The Oakland Roots walk out of Monterey Bay FC’s Cardinale Stadium with three points in a 2-nil win, improving itself to eighth place on the table. Letting out a sigh of relief was head coach Juan Guerra as he approached for our postgame interview after Roots killed the game with a goal by Darek Formella at 90+2′.
It closes a mightily productive week with seven points in the last three and extends its unbeaten run to six games
“I said that the week finishes today, the boys got the job done. We finished the week strong with three points on the road and I’m happy to get a win on the road… The guys took care of the job tonight, I’m going to go into the locker room and congratulate them because it wasn’t an easy week. The guys did a great job, and now we have to keep pushing forward and understand that we have a lot left to go. We put ourselves in a better position to start next week, and as I always tell you, I’m already thinking of RGV,” said Guerra.
Traveling to Monterey was a visiting sect of an estimated 400 Roots supporters, which will likely be a number not topped by any team this season. The players clearly felt the energy at Cardinale Stadium; Guerra, reiterating The Function’s chant, acknowledged that it felt like a home game.
“When you see this with 400 of our fans coming to support and push, it means a lot. It makes me understand the responsibility that we have a bit more. When you put on this crest and represent this organization that has so many people who love it, it’s a big responsibility for us,” said Guerra.
“This is unbelievable, man. It’s a responsibility we have to represent this organization and everyone who supports us day in and day out. How we get the support this way when we’re not at our best, I can only imagine how things can get when we get to where we want to be.”
The victory gave Oakland its second consecutive clean sheet to start its first win streak of the season. Guerra mentions that “keeping the zero” was the team’s mission on Saturday with the players emphasizing the clean sheet prior to match time.
“The importance of keeping the zero playing away is key, they knew it. I said it to them, but they even wrote it on the board in the locker room, they took the responsibility to understand that we’re going to keep the zero because we’re a team that takes chances. Tonight, we created chances, and played well offensive and defensively,” said Guerra.
Although Monterey was missing some usual starters, they came into the match in a strong run of form with multi-goal wins against Louisville City and Colorado Springs. Despite Oakland having tired legs on the pitch with three games in the last week, you couldn’t tell any fatigue was taking place.
“I’m happy. We came out to play against a team that is doing a very good job and were able to impose our identity in front of our people… We played a good team on a clear ascending curve. Our boys did a great job, it was the third game this week, and a lot of minutes under the legs. Physically and mentally, obviously, we were tired. But I told them, ‘We cannot be tired.’ Look at our supporters, when you have this behind you, you cannot be tired. Now, the job is done, they can shower, rest, and start thinking about RGV,” said Guerra.
Oakland improved from 10th to eighth place in the table with a 4-7-4 record. They are just three points back of third but have played three more matches than third-place New Mexico, two more than San Diego and Pheonix in third and fourth, and three more than Sacramento in seventh. The Roots overtook RGV and Los Angeles with the win and could separate itself from the Toros next Saturday at Laney.
“We have to keep pushing. We have a long, long way to go. We have to keep pushing and demanding excellence out of the staff and out of the boys. Tonight, we enjoy the week is done and we got three points. But now I’m going to download the RGV game and start thinking about what we need to do to get those three points we missed out in the first game of the season,” said Guerra.
Earning RootsBlog’s Man of the Match was Edgardo Rito for scoring his goal in the 21st minute. In the buildup, Ottar Magnus Karlsson sent a ball toward Mikael Johnsen, who shouldered a pass to Charlie Dennis. The English forward flicked a pass back to Johnsen, sending a right-footed pass on the volley over the defense to Rito charging toward the net.
Rito was a consistent problem for Monterey throughout the night, often finding himself with acres of space by leaving his defender in the dust.
“Rito keeps improving game-after-game. I was worried about some of the players tonight because it’s the third game this week and I wanted to see how they would react. But these guys left it all on the field, they had to do it in order to get the three points. You guys saw what they did, not just Rito, but all the 18 players who are here. They were all focused on pushing in one direction,” said Guerra of Rito.
Oakland wasn’t able to find the final goal until Karlsson got his first assist in a Roots uniform when finding Darek Formella charging in the box at 90+2′–marking their sixth goal of the year in second-half stoppage time. It killed the game left, but Guerra admits they were hoping to put the match away earlier.
“We created goal-scoring opportunities the way we had worked on them, that’s important to see the guys executing what we’re working on in training. That means that we keep developing. If you ask me, I would’ve liked to put the game away earlier because Monterey was never done, they were not dead until we scored that last-minute goal. We’re keeping teams alive for too long while creating the amount of chances that we are. Again, we’re working on taking care of the zero, set pieces, and putting teams away earlier,” said Guerra.
The Roots finished with eight shot attempts with four on target, six inside the box, and two big chances converted. Monterey also had eight shots, but only had one attempt on target, which was a misdirected shot in the 51st by James Murphy that was saved by Diaz. There was a nervous moment in the 85th when Robbie Crawford had an attempt trail wide. Oakland now gets a week of rest before hosting RGV Toros next Saturday, June 11, at Laney College.
“Every game for us from now until November is critical and is considered a Final. For us, the next game is the most important game of the season and that’s how it’s going to be all the way to November. The boys embrace that responsibility and enjoy it. It feels good to win to fix areas while we are winning,” Guerra mentioned.
FotMob Top-10 Player Ratings
- Edgardo Rito, 8.1
In 90 minutes, Rito scored once with his only shot on target and completed 29 of 43 passes, 2/6 long balls, created one chance, 1/4 successful dribbles, won 1/4 ground duels, 1/2 aerial duels, two clearances by header, six recoveries, and finished with 64 total touches.
2. Mikael Johnsen, 7.5
In 82 minutes, Johnsen recorded one assist, two shots with one on target, completing 15 of 22 passes, one chance created, 2/4 successful dribbles, won 1/3 tackles, 5/10 ground duels, two recoveries, and finished with 38 total touches.
3. Tarek Morad, 7.5
In 90 minutes, Morad completed 107 of 112 passes, 12/15 long balls, blocked one shot, three clearances with two by header, won 1/3 ground duels, 4/5 aerial duels, one interception, seven recoveries, drew one foul, and finished with 120 total touches.
4. Danny Barbir, 7.3
In 90 minutes, Barbir had one shot and completed 64 of 74 passes, 6/10 long balls, dribbled past two defenders, won 1/1 tackle, 2/6 ground duels, one clearance, 11 recoveries, drew one foul, and finished with 85 total touches.
5. Matias Fissore, 7.2
In 89 minutes, Fissore recorded one shot and completed 38 of 53 passes, 3/8 long balls, dribbled past two defenders, won 1/1 tackle, 5/10 ground duels, 3/6 aerial duels, three interceptions, four recoveries, drew four fouls, and finished with 64 total touches.
6. Benny Diaz, 7.1
In 90 minutes, Diaz recorded one save and completed 38 of 44 passes, 7/13 long balls, seven throws, one high claim, eight recoveries, and 55 total touches.
7. Ottar Magnus Karlsson, 7.0
In 90 minutes, Karlsson recorded one assist and one shot on target, completing 14 of 22 passes, 1/1 cross, 1/1 long ball, created one chance, 1/3 successful dribbles, won 1/1 tackle, 2/12 ground duels, two clearances by header, two recoveries, and finished with 39 total touches.
8. Juan Carlos Azocar, 6.9
In 90 minutes, Azocar completed 31 of 36 passes, 2/4 long balls, took one corner, created one chance, won 2/6 ground duels, 2/2 aerial duels, two clearances with one by header, two recoveries, drew one foul, and finished with 55 total touches.
9. Jose Hernandez, 6.7
In 90 minutes, Hernandez completed 38 of 43 passes, dribbled past one defender, won 5/10 ground duels, one clearance, two interceptions, two recoveries, drew five fouls, and finished with 58 total touches.
10. Lindo Mfeka, 6.6
In 14 minutes, Mfeka completed seven of nine passes, 1/1 long ball, 1/1 successful dribble, won 1/1 tackle, 2/2 ground duels, one recovery, and finished with 11 total touches.
Honorable Mention: Darek Formella [FotMob rating not listed]
In eight minutes, Formella scored once with his only shot attempt, completed 1/1 pass, 1/2 successful dribbles, won 1/1 tackle, 3/4 ground duels, 1/1 aerial duel, one interception, two recoveries, drew one foul, and finished with eight total touches.