Game Notes & Player Ratings: Oakland Roots out of U.S. Open Cup after 2-0 loss to Greenville

Well, that was rough. The 2-nil loss to Greenville Triumph was a lot to take in for Roots supporters, evident by requiring near a full 48 hours between the final whistle on Thursday and this article posting on Saturday morning to process. Using all the time possible prior to Wednesday’s meeting with San Diego Loyal, let’s get into this mess.

This year’s second round of the U.S. Open Cup was a huge sticking point for the United Soccer League’s aspirations for a promotion-relegation system within its divisions with Roots SC being the eighth USL Championship organization to be bounced out early.

Despite Oakland sitting several starters from the previous match like Ottar Magnus Karlsson, Charlie Dennis, Edgardo Rito, Benny Diaz, and Matias Fissore, this lineup should’ve been good enough to get the job done and was a supreme opportunity for fringe players looking to earn a first-team spot. Oakland’s offense cannot be totally at a loss without Karlsson and Dennis starting, and right now, it seems that way until proven otherwise.

It still should’ve been an aggressive enough lineup with Johnny Rodriguez up top, Lindo Mfeka and Chuy Enriquez opposite each other on the wings, Jose Hernandez in the #10, with Memo Diaz and Akeem Ward pressing forward at fullback.

Looking at the stats, you’d think Roots were just unlucky; compiling 71 percent of possession time with 17 shots and nine on target compared to Triumph’s nine shots with six on target. But Oakland’s attack struggled to make meaningful chances with every empty possession, while Greenville’s attack had potency with every push up the field.

Greenville was ready for each push into the attacking area by Oakland, often pressing the ball with multiple defenders to retain possession in central areas.

Triumph’s go-ahead goal from Jake Keegan in the 31st minute exposed an out-of-position defense on multiple levels. Lucas Coutinho received a pass around midfield with Mfeka not marking anyone, he’s able to take a touch and lob a pass over the defense on the volley. On first glance, Keegan looks like he’s offside, but as the camera continues to pan, Diaz appears and would’ve likely been ruled as the player holding him onside.

Regardless, of any possible complaints, a goal allowed from a questionable position is less surprising than a Triumph clean sheet. Taylor Bailey was caught off of his line, perhaps preparing for a harder shot, allowing Keegan to chip the ball over his head–shades of Detroit City’s game-winner in the NISA 2020 Fall Cup.

A shot by Mfeka that was tipped over the net in the 16th minute and a shot on target by Johnny Rodriguez in the 24th was nearly all to write home about. Perhaps arguments can be made that Rodriguez was pulled down in the penalty area in the 44th minute, but Triumph could’ve been up multiple goals in the first half.

In the 20th minute, Keegan retrieved a ball out of Greenville’s back line, who sent to 34-year old veteran Don Smart–sending a lofted ball to Allen Gavilanes charging toward the left post. He probably could’ve shot it, but sent a pass back toward Keegan at the right post for the near chance.

Aaron Walker had a shot from distance for straight to Bailey in the 28th minute, while Greenville hit the post four minutes after its goal in the 35th. This time, Jamie Smith sent another ball over the top with Tyler Polak and Gavilanes running free on the left. Polak retrieved, sending a pass back to Gavilanes, who found Jesus Ibarra un marked. His shot from the right side hit the left post.

In the 44th, Rodriguez contended for a penalty when looking for an athletic shot attempt on the volley, feeling that he was pulled down by the defender. Watching the replay, it probably wasn’t a penalty.

Enriquez had a shot attempt in first-half stoppage time drop wide of the net, put drew a corner. Enriquez’s pass from the corner was headed high over the net by Joseph Nane.

In the second half, Oakland continued to press forward with long possessions, but struggled to create anything challenging around Greenville’s penalty area with many passes going straight out of the back.

Following a shot on target by Triumph’s Smart, Enriquez took an attempt from the top of the area targeting the top-right bin, but his shot was easily saved. Had had another attempt from a tougher angle in the 59th, which may have been a pass toward Rodriguez, but it was grabbed by the keeper.

Roots’ best opportunity to score came in the 83rd minute when Diaz sent a well-placed cross into Azocar, who did well to position himself to hold off the defender, but he couldn’t make flush contact on his header attempt, and the ball sailed high over the net.

Greenville’s final goal by Smart came after Emrah Klimenta sent a longball targeting Rodriguez, but the Triumph centerback headed the ball unchallenged back towards their attack. With Klimenta the only defender back, that was headed back toward Jacob Labovitz, who flicked a pass back to Smart. On the play, Bailey stayed back in the net, perhaps unsure whether to come out of net this time, and the ball went in.

Game. Over.

Man of the Match: Chuy Enriquez

If we’re giving it to any one player, it’s Chuy Enriquez. Had had multiple shots on target and key passes, finishing with FotMob’s top rating of 7.9

In 90 minutes, Enriquez recorded three shots with all three on target and completed 21 of 28 passes (75 percent), five key passes, three successful dribbles in as many attempts, 6/15 crosses, 1/4 long balls, took eight corners, won one tackle in as many attempts, 8/9 ground duels, two recoveries, and drew four fouls.

FotMob Top-10 Player Ratings

  1. Chuy Enriquez, 7.9

2. Max Ornstil, 7.2

3. Emrah Klimenta, 7.1

4. Lindo Mfeka, 7.0

5. Memo Diaz, 7.0

6. Jose Hernandez, 6.7

7. Juan Carlos Azocar, 6.6

8. Joseph Nane, 6.6

9. Wolfgang Prentice, 6.6

10. Johnny Rodriguez, 6.5

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