USLSoccer.com Staff Report
Wednesday, February 3, 2016
OKLAHOMA CITY – OKC Energy FC kicked off training camp this week looking to build on a strong season that saw the club reach the Western Conference Final of the 2015 USL Playoffs.
One of the club’s mainstays has been captain Michael Thomas, who spoke with The Oklahoman’s Chris Brannick for an online Q&A to assess the club’s position as it begins its third season. With a strong core returning from last season, and some interesting new additions to the squad, Thomas is optimistic the side can maintain its positive momentum from a season ago.
“I feel as well as most of the guys; I feel really comfortable,” Thomas told Brannick. “We've made a name for ourselves not only throughout the city but throughout the league. We set the standards high, expectations high with how well we did last year. So it's good. I think we're coming in with a little more pressure in a way but in a good way, too. We have guys who can handle that. We're ready to get going. It feels comfortable coming in; all the guys are feeling really comfortable.”
For a second consecutive year, Energy FC will visit IMG Academy in Florida for part of the club’s preseason, which will see the side face among other clubs Major League Soccer’s New York City FC. Thomas said getting that opportunity a year ago provided an important yardstick for where the team stood entering the new season.
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“To be thrown into that, to be able to play teams like Toronto, Columbus Crew, FC Dallas, New York City FC, suddenly the standard is just a much higher level,” Thomas said. “And we see that and we want to be there. So if we can go there and put in a good game or at least play well against them, it gives us confidence going into the season against other USL teams. We will know where we stand going into the season.”
With 2015 Most Valuable Player finalist Danni König, key midfielders Sebastian Dalgaard, Casey Townsend and Gareth Evans and defender Cyprian Hedrick among those returning as well, Thomas believes Energy FC is prepared for another strong season at Taft Stadium.“The season is long, but we feel really comfortable with the group that we have coming back,” Thomas said. “We know that the guys coming in are going to be able to contribute and play their part as well, whether they're starting or on the bench. Everybody is going to play their role. So far everything has gone well. We just need to keep it going.”