Fresno's Jemal Johnson scored in the club's 1-1 draw against Energy FC earlier this season. (Photo by Kiel Maddox/Fresno FC)
FRESNO, Calif. - Los Zorros head east in Week 23, playing at OKC Energy FC this Saturday, August 10. Kickoff is 6 p.m PT at Taft Stadium. Watch live on CW59 and ESPN Plus.
Their last time out, the two sides split points as fifth-place Fresno and seventh-place OKC played to a 1-1 draw on June 8 at Chukchansi Park.
A lot has happened since that meeting. Fresno has enjoyed the up-and-up, winning 6 of its last 8 matches, including five in a row at home. Meanwhile, OKC has gone 2-3-4 to hold onto a bottom playoff position. Fresno will look to improve on the road, where it has fared with a 4-2-4 record and collect road win number 5 against an OKC side that will be without Jamaican midfielder Je-Vaughn Watson, who will serve one-match suspension for his two yellow cards the week prior, and head coach Steve Cooke, who has been suspended for one game following his dismissal from the technical area for irresponsible behavior during the club’s contest with Tulsa Roughnecks FC on August 3.
To achieve 3 points, Fresno will need to get by OKC's Cody Laurendi, whose 77 saves this season are the most of any USL Championship goalkeeper. On the other end, OKC will be hungry to grab its first home win since May 25, having gone 0-2-4 in its last six matches at Taft Stadium.
Head Coach ADAM SMITH
AS: "It's always a good game against OKC. We know it's going to be a tough game. I think [Steve Cooke] would be the first to admit this; that we were a little lucky at our place earlier this season. But we also have to hold our hands up and say that we should've put them away and we didn't. But, I think we've matured a lot as a group since that game."
On Saturday's conditions in OKC.
AS: "It's not going to be easy. It's going to be hot. It's going to be humid. They're comfortable on the narrow field so they'll have the advantage. But that doesn't matter because we're going there to win. We're going to give them a good game. We know their strengths, we know their weaknesses and we have a better team. Collectively, if we're firing on all cylinders Saturday night, we'll give them a run for their money and come back with all 3 points."
On injuries and club depth
AS: "We had a bad injury in the last game but it gives somebody else a chance and an opportunity. I'm probably going to tinker with the team a little bit based on the travel, the conditions, and the Friday game coming back which takes away a day from our normal schedule. All of that will go into consideration when I pick the team. It's unfortunate that we've had two breaks this season, but there are always going to be injuries. Of course, we wish our guys the best - Arun will bounce back - but what we have to do is look forward and not worry about players being injured or feeling sorry for ourselves. They've helped put us in a great position and we have to keep going."
Fresno FC's first-ever win came against the Energy back on March 31, 2018 by way Rony Argueta's late winner. OKC, however, has been able to grab a point in each of the last two contests, holding Fresno to a 0-0 draw in the Sooner State later that season. In this year's first meeting on June 8, 2019, the two sides finished 1-1.