Well, that sucked. Oakland Roots fell to Las Vegas Lights 2-0 on Saturday at Laney College, keeping Roots in ninth place with 28 points and pushing Lights up to seventh with 31. It marked the second time in four matches that Oakland went down to 10 men in the first half, this time with Paul Blanchette drawing a red card in the 43rd minute after rushing out past the penalty area and making contact with Cal Jennings. In addition, coach Juan Guerra was red carded before the match could even resume play at 45+1′. It was a frustrating night for The Town.
In Blanchette’s red card, the Roots’ keeper argued that he first touched the ball with his right leg before making contact with Jennings about five yards above the box–but there’s something about Oakland and not winning calls when in the refs’ hands. It resulted in Mikael Johnsen coming off for Taylor Bailey.
“Yeah, it was another good game from the team when it was 11 vs. 11. But the red card changed everything — we had to defend and we didn’t defend until they scored one. At 0-0 you can still be alive and then you can try and fight for at least a tie or a goal. It was difficult to manage. We switched to a 3-4-2 formation to press more and it kind of worked because we were playing near their goal. Not the way we like to play but a way that allowed us to be near their goal,” said assistant coach Marcos Reina.
The Roots will now have to play Wednesday’s match against Phoenix Rising without Guerra. It would’ve been the coach’s first chance to play his former team, which has been rumored to have interest in him as their next head coach after this season if Rick Schantz is shown the door.
“We will prepare for it as usual. Juan will be there at training so he will train us well — at the game he won’t be there but we’ll prepare the way we normally do, for an 11 vs. 11 game and we’ll get a result,” said Reina.
As Reina mentioned, Oakland was–for the most part–in control of the game up until the red. Aside from a couple of runs over the top, including Jennings’ in the 43rd, Las Vegas provided nothing overtly challenging.
Roots had the three clear looks in the first half. The first opportunity came in the 22nd when Juan Carlos Azocar sprung Darek Formella on the underlap, who centered a pass to Edgardo Rito, but his first-touch shot went wide. Azocar then had a shot saved after receiving a corner from Johnsen in the 24th, rocketing a shot to the keeper, but he was able to block the ball slightly to his right. Rito had a shot on target in the 35th after making a nice run down the right side, but Romero was in good position again.
LV had its first look in the 40th after Abraham Romero played a goal kick over the top to Danny Trejo, who was somehow five yards past Oakland’s last defender when receiving the pass. His shot, however, went to the left of net.
In the second half, Ottar Magnus Karlsson had a look at net in the 52nd after dribbling around his defenders, but his chip attempt was defended by Romero’s face. But before ESPN could even switch the camera operator back onto the field, Trejo scored for Las Vegas in the very next minute.
It was another long ball to Trejo, creating some separation from Emrah Klimenta and corralling the pass with his first touch and hitting a clean poke with his right foot for the goal.
Oakland struggled to create offensively in the second half while down a man and it wasn’t until after Las Vegas’ second goal–which was a free header by Tony Leone in the 73rd–that Roots had any shot attempts. Azocar had a long shot go wide in the 74th, Ottar had a run down by the end line deflected out for a corner.
And now, it’s table-watching season. With three more matches played than Las Vegas, four more than Sacramento in seventh, one more than Las Vegas in eighth, and three more than Phoenix in 10th, the missed points against Vegas certainly hurt the playoff outlook. It means that Roots must play themselves to a clean win against Rising to end their slate of July matches, and then watch the table over their two week break until Detroit City on August 13.
Vegas will play San Antonio (July 27), Atlanta United II (July 30), and Phoenix (Aug. 6) over their next three. Los Dos will have two matches over Roots’ break, San Antonio (July 31) and Loudoun (Aug. 7). Sacramento has three USL Championship matches during Oakland’s two weeks off; Charleston (July 31), New Mexico (Aug. 4), and RGV (Aug. 7). Phoenix, meanwhile, will play Colorado on (July 31) and face Vegas.
FotMob’s Top-10 Player Ratings
- Jose Hernandez, 7.5
In 90 minutes, Hernandez completed 41 of 50 passes, 5/10 long balls, seven passes into the final third, created two chances, had 2/3 successful dribbles, dribbled past one defender, won 1/1 tackle, 4/7 long balls, 1/2 aerial duels, three interceptions, seven recoveries, drew one foul, and finished with 60 total touches.
2. Darek Formella, 7.3
In 82 minutes, Formella recorded two shots with one on target and one blocked, completing 20 of 29 passes, 4/7 long balls, eight passes into the final third, created two chances, had 1/2 successful dribbles, won 2/2 tackles, 3/4 ground duels, two interceptions, two recoveries, and finished with 42 total touches.
3. Emrah Klimenta, 7.2
In 90 minutes, Klimenta completed 53 of 66 passes, 7/16 long balls, 12 passes into the final third, had 1/1 successful dribble, won 1/3 tackles, blocked three shots, one clearance by header, won 4/6 ground duels, 2/2 aerial duels, five interceptions, 11 recoveries, and finished with 92 total touches.
4. Edgardo Rito, 7.2
In 81 minutes, Rito recorded two shots with one on target and completed 22 of 31 passes, 1/2 crosses, 1/3 long balls, had 5/8 successful dribbles, dribbled past two defenders, won 4/6 tackles, 11/21 ground duels, 1/3 aerial duels, two clearances with one by header, two interceptions, seven recoveries, and finished with 66 total touches.
5. Alejandro Fuenmayor, 7.1
In 90 minutes, Fuenmayor recorded one shot and completed 55 of 67 passes, 12/21 long balls, 11 passes into the final third, had 1/1 successful dribble, won 2/4 tackles, 5/5 ground duels, 2/2 aerial duels, blocked one shot, one clearance, three interceptions, five recoveries, and finished with 83 total touches.
6. Juan Carlos Azocar, 6.8
In 90 minutes, Azocar recorded two shots with one blocked, and completed 20 of 24 passes, 1/1 long ball, three passes into the final third, took one corner, had 1/1 successful dribble, dribbled past one defender, won 1/1 tackle, 3/7 ground duels, 1/5 aerial duels, four clearances with one by header, seven interceptions, six recoveries, drew one foul, and finished with 53 total touches.
7. Matias Fissore, 6.6
In 81 minutes, Fissore recorded one shot and completed 25 of 28 passes, 3/3 long balls, two passes into the final third, dribbled past one defender, won 1/1 tackle, 2/3 ground duels, one interception, seven recoveries, drew one foul, and finished with 35 total touches.
8. Taylor Bailey, 6.5
In 45 minutes, Bailey recorded three saves with one by diving and one inside the box, completing 4/12 passes, 2/10 long balls, four throws, eight recoveries, and finished with 23 total touches.
9. Danny Barbir, 6.1
In 68 minutes, Barbir completed 23 of 34 passes, 2/7 long balls, six passes into the final third, had 2/2 successful dibbles, dribbled past one defender, won 3/9 ground duels, 1/2 aerial duels, one clearance, two interceptions, three recoveries, drew one foul, and finished with 53 total touches.
10. Mikael Johnsen, 6.1
In 45 minutes, Johnsen completed 12 of 14 passes, 1/4 crosses, one pass into the final third, took three corners, created two chances, won 1/1 aerial duel, one interception, one recovery, and finished with 22 total touches.