The Oakland Roots host Orange County Soccer Club tonight, June 1, 2022 at 7:00 p.m. at Laney College, for the first home midweek fixture of the season. The game will be on ESPN+. The short week means we’re going to have a short preview because I did not spend my Memorial Day writing this preview. However, to kick things off, here’s my new recurring (when I remember) feature, where I give you a song by a band that I like from our opponent’s city/region.
This has been the track of the summer for 11 of the 16 summers since Turn the Radio Off came out. I strongly suspect I am the only person who holds this opinion. This feature is going to primarily be ska or ska-adjacent, so get prepared to like the blog slightly less.
Orange County’s Form
|5/07||GOD’S OWN OAKLAND ROOTS||Home||D||2||2|
Orange County have had three matches since they hosted Oakland at the beginning of May. They followed their last-minute collapse against the Roots with a 5-1 thrashing of Tulsa also in Orange County.
Tulsa have shipped the most goals in the league (not /90, but still second worst there), and were making a two-time zone trip to Orange County, but OC did the job here. It was already 3-0 when a Tulsa CB got sent off. Torres opened the scoring in the 5th on a perfectly executed set piece delivered by Mikko Kuningas. The second and third goals were professional goals, taking advantage of a capitulating defense. The red card in the 30th also came with a penalty that Daniel Pedersen converted. Milan Iloski finished his hatty on his best goal of the bunch in first half stoppage time. Tulsa won the second half, but uh, yeah.
Orange County then finished out their homestand with a draw to El Paso.
OC only recorded three shots on goal, scoring on two of them. Iloski’s opener in the 30th was silly. He took a speculative and pretty tame shot on the ground from outside the box and the keeper got down for it but for some reason it took a strange bounce up and over the prone keeper. OC almost doubled their lead with a shot off the post in the 51st and about a minute later El Paso equalized through Luis Solignac on a firey breakaway. The teams traded sloppy goals to split the points.
This past Friday, Orange County traveled away to Atlanta and picked up a 0-0 draw.
As we harp on, traveling across time zones really messes teams up. That said, this is still a trash result. Atlanta are the second-worst defense in the league, and this was their first clean sheet of the season (also Orange County’s first clean sheet, lol). In fact, it was their first game since April 2 in which they conceded fewer than two. Possibly more embarrassing, Orange County only led xG 1.06-0.93 and had only a single shot on target, which is to say, they did not get particularly unlucky.
Happy to be hosting Orange County on a short week where they traveled to the East Coast.
|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|
|5/21||Galaxia de Carson, Two||Home||W||1||0|
|5/28||Central Valley Republic||Home||D||1||1|
This fucking game man.
As the highlights show, in the first 30 minutes Karlsson got a great header, but unfortunately right to the keeper, and Formella hit the post on a great shot past the keeper. Then, of course, some stupid bullshit happened with a lousy corner kick that the Roots didn’t clear and Luis Felipe put in when it trickled through to him. I still don’t know what exactly to make of the penalty call in the 79th. I think the issue is that it’s a nailed-on penalty, but it is so weird and slow motion that it seems like it shouldn’t be. The keeper just–did not need to take Mfeka out. Anyway, Karlsson gave the keeper a sporting chance with his shot, but showing the true departure from last year’s team, he converted.
Players to Watch
Mikko Kuningas picked up a knock in training, which prevented him from playing in Atlanta. Therefore, you are spared both the player hater ranking, and his inclusion in my players to watch.
Milan Iloski #7 – I highlighted Iloski last time as one of Orange County’s then-joint leading scorers. Iloski put up a hat trick against Tulsa and scored OC’s only goal against El Paso and is now the lone leading goal scorer on six. Those four goals have been split two and two with well-placed ranged efforts and fox-in-the-box finishing.
Daniel Pedersen #12 – 29-year-old Dane Pedersen was Fotmob’s highest rated player for Orange County in the last matchup. Orange County plays a very defensive setup, where even the outside midfielders are more like box-to-box midfielders than like wingers. Dane-iel, however, is the defensive midfielder, providing cover when the other large midfielders make their occasional loping runs upfield.
Lineup and Score Predictions
Shipping two to Orange County was egregious, but I don’t think the Roots will do it at home. The Roots are due damn it (“doots”). Mfeka looked good against Sac, but I think Jon and I are seeing a different change to reflect that. I also think we get less rotation. I’d still rather we switch to back four, but maybe that’s never coming back. I think I said 2-1 Roots on the pod, and by god, I stand by my questionably remembered prediction.
My guess on the Roots starting 11 is that there will be some changes due to the short week, but not extensive. Taking some cues from Oakland’s last Wednesday-to-Saturday games, which was Loudoun on April 13 and San Diego on April 16, my prediction is the Juan Guerra will want to keep things similar without drastically changing things up. At this rate, it’s hard to take Karlsson out of the lineup while similarly it seems that Charlie Dennis has the fortitude to handle a brief amount of rest. Similar to the April 16 Loudoun match, I think Lindo Mfeka fills in for Darek Formella. In the midfield, I could see Mikael Johnsen getting rest and Matias Fissore getting the start. As for the back line, Alejandro Fuenmayor returns and Emrah Klimenta gets rest. In goal, I’ll think Benny Diaz is the No. 1 option until Guerra proves otherwise with his selection. As for my score prediction, I’m going 2-1 Roots with goals by Karlsson and Mfeka.
Until things change, I am going to predict the same old same old for Oakland. So, the expected lineup, and also a 1-1 draw, with Oakland’s goal coming courtesy of an Ottar spot kick. Personally, I think it’s time to mix things up a bit, though we’re talking about a short gameweek, and who knows if there’s time to do so. I remain on the “switch to a back 4” train, though I have no hope we’ll see it to start a game, at least. Barbir and Azocar both look in need of a rest, but it’s unclear if Guerra trusts anyone else to start. Lindo and Chuy both look like they deserve more minutes to me, but I think getting them on the pitch is going to require a shape shift, and, again, I don’t think that’s coming. So here we are again. I expect 60ish% possession and a bunch of near misses aside from the penalty.