Your Oakland Roots, hot off their fifth draw of the season, head on down to Las Vegas to take on Lights F.C. at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 14, 2022. The Lights, unbelievably, are 6th in the Western Conference, now unmoored from the anchor that was Steve Cherundolo. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and KTVU+.
I never really got into the Lights’ Crest last season. Here’s what their website says:
I regret to inform you that I love this crest and I don’t hate the logic. Like, it’s garish trash, but that’s just synergy, baby. Luckily, the crest is the only part of this club that exists even within the penumbra of sanity in which all USL clubs float. The rest is pure madness:
The Lights have never been very good. They have never made the playoffs, or finished with more wins than losses. In 2021 they finished dead last in the Pacific Division with 6 wins and 21 points, 15 points behind 7th place Sacramento (lol) and 20 points behind the Roots in the last playoff place. Lights scored a respectable 41 goals (more than the Roots), but they shipped a staggering 77 goals in 32 games. In the 2021 season, the Lights had a partnership with LAFC of MLS, but terminated that partnership in the offseason. So how similar is the team to last year’s?
In some ways, pretty similar! Of the 11 players with the most minutes so far in the 2022 season Crisostomo, Quezada, Traore, Jennings, Leone, and Trejo all made double-digit appearances for the 2021 Lights.
In other ways, very different!
The Lights are two wins shy of matching their 2021 win total.
|3/13||New Mexico United||Away||L||0||2|
|4/09||Colorado Springs Troop Appreciators||Home||L||2||3|
|5/07||Monterey Bay Union Football Club of Seaside, California||Away||L||0||1|
Four wins is pretty good. They aren’t running away with the conference or anything, but I would not mind three more wins, is what I’m saying. I looked at that El Paso win in my preview for the Roots’ trip to El Paso.
Danny Trejo very nearly put Lights on top in the 24th, but his great run ended with a pretty tame shot for an easy save. Lights would go ahead in the 32nd on a ranged shot from Crisostomo that went in somehow directly over the keeper’s head.
Galaxy equalized in the 74th on a brilliant cross that forced the keeper to try to come out. He couldn’t get there, and Dante Campbell charged all the way across the box, head-first through the ball, and clean through into the net behind the ball.
Vegas followed up this pedestrian 1-1 home draw with a pedestrian 1-1 away draw.
Once again, Trejo was denied from close range by an opposing keeper, but this time Vitiello could not keep control of the ball, and it spilled out away from the prone Vitiello and to the onrushing Roberto Molino who tucked it away for the lead. Vegas held the lead for less time in this one, with Sacramento equalizing in the 37th. Lights keeper Romero punched a well-placed corner, perplexingly, straight down to the penalty spot, where Dan Casey who basically guessed and one-time rebounded the ball up and into the Lights’ net. Sacramento recorded 10 shots on target in this game, and Lights may have been lucky to escape with a result.
This past weekend, Lights traveled to Monterey Bay for the Union’s first home game in the league.
Every highlight in this is a Monterey Bay chance, some of them thwarted through good defense, some through questionable finishing. Monterey Bay ultimate took the lead on a screamer from Walmer Martinez right at the 55 minute mark. It’s worth watching for the goal and for the sunset behind the goal. That stadium is immediately the prettiest I have seen in USL. Possession was pretty much even through the game, but lights registered 6 shots, 1 on target, and deserved no more than they got.
|3/26||Monterey Bay Union Football Club of Seaside, California||Home||L||2||3|
|3/30||New Mexico United||Away||D||2||2|
|4/02||Tampa Bay Rowdies||Home||D||0||0|
|4/13||January 6 Apologists SC||Home||D||2||2|
|4/30||Colorado Springs Troop Appreciators||Home||L||0||3|
It remains the case that there has not been a truly offensive result since March 26, and really, only two bad results other than that. A lot of these draws are fine, and the Colorado Springs result is bad, but the performance was okay. They’re probably the best or second best team in the Western Conference. The problem is the accumulation of not good results.
Anyway, the match this past weekend down Orange County way was real crap for about 67 minutes.
Diaz absolutely put the ball across his own goal line, but the referee did not feel like refereeing that kind of game, so he waved it off. Orange County still took the lead sometime in the 20s and then doubled the lead in the 30s or something. It was garbage. Roots dominated possession but couldn’t do anything with it.
In the second half, Guerra yanked Azocar and brought on new boy Mikael Johnsen, on loan from Venezia in Serie A. We had heard Johnsen looked good in practice and god damn, he looked good in game. Immediately the Roots’ possession was more threatening. In the 68th Dennis played the ball long to Johnsen who could not quite get through the OC back line, but Karlsson beat the OC player to the loose ball and poked it back to Johnsen, who every so gently slid the ball into Rito’s path. Rito took one touch to his right to beat the keeper and slotted it in. It seemed like another completely missed opportunity for Roots, but three and a half minutes into three minutes of stoppage time, Roots were awarded a freekick in a dangerous position and Karlsson put in an absolute beauty to tie the game.
Updated Player Hater Ranking
As long as we are here, I thought I would share the updated-for-2022 and better formatted semi-official Player Hater Ranking.
The Blog will entertain any input that readers want to offer on the rankings and who should be added and why.
Players to Watch
Daniel Trejo #10 – Trejo is having an incredible season. Trejo has 6 goals and 4 assists, tied for the league lead on each and already passing his 2021 totals for each. Trejo has made 4 of 8 of the USL’s Teams of the Week, including twice being named Player of the Week. Trejo had some big chances against Galaxy II, but doesn’t seem to have made a big impact on either of the last two games. It’s possible his purple patch has run its course, and it’s possible that teams have figured out that you just mark him really closely and Vegas’s offense falls apart.
Daniel Crisostomo #15 – Crisostomo has two appearances on the USL Team of the Week bench, despite only a goal and an assist to his name so far. He plays in an attacking midfield role, where Trejo is more of a forward. Crisostomo made ten appearances for LAFC last season, so it makes sense that he would be one of the better players on LV, but at 25 years old his time as a project ran out and he was released by LAFC the end of the 2021 season. He came back as a full player for LV Lights, and has produced so far.
Lineup and Score Predictions
Vegas’s form has dipped; Oakland’s form is better than its results, and as road games go, Vegas is not much of a trek. Roots get their second win of the season behind another great performance by Johnsen. 2-0 Roots.
Is this the week Roots change their formation to a back four in order to feature a more heavy midfield lineup? Us at the blog are hoping that occurs, but it’s hard to predict that happening until it actually, in fact, happens. But you will notice one clear change in my predicted lineup to the former, Mikael Johnsen. The 21-year old Norwegian looked fantastic pairing next to Jose Hernandez against Orange County and it didn’t appear to take away from the defense, so my guess is that he returns against Las Vegas as a starter. My score prediction, I’m going 2-1 Roots with Oakland continuing its late-game prowess by scoring the game-winner in the last 20 minutes.
I think I said on a pod (and if I didn’t its because I edited it out and you just have to take my word for it), that Oakland would revert to a back 4 at some point because (1) our early predictions about a back 3 had to do with there being 5 CBs on the roster, which is no longer true, and (2) we have a glut of midfielders who need to see the pitch. This is when it finally happens. I am frankly guessing about the back 4. This is what ended the previous match, but you could pretty easily swap out one of Barbir or Morad for Azocar or Akeem Ward (hey! remember him?). Unlike Jon, I predict we will still see a true DM on the field, rather than playing a sort of vibes-based defense. I am thinking we will play in something like a 4-2-3-1 because that’s what the squad started the season with, but within a few games I am thinking this will be more reminiscent of a 4-3-3.
Anyway, 2-1 Oakland.