It was a lackluster season-opening 1-nil loss for the Oakland Roots on Saturday night against the RGV Toros. Oakland struggled to find any offensive consistency, only taking two shots on the night with none on target compared to 13 shots for RGV, where the one shot on target was enough to get the job done.
The Roots walked into the season with high hopes for an aggressive attack under new head coach Juan Guerra, who admits it took “too long” to build positive momentum.
“What hurts is that I didn’t think we were us. We were working on certain things for five and half weeks and it took us too long to become who we are to become our identity, so that’s what hurts the most. Not everything was negative. I saw some positives. At the end of the day we have to move on and there are still 33 matches left. We make sure we fix the things that didn’t go well today and we start thinking of Memphis, tonight,” said Guerra.
Oakland seldom found chances and lacked the finishing touch in several instances. In the fifth minute, Charlie Dennis made a nice turn at midfield to bring it forward, played out wide to Memo Diaz, but his cross was cleared. Darek Formella similarly had a pass cleared out in the 25th when targeting Mfeka.
In the 31st, Dennis sent a nice through-ball to Juan Carlos Azocar, enabling him to draw a foul just a few feet above the penalty area on the left flank. The Roots opted to pass with Dennis, but Formella couldn’t make contact with the cross.
Mfeka had the best chance for Oakland at 45+1′, where Ward sent a perfectly placed ball-in, but Lindo’s shot on the volley sailed to the left of the post.
Toros’ goal in the 34th minute came after some faulty work getting out of the back. Hernandez played a pass back to Taylor Bailey, who pushed it to Alejandro Fuenmayor. The center back sent a pass up into no-mans land, turning the ball over to RGV’s Luka Malesevic–sending a pass to Emilio Ycaza, who flicked it toward Frank Lopez. The portly 27-year old striker put his shot away for the eventual game-winner.
Guerra admits that Roots were “too eager” to look vertical in certain instances.
“We have to make sure that we are brave, that we have courage, that we keep the ball in the opponent’s half. At times we were too eager to go forward and be vertical and it was at times not necessary. We lost possession of the ball too many times and we want to be a team that can keep the ball. Today was a good test for us. We start thinking of Memphis, and we move on,” said Guerra.
With Matias Fissore out with an apparent injury, Jose Hernandez seemed thrust into a CDM role, playing deeper than his usual attacking position when going forward. Dennis appeared to be in the #10.
The big shock was Mfeka in the #9, and although you want to see him bury that shot to end the first half, you wonder if Ottar Magnus Karlsson’s arrival can make that big of an impact. Mfeka is a versatile player, but Oakland’s lack of attack seemed eerily similar to moments in 2021.
Guerra mentioned that the Roots’ system differentiated in the second half, but the opportunities in the latter 45 minutes weren’t overtly challenging. Lindo had another chance in the 60th minute after Azocar played a pass toward Formella, who flicked it to the South African, but he couldn’t make clean contact.
Formella played another nice pass to Lindo in the 67th after a couple of stepovers; Mfeka took a touch with his left foot, but couldn’t corral it with his right.
“It was good for us to transform, for example. We changed the shape because we wanted to exploit other spaces that were available and the guys did it. So, that was good. The team has the ability to tactically adapt during games and that is important. I said to the guys it’s just one game. I hate to lose and the boys hate to lose too and I’m sure we will be able to come back next week.”
FotMob Top-10 Player Ratings:
- Memo Diaz, 7.0
In 90 minutes, Diaz completed 32 of 44 passes (73 percent), 1/1 on successful dribbles, completed one long ball, won 3/4 tackles, recorded one interception, three recoveries, won 6/7 ground duels, and drew one foul.
2. Jose Hernandez, 6.8
In 90 minutes, Hernandez completed 52 of 59 passes (88 percent), 1/1 on successful dribbles, completed 4/5 long balls, won 2/2 tackles, recorded three recoveries, dribbled past one defender, won 7/9 ground duels, 1/2 aerial duels, and drew four fouls.
3. Joseph Nane, 6.8
In 90 minutes, Nane completed 69 of 76 passes (91 percent), 2/2 on successful dribbles, completed 1/2 long balls, won 2/3 tackles, recorded six recoveries, dribbled past one defender, won 6/9 ground duels, drew one foul, and committed one foul.
4. Darek Formella, 6.6
In 90 minutes, Formella completed 21 of 27 passes (78 percent), had one shot, 2/3 on successful dribbles, 1/2 accurate crosses, won 1/3 tackles, won 5/7 ground duels, 2/3 aerial duels, and commit one foul.
5. Charlie Dennis, 6.4
In 87 minutes, Dennis completed 29 of 36 passes (81 percent) and 3/6 crosses, took three corners, won one tackle in as many attempts, two recoveries, won 4/5 ground duels, and drew three fouls.
6. Emrah Klimenta, 6.4
In 75 minutes, Klimenta completed 48 of 54 passes (89 percent) and 1/2 long balls, recorded two blocks, two clearances, one header clearance, two interceptions, five recoveries, won 1/2 ground duels, and commit one foul.
7. Akeem O’Connor-Ward, 6.3
In 90 minutes, Ward completed 29 of 36 passes (81 percent), one key pass, 1/2 crosses, won one tackle in as many attempts, one clearance, one interception, three recoveries, dribbled past two defenders, won 1/5 ground duels, and committed two fouls.
8. Alejandro Fuenmayor, 6.3
In 90 minutes, Fuenmayor completed 66 of 84 passes (79 percent), 1/2 successful dribbles, completed 6/18 long balls, won 3/3 tackles, blocked three shots, recorded two clearances, one interception, eight recoveries, won 4/8 ground duels, 1/2 aerial duels, and committed three fouls.
9. Juan Carlos Azocar, 6.2
In 90 minutes, Azocar completed 20 of 31 passes (65 percent), 1/2 crosses, and 1/3 long balls,
took one corner, won one tackle in as many attempts, recorded one clearance, one interception, and seven recoveries, won 4/10 ground duels, 1/2 aerial duels, drew three fouls, and committed two fouls.
10. Taylor Bailey, 5.7
In 90 minutes, Bailey completed 28 of 31 passes (90 percent) and 6/9 long balls, recorded one punch, two throws, one high claim, and five recoveries.