Game Notes & Player Ratings: Oakland Roots get late 2-2 equalizer against New Mexico

The Oakland Roots eked out its first point of the 2022 campaign thanks to a late equalizer against New Mexico United when Chuy Enriquez found Tarek Morad to smash a header goal at 90+1′, making it 2-2 in the final moments of action.

Despite it arguably being the Roots’ best performance of the season, it required Oakland to answer a 2-1 deficit when New Mexico’s Sergio Rivas landed the go-ahead in the 69th minute.

Juan Guerra brought a different system, deploying a back three of Tarek Morad, Danny Barbir, and Alejandro Fuenmayor and a twin CDM pairing of Joseph Nane and Matias Fissore. It allowed Juan Carlos Azocar to start at left back and run free down his side. Perhaps it was a look that New Mexico did not expect as Oakland had, perhaps, their best first half of the season.

Charlie Dennis was a big part in the gang salvaging a point, scoring in the seventh minute in some terrific buildup-play by the Roots. It started with Dennis working his way around a defender and kicking out wide to Edgardo Rito on the right wing, who sent a cross that was pushed out by the keeper, falling to Nane.

Instinctively, Nane flicked a pass to Dennis, who followed through with the left-footed goal.

New Mexico’s Neco Brett nearly tied it in the 19th minute when dribbling by three defenders and uncorking a shot that was deflected of Fissore’s hip and over the net. Roots gained a pair of corners at 22′ and 23′, while Dennis almost struck again in the 34th minute with a shot that would’ve been a goal of the year candidate. After Juan Carlos Azocar got free in a 1-on-1 situation with the New Mexico fullback, he sent a cross into the area that was headed out to Dennis.

Dennis, taking a page out of Dele Alli’s 2016 goal against Crystal Palace, took a touch with his left to volley the ball over the defender above the penalty area and following up with a left-footed shot that crashed off the crossbar.

But the first half ended on a sour note. Benny Diaz recorded a kick-save in the 37th minute on a shot by Rivas, while New Mexico scored after Chris Wehan flicked a ball to himself and sent a ball toward Diaz, which was batted into play and to the feet of Brett for the goal at 45+1′.

And the momentum carried into the second half with New Mexico having a scoring opportunity in the 53rd when Brett connected on a long cross in by Daniel Bruce, but Diaz was there for the save. NMU scored its go-ahead in the 69th when Sam Hamilton found Rivas for the goal. The no offside call left myself and Roots’ supporters going ballistic.

Here’s a look at the ball-in from Hamilton. It appears Fuenmayor was ruled to be keeping New Mexico onside.

United had near chances in the 81st and 84th, but Roots started to find a groove on the offensive end thereafter. In the 85th, Rito had a cross toward the goal targeting the left post, but Oakland couldn’t get a head on the ball. Enriquez then sent a perfect ball to Johnny Rodriguez in the 89th minute, but New Mexico keeper Alexandros Tambakis leapt for the athletic save.

And then, with four minutes of stoppage time, Chuy sent another lofted pass into the area with his right foot, finding Morad crashing in to score his first-ever Roots’ goal. It came after a cross by Dennis, deflecting off of Barbir and back to Enriquez on the edge of the area; taking a touch with his left and passing with his right.

My Man of the Match: Chuy Enriquez

Credit: Oakland Roots SC

To be fair, Charlie Dennis is definitely the most obvious Man of the Match with his one goal, three shot attempts, and FotMob rating of 8.6. He was a true difference maker. However, my vote goes to Chuy Enriquez for his contributions when entering in the 60th minute and assisting the equalizing goal.

The Roots looked bleak in the second half. But Enriquez recorded back-to-back key passes in the 89th to Johnny Rodriguez and 90+1 to Tarek Morad. As someone battling for playing time, his second-half presence was great to see.

In 30 minutes, Enriquez recorded one assist and completed 11 of 12 passes (92 percent), 1/2 crosses, and two key passes in 17 touches. He also won one aerial duel in as many attempts and gained three recoveries.

Bloom & Lawson’s Man of the Match: Joseph Nane

Joseph Nane had the assist to Charlie Dennis in the seventh minute on a nifty flick to send the ball behind him and to Dennis’ feet. Moreover, he was a stalwart in the midfield to provide defense and turn it into offense.

In 80 minutes, Nane recorded one assist and completed 27 of 32 passes (84 percent) and one key pass, had 2/3 successful dribbles, won one tackle in as many attempts, 3/8 ground duels, 1/3 aerial duels, and seven recoveries. Top-10 Player Ratings

Credit: Oakland Roots SC
  1. Charlie Dennis, 8.6

In 90 minutes, Dennis recorded one goal with three shots, one on target and one off the woodwork. He also completed 23 of 33 passes (70 percent), 3/7 crosses, 6/8 long balls, two key passes, and took six corners, to go along with three successful dribbles in as many attempts, won one tackle in as many attempts, 10/15 ground duels, 1/2 aerial duels, two interceptions, six recoveries, and drew six fouls.

2. Tarek Morad, 7.7

3. Joseph Nane, 7.6

4. Edgardo Rito, 7.3

5. Benny Diaz, 7.2

6. Chuy Enriquez, 7.1

7. Matias Fissore, 6.8

8. Danny Barbir, 6.7

9. Alejandro Fuenmayor, 6.7

10. Akeem Ward, 6.2

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