Your Oakland Roots are hosted by Phoenix Rising at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Wild Horse Pass in the vicinity of Phoenix, Arizona. The match will be broadcast on KTVU Plus and ESPN+. A list of bars that have committed to broadcasting the game can be found here. In the exclusive patreon-supporters-only part of the podcast this week (what Aaron cuts and deletes from his computer hopefully never to be heard by anyone), we were discussing that we have only ever made it to Ale Industries and will continue probably going to Ale Industries if we can even get up the will to leave the couch.
A Look Around the Western Conference
Well, it’s not my favorite that the Roots are in 11th, even if they are somehow ten points off of 4th. With six games to go, if the Roots get results they can get themselves into the playoffs. They really need to get those results.
We last saw Phoenix for a thrilling 0-0 draw in Oakland in late July. Rising followed that up with a 4-0 thrashing of Colorado Springs in Phoenix and then went immediately back to their middling form with a draw at home to Vegas and a loss away to Orange County, for old times’ sake. Then Rising hired a new manager and did their form turn around? Sort of!
EL Paso’s first two both came with a player down from uncalled takeout tackles right outside the penalty box. The commentator said the second was advantage, but I think it might have just not been called a foul. El Paso’s third was a solid header off of beautiful service. Phoenix pulled one back on a Ryan Flood screamer a minute after El Paso’s third.
Rising got the action started in the 15th with Baboucarr Njie sending Santi Moar to the goal line, who pulled back a great little lofted pass right to Luis Seijas who had ghosted his man and was alone for the emphatic header just goal-side of the penalty spot. RGV would take one back on a catastrophic defensive mistake by Rising, a familiar feeling for the new manager. GK Ben Lundt played a pass into space, trying to lead James Musa forward, but Musa was on his heels and the Toros forward pounced, nipped the ball off of Musa’s heels, and then tucked it away at the far post (Ricky Lopez-Espin’s Commentary: “Ah Geez”). If Seijas’ first was the product of great teamwork, his second was all his own. Phoenix forced a turnover in the 67th and some guy tried to maraud into the box, drawing in three Toros, one of whom managed to poke the ball out, but it feel straight to Seijas who laced in a low bouncing shot from at least 25 yards that the Toros keeper just could not get to.
Phoenix’s best result recently was their 4-0 win over Colorado Springs, and I’m sure that they rolled into this one hoping for the same. Lol. Colorado Springs, resplendent in their gender reveal confetti kits, scored the game’s only goal in the 55th minute on (stop me if you’ve heard this) a weird defensive lapse resulting in a totally uncovered forward in for an easy goal. Phoenix put together an inspiring five yellow cards on the evening, including two for Darnell King, who will miss the match against Oakland.
|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|
|6/15||New Mexico United||Home||L||1||2|
|6/22||Five Shades of Gray, F.C.||Away||D||1||1|
|7/01||“The Two” but California||Away||L||1||3|
|7/16||More like Ex Paso, Right? Is that a thing? What about Lol Paso?||Home||W||4||0|
|7/23||AFC Pure Uncut Nevada Chaos||Home||L||0||2|
|8/24||Pweese No Steppy||Away||W||3||1|
|8/27||Elk Grove Republic||Away||L||0||1|
|9/4||San Antonio All Grays||Home||L||0||2|
San Antonio are very good. I penciled us in for zero points from the last three, and I know that I should be happy with three points, and I am a little happy with three points. It is frustrating that that run ended with the performance against San Antonio, because that was not an inspiring performance.
The first for San Antonio came in only the fourth minute on a beautiful arced pass from Mohammed Abu finding Adeniran on the wrong side of Tarek Morad in the box. Adeniran still had a lot to do, controlling with one foot, and then making an off-balance finish with his other foot. Our good friend Harry of S.A. Soccer Roundtable had highlighted Abu as a sneaky big contributor to this San Antonio team and he was fully vindicated here, that pass was excellent. Rito got free on a good run in the 44th, but I think knowing there was not a great trailing run, the defense and keeper shunted him to the goal line and he was unable to make the finish that would have been required. He tried to go five hole and I think his better option was to chip the keeper (but to be fair, he had very little time to make that decision). It took San Antonio just shy of 85 minutes to put the game totally to bed, which Adeniran did with what might have been a great shot and a great save, but we’ll never know because it took a horribly unlucky redirection from Klimenta and trickled into the net.
Players to Watch
Last time around, I skipped my players to watch section. So here we go:
Aodhan Quinn #14 – Quinn appears to captain this team when Darnell King is out, which he should be for the match against the Roots. Quinn is from San Diego, but before you get too worked up about the spelling of his name, he is at least the son of a guy from Belfast (Brian Quinn–who was an Everton reserve and then played some years in American including a while for the San Diego Sockers <ooof> that name). Jayden is a pure central midfielder, but has produced five goals and six assists this season, none of his goals on penalties. Quinn played for the pre-MLS Orlando City SC, two seasons with Louisville City, the pre-MLS FC Cincinnati, and then several seasons for Orange County before moving over to Phoenix for last season.
Luis Seijas #18 – An alternate for team of the week this week, presumably on account of his brace against RGV, 36-year-old Venezuelan midfielder Seijas has contributed seven goals on the season, although before his brace on August 31, his last contribution was an assist on May 28. I am struggling to find how many caps Seijas has for Venezuela, but he definitely has some. Most recently in the 2019 Copa America quarter-finals where he was a late sub in a 2-0 loss to an Argentina squad that started Leandro Paredes, Sergio Aguero, Nicolas Otamendi, Lautaro Martinez, and Lionel Messi.
Baboucarr Njie #6 – We all know how much Juan Guerra loves his wing backs. Njie played four years as a North Carolina Wesleyan Battling Bishop, then a season with ATL 2, then played for RGV last season, where he made 26 appearances but only 12 starts. He has 17 starts for Phoenix this season, and in particular has started every game since Guerra took over, including the full 90 for the last two. Njie typically plays opposite Darnell King, who we mentioned above should be out for this game. At 6’1″, Njie is towering as a leftback.
Santi Moar #7 – Moar is not having the kind of season he has had in the past, with only one goal and four assists, even though he has not missed a significant amount of time. Probably means he’s going to have a worldy against the Roots. Prick.
Lineup and Score Predictions
There is a little bit of wish-casting to my formation prediction here, but I thought I would put on paper what I was calling for on RootsPod this week. I think our defense might ultimately be better with Diaz in than with a third centerback, but I don’t really want to see Azocar off the pitch. I would be basically 50/50 on Fuenmayor versus Morad, but Morad pulled up with some muscle tightness on San Antonio’s second goal last week, so I have put in Fuenmayor. I have no reason to think Morad is really hurt, though. If you made me put money down, I would predict Noah Delgado sticks with the formation he has been running out (but with Hernandez back in), but I would not be surprised if this is the game where enough time has past for Delgado to think he can try something new.
The Roots played with fire against San Diego in their first game under Delgado, but I don’t think fire was enough to beat Sac or San Antonio. I think that fire is back for this one. 2-1 Roots.
I’m going with the familiar lineup of Charlie Dennis back at right wing, Mikael Johnsen at left, and the midfield rotation of Jose Hernandez and Matias Fissore. I’d certainly love to see a new wrinkle like Peter mentions above, or Lindo Mfeka getting a second consecutive start. I could also see Darek Formella in at left wing, but I still feel like Johnsen still provides an X-Factor. My score prediction, Oakland comes out firey and powers its way to a 2-nil win.
Editor’s Note: Scrawled on the underside of my coffee table this morning was simply “3-1 Rots,” which I assume was a typo.