.
Energy FC wasted no time in securing a win over the short-handed visitors, breaking the tie with two goals in about 30 seconds.
Substitute Wojciech Wojchik broke the tie in the 68th minute, nodding home a pass from Richard Dixon.
Alex Dixon scored shortly after the ensuing Moreno Valley kickoff, intercepting an errant back pass and slotting it past a helpless Miranda.
OKC scored again in the 73rd minute, when Andy Craven tapped in a cross from Daniel Jackson.
Miguel Gonzalez added Energy FC’s final goal about a minute later, scoring off a rebound after Miranda saved a Cravens shot.
Moreno Valley finished the game with only nine players after an 83rd minute red card to Javier Castro Gonzalez.
The forward had picked up a yellow card about three minutes earlier for angrily kicking the ball out of bounds after a teammate was whistled for a foul. He earned his second yellow moments later when he made contact with Miguel Gonzalez’s face while lobbying the referee for a foul. It was more of a tap than a punch, but it was enough to get him ejected from the game.
Referee Jose Lara whistled an end to the one-sided game without any stoppage time.
Energy FC advances to face fellow USL side Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC on May 31 in the third round of the USOC. The winner will hit the road to take on the Colorado Rapids in Round 4.
Nielsen said he hopes Wednesday’s form carries over into USL play for Energy FC, which has struggled to score so far this season.
Two-goal scorer Alex Dixon said Energy FC had been building toward Wednesday’s performance.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Dixon said. “It was a good performance by the team.”