February 6, 2014

OKC Energy's Nielsen used to building soccer from scratch



"You should've seen me in school, at recess I was organizing the team when we were playing; 'you are playing defender, you're in back, you're up front,'" he said. "There's always been a little coach in me, and in the last seven or eight years I've been coaching a little bit here and there."

Having spent time under Pete Vermes, the man who took Sporting Kansas City from mediocrity to 2013 MLS Champions, and the fact that his favorite team is FC Baarcelona, it seems Nielsen has a predisposition toward an attractive, attacking style of soccer. Implementing that with Energy FC will be a worthwhile process. 

Fans will come to watch the new team out of novelty, but they will only stay for winners and success. Aside from the difficulties expansion teams usually experience in their first season, there's the separate North American Soccer League team that will start in Oklahoma City in 2015, directly competing with Energy FC for advertising, full stadiums, and possibly even players.

All of this adds to the pressure on Nielsen's shoulders as the first man asked to carry the team forward into relatively unknown territory. But pressure, he says, is part of the job, and a part that he relishes.

"There's got to be pressure," Nielsen said. "That's part of my drive, part of my motivation. If there was no pressure, why would I be here? We want to be part of a community where soccer is the focus as well. There will be a lot of opinions, a lot of discussion about how Energy FC should play, and that's how it should be. I like it." 

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