A full week off from Roots soccer leaving you listless and adrift? Worry not, Roots Fam, Roots kick off another three-game week hosting RGV Toros tonight, June 11 at 7:00 p.m. at Laney College. Roots are heating up, and look to continue that form against the South Texas team. The match will be broadcast on ESPN+, but you should be at Laney to jeer Ted Cruz.
This is the best I could do:
The Roots will face all Western Conference teams twice each, and this will already wrap their season series against fellow 2021 playoff underdog RGV Toros. I wrote up a look at the team when the Roots traveled to South Texas for their first game of the season.
I spent the first half of this week at my parents’ house in Mobile, Alabama and it was ungodly hot and I ended up having to work like 10-hour days every day. There’s no joke here. Really happy to be home with, roughly in order: Dr. RootsBlog, my dog, California weather, Roots soccer, and my second monitor.
|3/12||God’s Own Oakland Damn Roots||Home||W||1||0|
|3/23||La Galaxy II||Away||L||0||1|
|4/15||Red Bulls II||Away||W||1||0|
|6/04||La Galaxy II||Home||L||0||2|
RGV hosted San Antonio off of two straight wins against California teams, and was already down 2-1 when Erik Pimentel made an outrageous tackle on the edge of RGV’s own box for a straight red.
I don’t think there’s much to read into the two goals that came after the red card. The goals before that show an RGV team that can threaten, but an RGV defense that is susceptible to major errors.
RGV then traveled to Kennesaw, Georgia to face the Atlanta United B team.
Atlanta II have the worst defense in the USL, conceding nearly 2.5 goals per game. They also are the sixth worst offense, averaging exactly 1 goal per game. Scoring four goals isn’t nothing, but this result should not be that alarming for a Roots’ fan trying to assess RGV. Emilio Ycaza’s opener is pretty dope, you can see why our buddy Edson was excited about him preseason. Adolfo (?!?) Hernandez doubled Toros’ lead on another banger, although most of the excitement on the play came from the scorching pass from Isidro Martinez. Atlanta converted a penalty in the first half, and then equalized in the 50th on a complete failure to clear the ball by RGV. Atlanta went ahead in the 65th on a pretty well-worked goal that is less embarrassing than the second. Robert Coronado picked up a 15-minute brace, both on some questionable defending by Atlanta, to secure RGV the 13 points.
This past weekend, RGV hosted Galaxy II.
RGV had a goal called off for offside in the 33rd and I cannot tell you why on the replay. Las Vegas-esque camera work basically denies us the full-speed view of LA’s go-ahead goal behind Preston Judd in the 48th. RGV had some good and some great opportunities late, but could not convert. Jose Francisco Torres went full Granit Xhaka with the second-half substitution and red card, so we will not be seeing him this weekend.
|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|
|6/4||Monterey Bay Union Football Club of Seaside, California||Away||W||2||0|
Roots traveled on down to Santa Cruz like a family on their way to meet their murderous doppelgangers, but like same family, came out on top.
In the 21st a sexy passage of passing ended with Mikael Johnsen putting a looping cross right to the feet of the charging Rito who just had to jab the ball past the keeper to give the Roots the lead. The Roots looked the better team basically throughout the game (although Diaz had to make a huge save in the 51st), but it took another seventy to ice the game. Mfeka sprung Karlsson on a quick break down the right, and Karlsson’s long low cross exactly split the defense and the keeper, finding Formella to tuck away the game-icing goal.
Almost as important: Roots traveling support SHOWED UP.
I was bummed not to be there, but it was awesome to hear the traveling support on the TV broadcast.
How the Roots Stack Up
That win took the Roots to 8th an 19 points and their first positive goal differential of the season. Karlsson remains the team (and league) goal leader on ten, with the wingbacks and Formella tied behind him on three apiece. Johnsen and Rito share the team lead with three assists with no one else above one. Given his late arrival, that puts Johnsen 6th in USL in Assists/90 with 0.67. Fotmob has Karlsson as the highest rated player, followed by Rito and Azocar basically tied, and Klimenta close behind, and that all basically checks out with me. I don’t know why Juan benched Klimenta for so long, but the team has looked better with him in it. Jose Hernandez is tied on 5th for yellow cards (but it’s like a 10-way tie). Charlie Dennis is tied for second in the league for fouls committed.
Players to Watch
In my first preview I highlighted Erik Pimentel (CB #4) and Emilio Ycaza (CM #8). Sure enough, Ycaza is on four goals, tied for the team lead. I think we might not see Pimentel, who has not appeared since his red card. If it was a three-game suspension, I think this would be the third game. So I’m going to highlight two other guys.
Isidro Martinez #6 – central midfielder Isidro Martinez is a native of Brownsville, Texas, on the Gulf Coast 65 miles east of Edinburg, where RGV Toros call home. Martinez was a standout high school player in Brownsville, played college ball at UT RGV including some appearances for USL Development team South Georgia Tormenta (before its move to USL League 1). Martinez played two years at RGV Toros, spent last year with NMU, and has now returned to RGV. Martinez has four assists on the season, including two in a man of the match performance when RGV fell to Colorado Springs. Martinez also had the beautiful assist for the second goal in RGV’s win over Atlanta, the highlights of which I posted above.
Frank Lopez #9 – 27-year-old Cuban striker Lopez defected to the United States in October 2015 during the CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying Championship with three of his teammates. In 2017 he signed with Galaxy II, and has bounced around, including loans to Sac and RGV in 2020 and 2021, before signing a permanent contract with RGV for this season. Lopez’s game time has tapered in recent weeks, and he has not scored since mid-April, but he has appeared off the bench for significant minutes in each of the last two games. Lopez scored the winner in the Roots’ trip to H-E-B Park to start the season.
Lineup and Score Predictions
Roots appear to be trending up, and I think that RGV is treading water or maybe slipping a little. That win against ATL 2 does not impress me much, even if it was on the road, and I think a 1-0 home loss to Galaxy II is not great either. RGV are prone to mistakes, and I think that the Roots are increasingly a team that forces mistakes. Karlsson hasn’t scored in 10 days and I assume that is eating him up inside. Likewise, Formella is no longer hurting like he was before last Saturday. One of those two things should result in goals. I said Roots 2-1 on RootsPod, but if you made me pick something else I’d pick 3-1.
With a week’s rest, my guess is that Juan Guerra wants to get a look at (what I believe) is his current first-choice lineup. Johnsen looked great in a forward spot in for Darek Formella’s against Monterey Bay, but I think the alterations for last Saturday were due to a short week of rest. So, I’m slotting Johnsen back into the midfield alongside Jose Hernandez, while Charlie Dennis and Formella accompany Karlsson up top. With the back line, it seems that Emrah Klimenta is locking down a spot as the right-side CB–so my guess is he continues there. As for the score, I said on RootsPod 3-1 for Oakland and I’m sticking to it. Guerra and co. will undoubtedly have a focus on “keeping the zero,” but RGV looks pretty good going forward. A 3-1 win would make a rockin’ Deep Roots section–go get it boys!
Lineup wise, I am in total agreement with Jon, so just scroll up a tad for my lineup prediction. I don’t know that I agree that it is our best lineup, but I do agree that the people in charge of actually picking the lineup think it is our best lineup at the moment. If I were in charge you’d definitely see Nane patrolling the midfield, as I think we need another guy to help deal with set pieces, and a link between the back line and the attackers. On the other hand, I have no doubt that this crew has the firepower to outscore RGVFC which, at the end of the day is what matters.
As we discussed on the Pod, these are two teams who seem primed to exploit each other’s defensive frailties (and each side has a bunch of exploitable flaws in defense). So this seems like a game fit for a high-scoring draw, or a high-scoring 1-goal win for either side. But every time I think we’ll see a lot of goals, the game ends up low-scoring, so I’m going 2-1 to the Roots.