By MARC SERBER
Some four months after being awarded a franchise, the owners of the new USL Pro Oklahoma City team announced the club’s name, colors, and venue for the 2014 season at a press conference on Thursday afternoon. The team will be known as OKC Energy FC, emphasizing Oklahoma City’s connections with the energy industry.
“There is an obvious tie to the oil, natural gas and renewable resource sector in our city,” said Prodigal LLC CEO Bob Funk Jr., “but it also speaks to the renaissance underway in Oklahoma City.”
The club’s colors will be green (the state’s official color) and blue to represent the horizon line along the plains, with the team’s home and away jerseys set to match that color set.
The Energy’s crest contains the state flag, an exploding star, and an abstract soccer ball—all to symbolize the club’s origins and the energy the club hopes will propel it up the table in its first year of existence.
Prodigal LLC also announced that the OKC Energy will play its home games at Pribil Stadium on the campus of Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School, although there have been rumblings that the club may eventually build a soccer-specific stadium.
Here are some more notes from around the NASL/USL PRO this week:
AYOZE EXTENDS TIME WITH COSMOS
After a strong half-season with the New York Cosmos, Spanish left back Ayoze has decided to extend his stay in the United States.
On the eve of the Cosmos’ friendly match against Villarreal Wednesday, the Cosmos announced that Ayoze had signed a contract extension, though terms of the deal were not disclosed per league and club policy.
“Ayoze has been a key player for us all season long,” head coach Giovanni Savarese said in a statement. “He’s adjusted quickly to playing in the U.S. and his ability to play left back and midfield gives us great versatility. I’m delighted that we have been able to sign him to a new deal.”
Following a surprising move to the Cosmos from Sporting Gijon last spring, Ayoze settled in well in New York and helped the Cosmos win the NASL Soccer Bowl title in their first year back as a professional franchise. The 27-year-old made 13 appearances with 12 starts for the Cosmos in the 2013 season.
COSMOS FALL TO VILLARREAL IN SENNA TRIBUTE MATCH
The final score may not have gone the way the Cosmos had hoped, but it was a win-win for everyone involved.
In a testimonial match for Villarreal legend and current Cosmos midfielder Marcos Senna at El Madrigal stadium in Villarreal, the home side took down the Cosmos, 3-0, just four days after the NASL side had taken home the Soccer Bowl title. Senna played the first half for Villarreal and the second half for the Cosmos.
A lively crowd came out to welcome Senna back after he spent 11 years with the club, making 363 appearances for the side and playing in La Liga, UEFA Champions League, and then guiding the club back to the first division after a short stay in the second tier in Spain.
MINNESOTA UNITED TO RETAIN ITS TOP SCORER
The NASL’s leading goalscorer over the last three seasons isn’t ready to leave Minnesota.
On Wednesday, Minnesota United FC announced that forward Pablo Campos would be returning with the team next season after an inaugural season where he scored 13 times in 17 matches to go with five assists. The Brazilian native’s goal total was second best in the league.
“We are extremely excited to have Pablo back on the roster as we build towards 2015,” said head coach Manny Lagos in a statement on the club’s website. “There is no doubt he has made a big impact on the field and is an exciting player for the club and fans. He is very committed to this club winning a championship while building on our relationships in the local community.”
The 30-year-old Rio de Janeiro native leads the NASL with 45 goals over the last three seasons. He is also the only player to score more than 10 goals in each of those campaigns. Campos played with the Carolina Railhawks, San Antonio Scorpions (where he won the Golden Ball and Golden Boot), and Minnesota United over that three-year span.
Prior to playing in the NASL, Campos spent time with the San Jose Earthquakes before winning the 2009 MLS Cup with Real Salt Lake.
OTTAWA FURY ADDS YOUNG BUT EXPERIENCED BRAZILIAN
The expansion Ottawa Fury haven’t played a game yet, but they’ve managed to convince a player with European experience to come join the club.
Head coach Marc Dos Santos announced the signing of Brazilian midfielder Oliver Minatel to a one-year deal, which is now awaiting an international transfer clearance.
Though he joined from Brazilian second division side Velo Clube, Minatel spent the previous three seasons with Portuguese side CD Nacional. Two of those campaigns came in Portugal’s first division.
Although only 21, Minatel has an abundance of experience at the top level. At just 18, he became the youngest Nacional’s player to feature in an international match, starting a UEFA Europa League qualifier against Icelandic opponents FH Hafnarfjordur.
Minatel also spent time in Holland with PSV Eindhoven’s famed youth academy, playing for their U-19 squad before making the leap to Portugal.
What do you think of these reports? Do you like the name Energy FC? Do you see soccer succeeding in Oklahoma City? Do you see Ayoze staying with the Cosmos for the long term?
Share your thoughts below.