Game Notes & Player Ratings: Karlsson’s PK lifts Oakland to 1-1 tie with Sacramento Republic

Oakland came away with another tie on Saturday, drawing 1-1 against Sacramento Republic. It required more late-game magic for Roots by way of an Ottar Magnus Karlsson penalty kick in the 81st minute of action, but a dreadful first half and a Republic side without several routine starters left more to be desired from coach Juan Guerra.

“We faced a really big rival tonight and did a lot of things well, but we need to keep improving. I don’t feel like we gained a point tonight, I feel that we left two points on the table,” said Guerra.

While down 1-0 in the waning minutes, Oakland switched systems to a 4-4-2 after Chuy Enriquez entered in the 78th.

“We started with our regular formation, and in the second half we were down by a goal and had to shift. We wanted to be a bit more aggressive and add more numbers in their side of the field and a player who could be closer to Ottar so they could combine well. We finished playing in a 4-4-2, and I think it looked good. We looked good going forward but it left us vulnerable on defense, at times we were attacking with numbers and Sacramento was transitioning very quickly. It was dangerous, but we had to finish with more numbers in the offensive half. I think it worked to draw the penalty and we still created some chances after that,” said Guerra.

“But the problem wasn’t the end of the game, the problem was the first half; it was another set-piece goal that we gave up. Even though we weren’t sharp and it wasn’t our best first half, we still created chances. I go home tonight bothered because I think we deserved a better result with how much effort we put into the second half, especially the last 25 minutes. But, again, the games are 90 minutes, and we didn’t utilize the first 45 minutes as well as we should have,” he added.

Oakland’s score in the 81st minute continued its propensity for having late-game resilience. It marked their seventh goal of the season scored in the last 15 minutes of action. Guerra credits some of that to the fans but reiterated that one-half of good soccer isn’t enough to get the results they desire.

“Late, late magic is a character of the team. And, it’s playing at home. It’s incredible how the fanbase and the supporters are engaged, they follow the game. You go to other stadiums in the USL where it’s not like this. For us, it’s impossible to give up and to not have guys giving everything until the last whistle, and that’s been proven time-after-time. Again, we fought until the final whistle and fought from behind. I feel like we deserved more, but I have to watch the game. If you don’t utilize the first 45 minutes, you’re usually going to get just 50 percent,” said Guerra.

Republic peppered Oakland’s goal with 20 shot attempts, seven on target, and seven attempts blocked–needing a big contribution from goal keeper Paul Blanchette. The veteran keeper was instrumental in keeping Oakland in the game with several stops in the closing minutes.

He was glad to be back.

“I don’t think we played our best. We obviously want to win every time we come out. It’s a work in progress but we were worse off last year, we just keep on going. Sacramento is a difficult team to play against and will put you in tough spots… Oh yeah, man, it felt good to be back,” said Blanchette. See his full interview below.

“I’m so proud of Paul. In the situation we put Paul tonight, it wasn’t easy. He was coming back from COVID and was out for a week-and-a-half, and didn’t train a lot this week. He was thrown into one of the toughest games we’ll play this year, it says a lot about his character and the type of person and player who he is. I’m very proud of him, he was good tonight. These are some of the positives that we have to keep building. We always take the next-man-up approach, and that next-man-up has to make sure they do well.. We’re going to need everybody; it’s a long, long battle to November,” said Guerra about the Roots’ keeper.

Bringing a spark to Oakland’s attack was midfielder Lindo Mfeka making his first appearance since April 17 against Loudoun United when he sustained an ankle injury. The South African made a huge impact by pressing the ball and putting himself in perfect position when drawing the late penalty. He was calling for the pass from Karlsson while Darek Formella’s ball into the box was in the air.

“Lindo is a key piece in what we’re trying to build. Lindo is a player who has been influencing the team in a positive way since Day 1, and Day 1 he got hurt. He was coming out of an injury and spent half of the offseason hurt and doing therapy. When I came to the team, he was still hurt from an injury last season. He’s been finding ways to be positive and influential since that first day; doing whatever it takes to make sure his teammates are ready and pushing them in the right direction on and off of the field. When he’s on the field, he creates opportunities and fits our game model very well,” said Guerra.

“We finished in a 4-4-2 and he was playing underneath the striker. It took him only a few minutes to start influencing the game, this is what we want to see. It’s a great example for the young guys and players who aren’t starting. It’s finding ways to be influential and make sure you’re pushing and doing whatever it takes to win,” Guerra continued.

Sacramento’s goal by Luis Felipe in the 42nd minute exploited the Roots’ troublesome free-kick defense, this time from a corner. Oakland went into the half holding 55 percent of possession, but with Republic sitting deeper in an attempt to maintain the 1-nil advantage, things opened up for Roots on the offensive end. Bringing on Mfeka and Chuy also had an obviously big impact.

“We have depth and our players are engaged. When we make substitutions, this team has the ability to transform, adapt to games, and make sure that when we change and make substitutions–we get better. This is what we want. To me, the guys that started the game are as important as the guys that finish. I tell them all the time, that the guys who aren’t starting have to make sure they influence the game in a positive way. They have a huge responsibility to close games; that is enormous. Our guys understand that, they embrace it, and they come in eager to influence the game. Today that happened, I liked our team in the second half, how they played through lines and squeezed them into their own half. But again, there’s a lot of things to work on, the first half was not good enough. When you play teams like this and you make mistakes and give them a half, they are most likely going to put one on you,” said Guerra.

The tie means Oakland continues as the leading team in its newly minted rivalry with Sacramento, now 1-4-0 over Republic. Guerra voiced that they cannot get wrapped up in the emotions of facing their NorCal foe, and that each game from here on is considered a “Final,” and that focus must now shift to Orange County visiting on Wednesday.

“This is a rivalry week. I know what it means for the fanbase and the organization, especially for the players that were here last year. But, the reality for us is that every game is a Final. For us, we have the same level of motivation and responsibility every week. I’d be lying to you if I said this game motivates me more than Orange County on Wednesday and Monterey on Saturday. For me, every game is a Final right now. Yes, Sac is a great team and they are doing a lot of things properly. It’s a coaching staff that has been together for a while and I think Mark [Briggs] finally has his team,” said Guerra.

RootsBlog Man of the Match

Paul Blanchette

How could we not nominate Paul Blanchette as Man of the Match? Paul “The Wall” was back and showed why he was such a fan-favorite last season. He was critical manning the net, recording five saves and aside from a parry attempt that pushed the ball back toward Sac’s Luther Archimede for a shot on target, he never put Oakland in a difficult position. Paul also effectively started offensive possessions by completing passes and tosses to move Roots in transition.

In 90 minutes, Blanchette had five saves with two by diving and completed 29 of 38 passes, 8/17 long balls, one punch, eight throws, one high claim, and 13 recoveries.

Lindo Mfeka

Lindo’s big return to the lineup won’t show up on FotMob’s rating system with just a 6.7, but he was perhaps the catalyst in turning the tide when trailing 1-0. Entering the the 70th minute, Mfeka showed his presence by always getting the right spot and pressing Sacramento into mistakes.

He drew the penalty by shadowing Ottar and calling for the pass while the ball traveled towards the Icelandic striker.

In 19 minutes, Mfeka won the penalty kick and completed 10 of 11 passes, 2/2 long balls, took one corner, won 1/1 ground duel, and finished with 14 total touches.

FotMob Top-10 Player Ratings

  1. Ottar Magnus Karlsson, 8.1

In 90 minutes, Karlsson scored once and recorded four shots with two on target and two blocked, and completed 18 of 21 passes, 2/2 long balls, created four chances, had 1/5 successful dribbles, blocked one shot, had one header clearance, one recovery, won 2/9 ground duels, 3/5 aerial duels, drew one foul, and finished with 42 total touches.

2. Darek Formella, 7.6

In 90 minutes, Formella recorded three shots with one on target, one blocked, and one off of the woodwork, completed 28 of 34 passes, 1/3 crosses, 5/5 long balls, created two chances, won 1/1 tackle, 3/8 tackles, 1/2 aerial duels, blocked one shot, one clearance by header, one interception, four recoveries, dribbled past one defender, drew one foul, and finished with 49 total touches.

3. Emrah Klimenta, 7.6

In 90 minutes, Klimenta recorded two shots and completed 65 of 77 passes, 3/6 long balls, won 1/6 ground duels, 3/7 aerial duels, blocked three shots, four clearances with two by header and one off of the line, two interceptions, 11 recoveries, dribbled past two defenders, drew one foul, and finished with 94 total touches.

4. Juan Carlos Azocar, 7.4

In 90 minutes, Azocar recorded two shots with one blocked and completed 21 of 26 passes, 1/1 cross, 2/3 long balls, 3/3 successful dribbles, created one chance, won 5/8 ground duels, two clearances with one by header, one interception, eight recoveries, drew two fouls, and finished with 56 total touches.

5. Jose Hernandez, 7.3

In 90 minutes, Hernandez completed 55 of 67 passes, 2/5 long balls, had 2/5 successful dribbles, dribbled past two defenders, won 1/2 tackles, 8/13 ground duels, 1/1 aerial duel, eight recoveries, drew four fouls, and finished with 80 total touches.

6. Paul Blanchette, 7.3

In 90 minutes, Blanchette had five saves with two by diving and completed 29 of 38 passes, 8/17 long balls, one punch, eight throws, one high claim, and 13 recoveries.

7. Tarek Morad, 7.2

In 90 minutes, Morad completed 74 of 83 passes, 7/7 long balls, blocked two shots, won 2/5 ground duels, 5/8 aerial duels, nine clearances with one by header, seven recoveries, drew two fouls, and finished with 104 total touches.

8. Mikael Johnsen, 7.0

In 90 minutes, Johnsen recorded two shots with one blocked, completing 27 of 38 passes, 2/3 crosses, created one chance, 6/7 successful dribbles, blocked one shot, won 1/1 tackle, 7/14 ground duels, two interceptions, six recoveries, and finished with 63 total touches.

9. Danny Barbir, 7.0

In 78 minutes, Barbir completed 54 of 67 passes, 2/7 long balls, created one chanace, won 4/6 ground duels, 1/1 aerial duel, two clearances, one interception, three recoveries, drew two fouls, and finished with 77 total touches.

10. Charlie Dennis, 6.8

In 71 minutes, Dennis recorded one shot on target, completing 17 of 20 passes, 2/4 crosses, 2/2 long balls, took one corner, won 1/6 ground duels, 2/4 aerial duels, three clearances with two by header, one interception, two recoveries, and finished with 38 total touches.

One thought on “Game Notes & Player Ratings: Karlsson’s PK lifts Oakland to 1-1 tie with Sacramento Republic

Leave a Reply