Stunned, depressed, all the adjectives. The Oakland Roots dropped their home opener in a 3-2 come-from-behind victory for Monterey Bay FC Union, marking their first win in franchise history while Oakland continues winless after three matches. Roots trailed 1-nil after eight minutes and powered ahead with two Ottar Magnus Karlsson goals. But in the 90th minute, Hugh Roberts headed a pass in from former Roots defender Kai Greene.
After the final whistle blew, Greene celebrated straight toward the Roots’ bench–where Jose Hernandez sat dejectedly for several minutes. As head coach Juan Guerra described, this was tough to swallow.
“It hurt, this one hurts a lot… We wanted to give back to the fans, community, city, and our players. At times, we played very well and displayed what we worked on during the week. We have to make sure we keep those moments that we’re doing well for longer periods of time. In the first half, they scored the goal but the guys fought back; they were very resilient. Second half, we started well, another goal comes, and we slowed down a bit. We have to make sure you keep the intensity, rhthym, and momentum for longer stretches,” explained Guerra.
“It’s gonna come, I know it’s gonna come. Our ideas and ambition are not changing. It’s a long race, we have to keep pushing forward. It may take longer than we expected, but I have no doubt it’s gonna come.”
The Roots’ attack continues to struggle, only credited for 33 percent of possession time with two shots on target, both by Karlsson. Monterey did well to hold up possession with striker Seku Conneh, who had the assist to Chase Boone in the 8th minute. MBFC’s go-ahead and game-winning goal both came by set pieces played into the area; the winner was assisted to Hugh Roberts in the 90th minute.
“I talked about it during the week. This team can hurt us with the long ball to a big-target striker. The second one was a set piece. These are things we have to keep working on and keep the levels of concentration way higher for longer periods of time,” said Guerra.
But Oakland had their opportunities. Prior to Ottar’s goal in the 39th, Matias Fissore had a shot go high in the 20th, Edgardo Rito played a nice pass to Darek Formella in the 29th, while Tarek Morad flicked a header off the post in the 33rd, while Formella had a scoring opportunity from a corner, but he couldn’t angle in his header at point-blank range.
Karlsson’s goal in the 39th came after drawing a penalty at the top of the area when Greene’s hand came in contact with the ball. Karlsson scored again 10 minutes later on a beautiful feed by Rito after receiving a longball from Danny Barbir.
“[Karlsson and Rito] did well, they did well individually and collectively. At the end of the day, we need more collective performances. I don’t think any of the players did poorly individually, but collectively, we need to stretch the periods we’re doing well and create more. That’s how you win games,” said Guerra.
The buildup to the second goal with Barbir feeding Rito for Karlsson’ goal was the system Guerra is envisioning.
“The way we moved the ball, the way we broke through lines, floated in pockets and kept the ball in their half a lot. There were a lot of positives. We created a lot of opportunities. We have to get better and we will. This one hurts a lot. I guarantee you that the boys are strong, focused and they’re going to fight back,” said Guerra.
From there, Oakland’s chances became minimal. Lindo Mfeka had a goal wiped in the 52nd minute after a nice pass flicked on by Karlsson after a pass out of the back from Barbir, but Mfeka was narrowly called offside. Running nearby was Formella, who may have been onside.
Boone’s brace in the 68th came from a corner which he helped draw. Running toward the near post, Boone sent a header across the face of goal to the left post.
Twice as nice! ⚽️⚽️ https://t.co/uIV4qIyIae— Monterey Bay F.C. (@MontereyBayFC) March 27, 2022
Juan Carlos Azocar had a shot go wide in the 78th after a ball fortunately dropped to him after Formella’s ball-in was batted around. Oakland’s last clear opportunity was in the 83rd when Azocar draw a spot-kick when a couple of feet above the area on the left side. However, Roots were unable to capitalize on the advantageous positio with Formella’s attempt going straight into the wall of defenders.
And then, MBFC’s Roberts hit the game-winner in the very last minute of regulation. It came after Joseph Nane was called for a foul on near the left sideline. James Murphy’s pass went across goal to Greene at the right post, heading back to t central to Roberts for the header goal.
Now 0-0-3, Oakland enters a difficult three game stretch with New Mexico on Wednesday, Tampa Bay next Saturday, and Greenville Triumph on Thursday, April 7.
“They know, they know what we have ahead. It’s not gonna be easy, and then we play Greenville and another tough opponent in San Diego after that. We have to stay focused, we have to stay concentrated and keep the intensity level high. I said it before, it’s gonna come, this is a process. We’re going to build a solid base for the future, and the results will come,” said Guerra.
My Man of the Match: Ottar Magnus Karlsson
Obvious, right? Ottar Magnus Karlsson scored his first two goals in a Roots’ uniform. He continued his presence atop the formation; holding the ball, flicking on passes, and positioning himself for targets. He’s 1/1 from the spot and put away an easy look in front of the net.
Oakland will need to continue finding its form, take what’s given to them, and finish clear chances.
In 90 minutes, Karlsson scored twice with three shots, one of which was blocked. He also completed 20 of 25 passes (80 percent) with one key pass, won one tackle in as many attempts, recorded one recovery, won 3/5 ground duels and 3/5 aerial duels, and drew one foul.