The Oakland Roots host LA Galaxy II this Saturday, May 21 at 7:00 p.m. at Laney College. It is Oakland Zoo night at Laney, which is probably a lot of fun for kids or whatever. More importantly–do you remember the last time the Roots hosted Galaxy II for an Oakland Zoo night?
Three points and a season turned around, starting with a Max Ornstil belter.
The Roots were 1-4-8 going into that game, and here is what I said in the match preview:
Excuses don’t win games, but the Roots are (1) in their first season, (2) probably out of the playoff hunt, and (3) not at risk of relegation. In light of those considerations, we here at the Blog actually are interested in excuses, because what matters is the Roots’ long-term building as a team. Missed opportunities for points where the Roots are the better team actually are likely predictive of future success. In light of that, we are inclined to say that the Roots are nowhere near as bad as their results have looked, and the signs are there that the team is ready to make a turn. They are probably not as good as Rising, but they are not as bad as their record.https://oaklandrootsblog.blogspot.com/2021/08/oakland-roots-vs-la-galaxy-ii-match.html
Turns out I was right about everything except the Roots being out of the playoff hunt, which they absolutely were not. Things are currently better for the Roots than they were when I wrote that last season. Sure, the playoff hunt is likely slightly harder this season, but there is a lot of time to catch up.
Galaxy II are Galaxy I’s reserve/developmental squad, and have been a mainstay of USL for 8 season, including competing in the final in their first season. Last season they suffered from the two big problems you would expect from a reserve squad competing in a real league: (1) they are very young, and (2) on any given Saturday they may lose their best player(s) to the big kid squad. Sure enough, after putting up a good fight most of last season, they got nipped for the fourth playoff spot by the Oakland Roots when they fell to Orange County in their final game.
Unfortunately, Galaxy II don’t have any culture outside of their parent club (credit to Tacoma and Lights here for giving me something to talk about). Per Wikipedia, the team name “Galaxy” is derived from Hollywood being “home to the stars.”
The most important thing to know about Galaxy, if you know nothing else, is that their jersey sponsor is an MLM campaign, and they put it on a god damned statue.
boom boom, Landon.
Galaxy II’s Form
|3/12||A Whale’s Vagina FC||Away||L||1||2|
Galaxy II have scored one more goal than the Roots and conceded four more goals than the Roots through the same number of games, but are sitting on five more points. Their home form is significantly better than their away form. I wondered if that might relate to Galaxy I not wanting to send their likely call-ups on road trips, and that might be the case. Here are the starters in their last four games:
|Phoenix||@ El Paso||Louisville||@ Memphis|
|12. Lopez||12. Lopez||21. Sanchez||21. Sanchez|
|24. Neal||24. Neal||25. Dunbar||25. Dunbar|
|25. Dunbar||25. Dunbar||28. Ferkranus||28. Ferkranus|
|37. Aguirre||34. Davila||31. Judd||31. Judd|
|40. Cobian||40. Cobian||34. Davila||34. Davila|
|47. Lambe||47. Lambe||40. Cobian||47. Lambe|
|48. Barry||48. Barry||48. Barry||48. Barry|
|49. Cabral||49. Cabral||49. Cabral||49. Cabral|
|56. Perez||57. Williams||52. Campbell||52. Campbell|
|73. Salazar||73. Salazar||73. Salazar||72. Salazar|
|74. Doyle||74. Doyle||74. Doyle||74. Doyle|
Daniel Aguirre has made appearances for Galaxy I in three of their last four games, and at 22 years old that might mean that his days for the developmental team are over. He only accounts for two assists, but I recall him being one of their better players last season.
On May 9, Galaxy II lost 4-0 to El Paso.
Just as a preliminary note here, El Paso are 4-0-1 since the Roots drew away in El Paso 1-1, and have scored eleven and conceded three over that stretch. That draw is looking better and better. The Liam Doyle own goal in the 32nd to make it 2-0 is absolutely hilarious. It is almost certainly the furthest distance OG I have ever seen. Also, it is a risky back pass, but it is outrageous that primary fault here would hang on the defender and not on the keeper. If you get through to the end of these highlights, the disappointing news is that the Galaxy II keeper, Eric Lopez, appears to have lost his starting job.
Galaxy II then followed this up with a 4-3 win over Louisville, the team currently leading the Eastern Conference. FBRef says that Louisville ran a 7-3-1 for this match, which makes it especially egregious that they lost, but home field is huge in USL.
Louisville got off to a hot start, scoring in the second on a tap-in rebound, but Galaxy II equalized in the 19th on a scorching run from Preston Judd and Cameron Dunbar, and the teams went into halftime even. Louisville went up against in the 51st on a free kick that trickled through the walls and the keeper barely even moved for, and again Los Dos equalized on a Judd-Dunbar breakaway. In the 63rd Galaxy II went ahead on a penalty forced by (you’re not going to believe this) a Judd-Dunbar breakaway. Galaxy II extended their lead in the 76th mixing things up by having Judd play in the breakaway rather than lead it himself. Despite making it 4-3 in the 78th, Louisville could not find another equalizer.
Galaxy II traveled to Memphis midweek and go thrashed again FIVE-nil.
Look, this isn’t the hottest take about a team that has shipped 12 goals in their last 180 minutes, but the Galaxy II defense is in shambles. The opener came in the 14th minute when Laurent Kissiedou completely fell down in the box on a corner kick, and the ball still found him and he still managed to kick it in. The next three goals involve pretty good finishing from 901, but in all instances the opportunity comes out of pretty lackluster defending–failed clearances, lost runs into the box, late dives from the keeper. The last one for Memphis probably beats better defenses, too. Galaxy II can’t blame this on the red card–that didn’t come until the 90th minute.
Galaxy II have pretty mixed form. A 4-3 win over Louisville, and a 3-0 win over Phoenix two weeks before that are not bad, but the Roots have played El Paso and Memphis in the same venues and come out far better than Galaxy II did.
|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|
|5/14||AFC Pure Uncut Nevada Chaos||Away||D||1||1|
The Roots are 1-6-1 over their last 8 games and, to me, that is absolutely hilarious. It’s not quite Ted Lasso’s Richmond starting Season Two 0-7-0 but it’s pretty close. This game started frustrating for me, as I did not have internet in my AirBNB in Arcata. I was able to find internet at a cafe right off the 101, and got the game on just in time for Vegas to equalize.
In classic USL fashion, you could not see the Roots’ opener on the broadcast. The Vegas equalizer was frustrating, but it looks like it found Lara’s head and he put in a great header. I’m not sure there’s really an answer to that other than fouling him. There were a couple more good chances either way (although Vegas’s best chance was almost certainly a missed offside call). Dennis hit the post in the 63rd. The Hernandez-Johnsen midfield looked better but not perfect. Unfortunately, the best part of the game was the tube-man behind the Vegas goal that got stuck and ended up twerking for about 20 minutes.
Don’t worry, Roots bench, the twerking Tube Man cannot hurt you.
Players to Watch
Preston Judd # 31 – Preston Judd is a 6’2″ striker from Las Vegas who went to California Baptist University and put up 19 goals for Galaxy II last season. Judd’s name sounds vaguely like Prester John, an apocryphal medieval Nestorian Christian Patriarch who was said to rule over a vast Christian empire in the east. I have been repeatedly told that this joke is too esoteric. Judd was listed on the Galaxy I roster as of April 2022, but has yet to make an appearance in MLS. He is 22, and his real promotion may happen any minute. He has two goals and two assists to his name this season.
Cameron Dunbar # 25 – The 19-year-old Dunbar grew up in Carson, California, the home of Dignity Health Park, and has bounced back and forth between Galaxy I and Galaxy II over the last couple seasons. Dunbar tallied almost 300 minutes for Galaxy I last season, but has yet to appear for them this season. With three goals and two assists so far this season, like Judd, it seems like any week might be the last time we see Dunbar in the USL.
Michael Salazar # 72 – The 29-year old Belizean forward is third on Galaxy II in minutes this season, and has started in each of the last four matches. He has three goals and two assists, but at his age you would not count on him getting the call up. He earned a team of the week selection in week six for his goal & assist performance against Monterey Bay.
Any defender – lol probably not.
Lineup and Score Predictions
Here’s the thing–Galaxy II’s keepers are playing badly, and their defense is doing a bad job of protecting those keepers. The Roots have got to take their damn shots. Pissing around outside the box without taking your chances, while risking a turnover that springs the Judd-Dunbar counter-attack, is the best possible outcome for Galaxy. Dennis, Johnsen, and Formella can all pretty reliably put the ball where they want to, so fucking do it. Don’t let the perfect shot the be enemy of the good shot–Galaxy II keepers apparently cannot stop a pretty good shot. Even if those others don’t shoot, I think Karlsson takes this opportunity to go alone atop the goals table. I am going to continue to call for a return to two centerbacks, but I don’t think it happens that way this week. Nonetheless, Karlsson gives the Roots the goals they need to get three points on the road. 2-1 Roots.
My guess at the Starting 11 is the same as Bloom’s. Alejandro Fuenmayor is dealing with a back injury that forced him off in the 15th minute of last week’s game at Las Vegas, opening the door for Emrah Klimenta to get the start. In the midfield, Mikael Johnsen has made a huge impact since his inclusion against Orange County and the current plan appears to be for him to continue starting. It’s worth mentioning that Johnsen played his first full 90 minute match in nearly a year last Saturday, so it will be interesting to see if that plays a role in Juan Guerra’s decision. As for the score prediction, you have to feel some confidence going up against Los Dos in its current run of form—I’m going 3-1 Roots.
Aaron remains at large. We are doing our best to locate him without tipping off any relevant authorities. We cannot confirm that we have had any contact with him, but I found a note taped to the inside of my car’s glove box that reads “we’re done with three at the back: 3-2 Roots” and is signed with a series of cryptic symbols.