Wasn’t that a sweet win, RootsFam?
Oakland Roots kept their playoff hopes alive on Saturday night on the road, defeating Phoenix Rising 2-nil thanks to a pair of goals by Lindo Mfeka in the fifth and 27th minutes. Aside from continuing in the playoff hunt, the victory came against former coach Juan Guerra’s side and effectively ended PRFC’s postseason aspirations. It gives interim head coach Noah Delgado his second career road wins as a manager, whereas Guerra has one.
The videos from last night say a thousand words:
Oakland’s three points means there is now a three-way tie at 36 points in eighth place between Roots, RGV, and Los Angeles. Las Vegas and Monterey Bay’s match was postponed due to unplayable field conditions, meaning Vegas still has 37 points in seventh place and Monterey Bay is in 11th with 35. Of the group, Vegas and Toros hold a game in hand on Roots while Monterey has two.
It was quite the resurgence for Mfeka. It marked hist first goals of the year and his second career two-goal game in a Roots uniform. In fact, last night’s game nearly marked a full year since he last scored for Oakland–which was another two goal performance against Tacoma Defiance on September 16, 2021.
Lindo battled a nagging foot/ankle injury for the majority of the season and also missed the end of 2021 with the same issue. It marked his second consecutive start and 16th appearance this year.
His left-footed shot in the fifth minute was a rocket. In the buildup, the ball worked to Alejandro Fuenmayor moments after a corner, playing it to Mfeka. Darek Formella made a timely run to push Santi Moar back and open up space for Lindo to uncork a low-liner through the defense and into the back of the net.
Mfeka struck again in the 27th minute with beautiful one-touch passing just seconds after Phoenix Rising had a shot clang off of the woodwork. This time, Juan Carlos Azocar played a ball to Lindo, who sent it to Ottar Magnus Karlsson on his first touch. Karlsson instinctively sent a pass back to Mfeka, also on the Big Fucking Viking’s first touch, springing the South African free to flick one over the head of Ben Lundt with his right foot.
We named Lindo our RootsBlog Man of the Match.
It could’ve easily been 3- or 4-nil in that first half with a pair of chances on the doorstep for Roots that didn’t skip into net. In the seventh minute, Edgardo Rito had a nice run into the box and played a centering pass to Formella unmarked a couple of feet in front of the goal, but the ball skipped the wrong way off of his back foot. Seconds later, Fuenmayor kept an attempted clearance by Joe Farrell in Oakland’s attacking area, leading to Baboucarr Njie errantly skying one. The ball landed to Formella in the box, whose attempted shot deflected off of a defender and to Rito on the doorstep–but he somehow couldn’t push the ball in for a goal.
In the second half, Oakland had a couple of chances and a few breaks on the counter attack. The most overtly challenging where a pair of attempts by Karlsson in the 80th when a header went wide and in the 85th when an attempt from a tough angle near the net. Johnny Rodriguez also had a shot blocked out for a corner in stoppage time. However, what was perhaps most impressive in the closing 45 minutes was Roots’ defensive stability.
Aside from a shot by Njie that nearly exploded the crossbar in the 60th minute, Rising struggled to create open looks. Phoenix closed the day with 14 shots but had just one on target and a big chance missed despite holding 67 percent of possession. Roots blocked five of their shot attempts on the night.
It’s also worth mentioning that Oakland didn’t come out of the match unscathed. Captain Emrah Klimenta appears to have suffered a knee injury when exiting in the 74th minute, while Matias Fissore was subbed out in the 65th. Roots were also without Tarek Morad on Saturday–who was not out for card accumulation (he has six)–so the center back rotation will be something to keep an eye on going into September 17 against New York Red Bulls II.
At 8-12-9, Roots have just five matches left to solidify a playoff berth with Red Bulls II visiting next Saturday, followed by at Colorado Springs (Sep. 24), hosting Birmingham Legion for the Laney College finale (Oct. 1), at Hartford (Oct. 8), and at Pittsburgh for the season-finale (Oct. 15).
FotMob Top-10 Ratings
- Lindo Mfeka, 8.8
In 66 minutes, Mfeka scored twice with two shots on target, completing 11 of 15 passes, two passes into the final third, created one chance, dribbled past two defenders, won 1/4 ground duels, one clearance, two recoveries, drew one foul, and finished with 26 total touches.
2. Alejandro Fuenmayor, 8.4
In 90 minutes, Fuenmayor recorded one assist and completed 27 of 36 passes, 2/8 long balls, six passes into the final third, created one chance, won 4/4 tackles, 4/6 ground duels, blocked two shots, seven clearances with three by header, three interceptions, six recoveries, and finished with 54 total touches.
3. Ottar Magnus Karlsson, 7.8
In 90 minutes, Karlsson recorded one assist and three shots with one blocked, completing 15 of 22 passes, 1/2 long balls, one pass into the final third, created three chances, had 1/3 successful dribbles, won 8/18 ground duels, 2/5 aerial duels, one clearance by header, two interceptions, five recoveries, drew seven fouls, and finished with 45 total touches.
4. Charlie Dennis, 7.6
In 90 minutes, Dennis recorded one shot and completed 22 of 25 passes, 4/8 crosses, 1/3 long balls, four passes into the final third, took seven corners, created two chances, dribbled past one defender, won 1/3 tackles, won 4/5 ground duels, one clearance by header, one interception, six recoveries, drew one foul, and finished with 43 total touches.
5. Darek Formella, 7.4
In 89 minutes, Formella recorded two shots with one blocked, completing 28 of 34 passes, 1/2 crosses, 1/2 long balls, two passes into the final third, created one chance, had 2/3 successful dribbles, dribbled past three defenders, won 1/1 tackle, 3/11 ground duels, 1/2 aerial duels, one interception, 10 recoveries, and finished with 49 total touches.
6. Danny Barbir, 7.1
In 90 minutes, Barbir completed 18 of 22 passes, 4/7 long balls, five passes into the final third, dribbled past one defender, won 1/1 tackle, 1/2 ground duels, 1/1 aerial duel, one clearance by header, two interceptions, one recovery, and finished with 32 total touches.
7. Emrah Klimenta, 7.1
In 74 minutes, Klimenta recorded one shot that was blocked and completed 15 of 17 passes, 2/3 long balls, won 1/1 tackle, 2/2 ground duels, blocked one shot, one clearance, one interception, three recoveries, drew one foul, and finished with 24 total touches.
8. Juan Carlos Azocar, 7.0
In 89 minutes, Azocar recorded one shot that was blocked and completed 17 of 20 passes, 1/2 long balls, one pass into the final third, had 1/2 successful dribbles, won 1/3 ground duels, 2/2 aerial duels, four recoveries, and finished with 28 total touches.
9. Matias Fissore, 7.0
In 66 minutes, Fissore completed 17 of 20 passes, 1/2 long balls, two passes into the final third, created two chances, dribbled past two defenders, won 1/4 ground duels, three interceptions, three recoveries, drew one foul, and finished with 25 total touches.
10. Paul Blanchette, 6.9
In 90 minutes, Blanchette recorded one save and completed 7 of 31 passes, 3/27 long balls, one punch, one throw, 10 recoveries, and finished with 34 total touches.