That was arguably the biggest win of the season for Oakland Roots, coming back from a 1-nil deficit to win 3-1 over San Diego Loyal with goals by Juan Carlos Azocar, Emrah Klimenta, and the dagger by Edgardo Rito in the 88th minute. All of the odds were stacked against interim head coach Noah Delgado and co.; former coach Juan Guerra bounced less than a week before the game, they played against the second-place team in the Western Conference and highest scoring team in the league, and were without leading scorer Ottar Magnus Karlsson. Despite all of this, Roots triumphed.
The videos afterward were fantastic.
It was an amazing debut for Delgado. The victory gives Oakland their second road win of the season, which gives Delgado as many as his predecessor. We named him Honorable Mention for RootsBlog’s Man of the Match for all of the circumstances playing against him and managing the squad to a victory. They accomplished what the team struggled to do while under Guerra, which was solidifying three points after succumbing to losses or ties eight times from a winning position up to this point.
Earning our official RootsBlog Man of the Match award was Paul Blanchette for recording nine saves and keeping Oakland in the match with monumental dives and punches on frequent San Diego attacks. He had critical stops in the 10th minute, the 50th, 53rd, 56th, and in second-half stoppage time.
Look at the Oakland 68s celebrating his awesomeness in this GIF below.
The win puts Oakland in eighth place, tied for points with Los Angeles Galaxy II at 30 but ahead on goal differential. Roots are just one point behind seventh-place El Paso Locomotive and the playoff line, holding one game in hand on the Texas club. It also separates them from Phoenix and Monterey Bay by four points.
San Diego started strong with a goal in the 24th minute when Tumi Moshobane flicked a pass to Kyle Vassell running in behind. Vassell’s shot was saved by Blanchette, but it rebounded straight to Evan Conway for the easy goal.
But Roots came back with a vengeance, requiring just four minutes to tie when Charlie Dennis sent a beautiful longball to Juan Carlos Azocar charging in the box to uncork a left footed shot past the keeper. And then 10 minutes later in the 28th, Oakland struck again to pull ahead 2-1 when Azocar’s shot attempt deflected off of a defender opportunely to Emrah Klimenta for the header goal.
It marked Klimenta’s third goal in a Roots uniform. He bagged his first against Sacramento back in October 2021 and scored again versus Loudoun on April 16.
You could see what it meant to him and the club when he ran straight to the Roots’ bench to celebrate with his teammates and Delgado.
In the second half, it was more of Blanchette’s stellar work in goal. He stopped Vassell in a one-on-one situation in the 50th to force a corner. He followed by pushing away another ball on the doorstep after a corner in the 53rd, but his largest stop came three minutes later in the 56th. In the buildup, Conway was sprung down the right side and was able to pull off a shot through traffic, slightly deflecting off of Morad and changing director. Diving to his right, Blanchette made the save to force another corner.
In the 61st, Delgado made a tactical shift to try and solidify the win, switching off Mikael Johnsen for Memo Diaz to sit in a 5-4-1 formation. Roots sat deeper, but were still able to hit on the counter attack while limiting looks at the net.
It led to the finishing goal to kill the game in the 88th minute after San Diego drew a set piece on the left side of the field outside of the area. After Emrah defended the ball in, it trickled to Memo Diaz–who instinctively turned the ball up field by sending a long pass toward Rito, running alone.
One-on-one with the keeper, Rito slotted it home to send Oakland back to Northern California with three points in hand.
Roots and Loyal have now played six times in their existence with Oakland having considerable ownage on the SoCal club at 3-2-1. San Diego’s only win against Roots was 1-0 in June of 2021 in their first game against each other.
Oakland looks ahead to a critical derby match with Sacramento this Saturday at Heart Health Park. Multiple sources confirm that The Function is about to turn the fuck up in Sactown.
FotMob Top-10 Player Ratings
- Emrah Klimenta, 8.3
In 90 minutes, Klimenta scored once with two shots on target, completing 26 of 34 passes, 2/7 long balls, eight passes into the final third, won 3/4 tackles, 4/6 ground duels, blocked two shots, two clearances by header, one interception, six recoveries, and finished with 51 total touches.
2. Paul Blanchette, 8.3
In 90 minutes, Blanchette was credited with nine saves with five by dives and four stops on shots inside the box, completing 14 of 27 passes, 9/22 long balls, five throws, 12 recoveries, and finished with 46 total touches.
3. Edgardo Rito, 8.1
In 90 minutes, Rito scored once with two shots on target and completed 13 of 20 passes, 2/3 long balls, four passes into the final third, had 2/2 successful dribbles, won 1/1 tackle, 3/6 ground duels, two interceptions, five recoveries, and finished with 38 total touches.
4. Charlie Dennis, 7.9
In 73 minutes, Dennis recorded one assist and one shot attempt that was blocked, completing 20 of 26 passes, 2/4 crosses, 3/4 long balls, four passes into the final third, took two corners, created three chances, dribbled past one defender, won 1/1 tackles, 4/7 ground duels, 4/8 aerial duels, three clearances with two by header, three recoveries, drew three fouls, and finished with 47 total touches.
5. Matias Fissore, 7.8
In 73 minutes, Fissore recorded one assist and completed 17 of 27 passes, 2/9 long balls, nine passes into the final third, created one chance, had 1/1 successful dribble, dribbled past one defender, won 1/2 tackles, 3/5 ground duels, two clearances, one interception, four recoveries, and finished with 41 total touches.
6. Juan Carlos Azocar, 7.7
In 90 minutes, Azocar scored once and recorded three shots with one on target and two blocked, completing 17 of 20 passes, created one chance, had 1/1 successful dribble, dribbled past one defender, won 1/1 tackle, 2/8 ground duels, 1/2 aerial duels, blocked one shot, one clearance by header, four recoveries, and finished with 36 total touches.
7. Alejandro Fuenmayor, 7.7
In 90 minutes, Fuenmayor completed 28 of 41 passes,9/16 long balls, six passes into the final third, had 1/1 successful dribble, won 2/3 tackles, 5/7 ground duels, 2/2 aerial duels, five clearances, three interceptions, six recoveries, drew one foul, and finished with 59 total touches.
8. Darek Formella, 7.3
In 90 minutes, Formella completed 32 of 35 passes, 3/3 long balls, five passes into the final third, created two chances, had 1/1 successful dribble, won 3/4 ground duels, three clearances with two by header, three recoveries, drew two fouls, and finished with 47 total touches.
9. Tarek Morad, 7.3
In 90 minutes, Morad completed 32 of 34 passes, 4/4 long balls, four passes into the final third, won 1/1 tackle, won 4/5 ground duels, blocked one shot, four clearances with two by header, two interceptions, five recoveries, drew three fouls, and finished with 51 total touches.
10. Memo Diaz, 7.2
In 29 minutes, Diaz recorded one assist and completed 4 of 5 passes, 3/3 long balls, two passes into the final third, created one chance, won 1/1 ground duel, one recovery, and finished with nine total touches.