By NICHOLAS MURRAY – firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, March 10, 2016
Even if Danni König didn’t have the Twitter handle @KingKonig9, that nickname would almost certainly have been bestowed upon the OKC Energy FC forward after his first season for the club by its fans.
The Danish striker led a remarkable season at Taft Stadium, with 21 goals not only putting him second in the league’s Golden Boot race, but also helping power Energy FC to a second-place finish in the USL’s Western Conference.
“When you go to another country or another part of the world and score 20-plus goals, that’s got to be a good season,” König said this preseason. “It’s been very good, and I enjoy being part of OKC Energy FC, that’s why I’m back.”
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After a solid nine-year career in his homeland, König quickly adapted to the American style of play, although early on it did provide a bit of a shock to the system.
“It’s way different,” he said. “When I came over, the first practice match I played I was quite in shock how we played the game, but I think it fits my style very well as a player. I’m very happy, and I’m looking to play here the rest of my career.”
That fit was evident in König’s second game for OKC, when he scored both goals – including a stoppage-time winner – in Energy FC’s victory against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC. Those two teams would provide more dramatics when the playoffs arrived, as Energy FC advanced to the Western Conference Final in a penalty shootout at Taft Stadium.
With Energy FC and the Switchbacks set to meet on the opening weekend of the 2016 season, König is excited for the burgeoning rivalry between the teams to resume.
“When I think back about that [playoff] game, it was one of the greatest experiences I’ve had,” he said. “The way it was, the crowd, the penalty shootout, I’m looking forward to that. It’s going to be an exciting match. They’ve kept almost all of their players as we did, so it’s going to be exciting. I can’t wait for the start of the [season].”
After a sellout crowd welcomed Energy FC to its first home preseason game of the year against FC Dallas, a similar crowd should be expected for the playoff rematch. Led by The Grid, Energy FC’s support has grown rapidly across the city as the club enters its third season, and has been a massive boost for the players game-in and game-out.
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“It’s incredible to see how just from last year how the city and Energy FC has grown,” König said. “It’s getting more and more support, which we’re feeling, and we have in my opinion some of the best fans in the USL, so it’s very good.”
With players like König, Sebastian Dalgaard, Michael Thomas and Gareth Evans leading the group returning to Taft Stadium this season, there ought to be a lot more to celebrate. As close as Head Coach Jimmy Nielsen’s side came to reaching the USL Championship a year ago, the core group from a year ago is ready to launch another challenge to its rivals in the Western Conference.“I’m just happy that we could keep the base of our team,” König said. “We kept the important players from the team, and the new players are doing a good job, so it’s going to be exciting. I’m happy with where the team’s at right now.”