For more than 80 minutes, the song remained the same for OKC Energy FC, which was potentially headed toward a fourth consecutive draw overall when it faced the Swope Park Rangers on Tuesday night.
Thanks to FC Dallas loanees Coy Craft and Timo Pitter, the duo came off the bench to tally go-ahead and insurance goals in the 84th and 89th minutes, respectively, to earn a 2-0 victory at Swope Soccer Village in Kansas City, Mo.
The 23-year-old German Pitter, selected by FC Dallas in the 2016 MLS SuperDraft, also set up Craft’s winner with a cross to the edge of the six-yard area.
“We came into the game a little bit late, but it started to open up,” Craft said. “[The Rangers] were going for the game. Timo made a great pass in and it somehow squeaked through to the back post and I was making a run. It was an easy tap-in, so I was happy that he got the assist.”
The subplot for Tuesday was the absence of captain Michael Thomas, who was suspended for the match following a weekend scuffle during Sunday’s scoreless draw with San Antonio FC, in which he and San Antonio goalkeeper Josh Ford were sent off.
OKC goalkeeper Cody Laurendi wore the captain’s armband and he rose to the occasion, coming up with a season-high seven saves.
“He came up again huge tonight, another phenomenal performance,” OKC assistant coach James Ritchie said. “He’s just been an absolute rock at the back. He led the team well with Michael Thomas not being with the squad today.”
With Laurendi’s steady defense and some energy off of the bench, it provided a perfect mix for OKC down the stretch to grab an important road victory in Western Conference play.
OKC extended its unbeaten streak to five (2-0-3) as the club will now look forward to back-to-back home games at Taft Stadium against Orange County Blues FC this Saturday and Tulsa Roughnecks FC on July 23.
Most importantly, the Energy moved into fifth in the West standings (6-2-7, 25 points), and with a game in hand on everyone above in the conference table, Tuesday’s road victory could ultimately prove to be one of the more vital moments of the season as OKC looks to continue its climb.
“The whole team put a lot of effort in,” Pitter said. “The guys who started worked really hard to make our opponents exhausted. We came off the bench with fresh legs and it worked out well.”