While we couldn't be more proud of our Oklahoma City Thunder, there's something major league soccer delivers that basketball can't. And the OKC Energy FC delivers.
Sporting green and blue, OKC Energy FC was founded in July 2013 by Prodigal, LLC, a sports marketing and communications firm in Oklahoma City, and local businessman Bob Funk, Jr.
Jimmy Nielsen is the team’s head coach. With nearly 600 MLS games under his belt, the 36-year old has a prestigious history as a goalkeeper, winning the MLS Cup 2013 with his final professional game between his team, Sporting KC, and Real Salt Lake. Nicknamed the “White Puma,” Nielsen originally hails from Aalborg, Denmark, where he was awarded Danish Goalkeeper of the Year in 1998 and 2004.
The Sporting KC soccer team invited Nielsen to join its MLS team in February 2010. During this time, he was recognized as a two-time MLS All Star, was the 2012 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and served as goalkeeper for the both the 2012 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Championship and the 2013 MLS Cup winning squad.
Nielsen explains that soccer was the natural pull for him.“Nine out of ten children in my home country are playing soccer,” Nielsen said. “I started at 17 being a professional soccer player and continued until last year when I retired. I had a blast.”
The Energy’s key management decided Nielsen was a great fit for the team. “It’s been very interesting beginning your coaching career, building up a brand new team,” Nielsen explains. “You want to see how [a player] develops as an individual but also how the guys develop as a group. “
Promoting Youth Soccer
The Energy’s staff and players believe that one of the primary responsibilities of the team is giving back to the community and helping to promote an interest in soccer to the next generation of young athletes. To help a larger number of local children become interested in sports, the team is actively involved with Oklahoma Cleats for Kids. The organization collects cleats, balls and other sporting items and distributes them to children who cannot afford to purchase equipment needed to play.
The team also sponsors summer camps to teach children about soccer and promote a healthier lifestyle. The children’s player and goalkeeper camps help teach leadership, sports awareness and healthy living for children ages 4-18.
“We hold a few camps during the summer and give the children the opportunity to come out and have fun,” Nielson said. “It motivates them to go out and want to get better. Soccer is about motivation and having fun as well.”
The camps are designed for boys and girls of all skill levels and abilities and use age-appropriate technical and tactical exercises designed by Energy FC coaches. Personal skill building, teamwork and actual games are also included.
see the Energy fc in action
The season’s opening game was hosted on April 26 against the defending USL-PRO league champions the Orlando City SC. All 3,741 seats for the game were completely sold out, showing the enthusiasm that the Oklahoma City sports scene has for the new team. While the team ultimately lost their inaugural game 2-1, team owner Bob Funk, Jr. said in a statement that “it’s great to watch OKC rally behind this team. This is precisely the start we need to begin the journey to get the MLS to OKC.”
Home games are held at Bishop McGuinness Catholic High School’s Pribil Stadium, located on the school’s northeast quadrant at the intersection of N.W. 50th Street and Western Avenue in Oklahoma City.
Tickets begin at $7 per game for advanced purchased lawn seats (the most family-friendly area) and $25 for VIP seating. Season passes start at $120 for the Fan Zone and $300 for VIP. Family packs and special group rates also are available.
To make attending games more affordable, the Energy sometimes offers family packs. The packs are $45 and includes four lawn tickets and a $20 concession stand voucher. Another popular option is the Get in the Game program, an exclusive experience that allows fans to do more than just cheer from their seats. Get in the Game offers six unique situations, including a chance to sing the National Anthem, accompany team members and officials onto the field, serve as a Game Ball Assistant or take a post-match photo. Get in the Game opportunities are limited and sell out quickly, so speak with team personnel for more information or to reserve your interactive opportunity.