Game Notes & Player Ratings: Oakland Roots draw 2-2 with San Diego while down a man

The Oakland Roots answered 1-nil and 2-1 deficits while down a man on Wednesday night against the San Diego Loyal thanks to late goals by Juan Carlos Azocar in the 86th minute, followed by a Ottar Magnus Karlsson with a stunning header goal at 90+4′ after a perfect dribble and pass by Emrah Klimenta.

The tie brings Oakland’s record to 0-3-3, still looking for their first win of the season and notches their third consecutive draw in the USL Championship; tying New Mexico 2-2, Tampa Bay 0-0, and now San Diego. Coach Juan Guerra offered his thoughts on the elusive first win.

“I can’t sleep, man. It bothers me, it bothers me. I don’t feel weak; I’m not afraid or nervous, I’m bothered. I’m angry, we just can’t catch any breaks. No one is going to give it to us, it’s up to us to grab it and take it. Tonight we showed that we can. You can call New Mexico, Tampa, or Landon Donovan tomorrow to see if they want to play us again,” said Guerra.

Shifting gears for a moment, this writer is having trouble correlating Landon Donovan’s brazen choice to start Andrew Carleton–a devout right-wing fascist–as a football-decision rather than him taking a shot against The Town, a historic stronghold against rhetoric which Carleton sympathizes.

Donovan knew exactly what he was doing when marching out a vocal right-wing extremist in the city which originated the Black Panther Party, a town which staunchly protested police-violence on numerous occasions since Oscar Grant’s 2009 murder and the 2011 Occupy Movement, and where the Boogaloo Boys extremist group murdered an on-duty security guard during a police-violence protest in 2020.

Carleton starting felt like a slap in the face, and The Function let him know what he is:

Now that we’re past Donovan being an apologist for far-right wing extremism, let’s get into the game.

It was an even battle in the first half with Roots’ maintaining 45 percent possession, three shots and one big chance missed, while Loyal had four shots with one on target and also missed one clear scoring opportunity. Despite being a man-down for most of the second half, Oakland finished the night 10 shots, two on target, three big chances with two missed.

“It was a solid first-half, I still think we can been better, should be better, and will be better–especially at home. In the first half, they were giving us spaces that we could’ve exploited more often. It will come, every game we are working harder and follow patterns within our identity. At times, we have to adapt and shift depending on the teams we are playing. Tonight, we faced a really good team with two good coaches and a lot of good players, and our boys were magnificent. We have to start winning now, we are capable of it,” said Guerra.

In the first half, Oakland’s attack had fluidity but missed a couple of scoring chances. Darek Formella sent a useful pass from the left side of the area toward the front of goal targeting Charlie Dennis but the ball deflected to Jose Hernandez–but he couldn’t find his shooting boots.

The big opportunity missed by Oakland came in the 41st minute when Dennis drew a foul five yards atop the area on the left side. Dennis took the free kick and sent a left-footed pass toward Tarek Morad making a cut towards the net, but his unmarked header trailed wide of the right post. The Roots also had a pair of scoring chances while trailing 1-nil in the 59th minute with Alejandro Fuenmayor’s rang the crossbar in the 59th after intercepting a pass, taking two strides before unloading a shot about four-yards above the box. Dennis retrieved possession on the edge of the area, sending a pass to the left post to Azocar–but he couldn’t handle the bounce while on the doorstep.

Guerra recalled missed chances in several games and acknowledged that they must begin “finishing the opportunities.”

“I agree, [we want to work on] finishing the opportunities that we’re creating. At RGV, Memphis, New Mexico, even at South Carolina. We created a lot of chances when we played away and we create more chances when we play at home in front of our people. So now it’s on us to start putting more of those chances away and keeping the ball out of our net,” said Guerra.

Collin Martin’s goal in the 52nd minute came shortly after Roots goal keeper Benny Diaz played a pass to Matias Fissore with the keeper looking for Fissore to pass back to him, rotating out of net toward the left side. The midfielder took a heavy touch right to the feet of Carleton, sending a pass back to Martin for the shot.

From there, Roots quickly looked to answer in the 55th minute when Azocar had a shot from about nine-yards above the penalty area go wide of the left post, and the pair of chances by Fuenmayor and Azocar in the 59th. Five minutes later, Morad drew his second-yellow, which seemed soft on TV.

“Now, I want to watch the game again, I don’t know if the foul was worthy of a red card for Tarek. I don’t know. But the truth is that no one is going to give us anything, we won’t get anything for free, it’s time for us to start grabbing what is ours. It’s up for us grab it, start hitting the table, and understand this is the way we’ll go forward. We’re ready for it,” said Guerra.

Fissore left the match in the 66th minute due to an apparent hamstring injury, leading to Emrah Klimenta’s addition into the lineup and will require further evaluation. The Roots struggled to create offensively for the following 15 minutes with 10 men, but were able to draw a corner in the 79th that resulted in Fuenmayor having a header go wide.

Oakland continued to look for long plays into San Diego’s area. Their goal in the 86th came two good plays from Edgardo Rito, winning the ball off of Kyle Adams and then off Kyle Vassel seconds later, sending a perfect cross to Azocar–getting his first-touch square for the goal.

But in the 90th, San Diego scored from a corner after Thomas Among’s header floated to the crossbar and back into play. Grant Stoneman mad contact on a falling ‘bicycle kick’ (if we want to call it that), where Diaz moved toward the center of net, allowing the ball to trickle in.

In the last minute of stoppage time, Karlsson’s goal came with San Diego sitting back, enabling the Roots to keep the ball in their half. Rito played a pass to Klimenta, who sidestepped the Evan Conway and whipped a perfect 20-yard cross to Ottar. The Big Fucking Viking’s header was perfectly placed, directing far enough to hit off of Koke Vegas’ hands and into net.

“This team is not going to quit and we’re not going to go down easily. With 10 men, we didn’t sit back and kept the system that allowed us to attack but also be compact defensively. The goal came, and sadly they scored on a set piece, again. This is another thing that we need to work on and keep working at it more than previously. We can’t keep giving away goals from set pieces. But then the team showed the character, the courage, and the love for each other until the last minute; they got the goal and I think they deserved it,” said Guerra.

Up to that point, Karlsson only had 17 touches going into the final 10 minutes of action. Now with three goals, the Icelandic striker made the most of his final service in the remaining time.

“His movement, his work rate, how humble this guy is, and then his talent–it’s all incredible. On top of that, he’s an amazing human being. He checks all the boxes with what we want on this team and what it means to be an Oakland Roots player. From him, what else can I ask. I just want him to stay healthy and to keep doing what he’s been doing since Day 1. Ottar being able to do what he can is because he has players around him doing what they can do as well. If he keeps getting that service, it’s because everyone is doing his job around him,” said Guerra.

Guerra offered some clues that much of Wednesday’s group will feature on Saturday against Loudon United, which is why many players didn’t make the trip out to Greenville for the U.S. Open Cup.

“This is why we were resting this group, because there is back-to-back games tonight and then again on Saturday. We were trying to rest them, not just so we could compete tonight, but to also see how the group is on Saturday. Today proved that we need everybody, look at how the subs did today. We had 10-men and we were playing the way we want to play, we were attacking how we want to attack. We have enough players to rotate the squad, ” said Guerra.

RootsBlog Man of the Match: Edgardo Rito

Credit: Oakland Roots SC

My Man of the Match goes to Edgardo Rito for nearly having two assists to fellow Venezuelan Juan Carlos Azocar. He now leads the team with two assists and earned a FotMob rating of 7.6

In 90 minutes, Rito recorded one assist and completed 19 of 23 passes, one key pass, 1/3 crosses, took one corner, had two successful dribbles in as many attempts, dribbled past one defender, won 2/5 ground duels, three clearances with one by header, four recoveries, and committed two fouls.

FotMob Top-10 Ratings

  1. Juan Carlos Azocar, 7.9

In 90 minutes, Azocar scored one goal with three shots and one big chance missing, completed 28 of 32 passes with one key pass, 1/2 crosses, 1/2 long balls, took one corner, dribbled past two defenders, won 1/4 ground duels, one block, two clearances, one interceptions, and six recoveries.

2. Edgardo Rito, 7.6

In 90 minutes, Rito recorded one assist and completed 19 of 23 passes, one key pass, 1/3 crosses, took one corner, had two successful dribbles in as many attempts, dribbled past one defender, won 2/5 ground duels, three clearances with one by header, four recoveries, and committed two fouls.

3. Ottar Magnus Karlsson, 7.6

In 90 minutes, Karlsson scored one goal with two shots and completed 7 of 12 passes, won one tackle in as many attempts, 3/4 ground duels, 4/7 aerial duels, had one clearance, and drew two fouls.

4. Alejandro, Fuenmayor, 7.6

In 90 minutes, Fuenmayor recorded two shots and completed 47 of 60 passes, 8/17 long balls, dribbled past one defender, won 2/4 tackles, 5/8 ground duels, three aerial duels in as many attempts, had one block, four clearances, four interceptions, six recoveries, drew one foul, and committed two fouls.

5. Emrah Klimenta, 7.3

In 23 minutes, Klimenta recorded one assist and completed nine of 12 passes, one key pass and one cross in as many attempts, had one successful dribble in as many attempts, won 1/1 ground duels, 1/1 aerial duels, and had one recovery.

6. Charlie Dennis, 6.8

7. Danny Barbir, 6.7

8. Matias Fissore, 6.4

9. Benny Diaz, 6.2

10. Chuy Enriquez, 6.1

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