Game Notes & Player Ratings: Oakland Roots drop season opener to San Antonio FC

It was a disappointing 3-1 loss for Oakland Roots against the defending champions, San Antonio FC, on Saturday night at Toyota Field with two goals and an assist conceded to center back Lamar Batista, who signed a 25-day contract at SAFC shortly after Rochester NY FC dissolved its organization. What marred the day were two mistakes leading to goals by Niko Hansen in the 12th minute and Batista from midfield in the 73rd.

It took time for Roots to build into the game, not having any shot attempts through the first 40 minutes, but finishing the final five minutes plus stoppage time of the first half with four shots and three on target. They closed the match with 11 shots and seven on target to go along with two big chances, but allowed 12 shots and seven on target by San Antonio.

SAFC’s first goal seemed too easy for the defending champs, allowing Niko Hansen to reel off a shot in the area following a failed buildup out of the back. Following a give-and-go from Lindo Mfkea, Emrah Klimenta laid off a pass to Johnny Rodriguez, who wasn’t able to corral the ball on his first touch. After San Antonio re-gained possession, the ball played to Dhillon and then ricocheted to Batista, who sprung Hansen out wide on the left with Klimenta strung out of position after the failed attack.

But Roots progressively began looking better prior to Batista’s goal in first-half stoppage time. They got their first offensive look in the 31st minute on a pass from Edgardo Rito towards Rodriguez at the front of the net, but SAFC keeper Jordan Farr made the dive to push the ball out for an eventual clearance. 10 minutes later, Klimenta took a shot from an angle close to the right post, pushed out for a corner.

In the first minute of first-half stoppage time, San Antonio drew the corner kick which led to Batista landing an absolute Worldy while falling backwards, flicking his foot up to catch it as he made his way to the ground for the goal.

Oakland nearly scored twice in the closing minutes of stoppage time. At 45+3, Rito retrieved a second-ball that targeted Rodriguez, taking it from the right wing to around the top of the penalty area. Rito sent a perfect through-ball to Darek Formella making the forward run, but Formella’s shot didn’t have much direction on it and was effectively closed out by Farr–getting his hand on the attempt. Moments later, Diaz sent a well-placed cross to Rodriguez, whose header went slightly to the right of Farr.

Roots kept looking strong in the second half with Mfeka taking a shot attempt in the 54th after a good buildup down the right wing with Rito, who played a pass through to the South African but Farr was able to pounce on it for a corner. Then in the 58th, Oakland got on the board with Diaz’s goal.

In the buildup, Nane held the ball around the top of the area and kicked out to Matsoso, who found Rito literally sitting out on the right wing–as seen below.

Rito took a touch down by the right corner flag to line up his cross. His pass to Diaz was arguably the most well-executed cross of the Venezuelan’s time in Oakland. It could’ve easily been Rito’s third assist of the night.

But then everything went south in the 74th minute when Batista scored from midfield on a ridiculous strike. On what appeared to be Batista inadvertently sending a rocket back toward Roots’ back line, turned out to be an arcing shot that sailed over Blanchette and into net with Oakland’s keeper off his line.

From there, Roots called on Anuar Pelaez and Irakoze Donasiyano as subs in the 67th minute for their team debuts, Trayvone Reid came on in the 83rd. Pelaez lined up a shot from distance in the 78th, while Reid had one of the more exciting shot attempts in the first minute of second-half stoppage time.

Reid’s shot attempt required some great footwork. When receiving a pass by Diaz, the Jamaican winger took a touch with his right foot to free himself up from two defenders and move into the area. His right-footed shot was bending to the right post, but Farr made the diving save.


  • The largest takeaway on the night was just how much the attacked flowed through Rito. We named him RootsBlog’s Man of the Match for his continuous runs down the right side, while the game-film reveals that he could’ve easily had three assists. He was literally sitting on the right wing before assisting Memo’s goal, perhaps showing some trickery Noah Delgado has planned for the Venezuelan outside back.
  • Trayvone Reid looks like a playmaker. In his limited seven minutes of regulation time, Reid had the best-looking shot attempt of the entire night on his bending shot in second-half stoppage time. He’s a player who looks like he can make players miss when in possession and keep players on their toes with his speed and agility. It’ll be interesting to see if he can gain the starting role at left wing, I’m excited to see what he can do in a full 90 minutes.
  • Emrah Klimenta’s usage is a good indicator of how Bryan Tamacas will be used. Klimenta often pressed up into the midfield when in possession with 1-2 type plays, even being in the box for several buildups. It’s a sign of how Delgado wants his system to function.
  • Mistakes cannot become a trend. The first goal was a turnover in Oakland’s own defensive half, allowing Hansen’s goal. The third goal was just a pure gaffe that looked like Batista making a mistake. It is two glaring mistakes that Roots wish they had back. Without them, the game easily could’ve ended in a 1-1 draw.
  • Sticking on the critical angle, Roots’ defense struggled on set-piece defending. In the 10th minute, PC connected with Justin Dhillon on a ball-in from a free kick. Oakland then conceded Batista’s first goal by way of a corner. Although a Worldy-type goal can understandably be allowed, San Antonio’s level of execution on set pieces was a bit concerning and is something to keep an eye on. Last season, Roots struggled through the early portion of its schedule on set piece defense.
  • Limited activity from Anuar Pelaez in his 23 minutes on the pitch, but it was nice to see him line up a shot on target from distance. That willingness to shoot is something I was hopeful to see from Pelaez, but there were a couple of occasions where he lost possession in 1-on-1 situations with defenders. Johnny struggled with his hold-up play, being dispossessed five times and won just 2/12 ground duels. If hold-up play will be a focus point of the striker position, both players will need to be more effective there.

FotMob Top-10 Ratings

  1. Edgardo Rito, 8.1

In 90 minutes, Rito recorded one assist and one shot attempt, completing 26 of 41 passes, nine passes into the final third, 2/3 crosses, 1/7 long balls, created three chances, had 3/3 successful dribbles, won 3/4 tackles, 8/11 ground duels, 1/2 aerial duels, one interception, six recoveries, drew one foul, and finished with 64 total touches.

2. Memo Diaz, 7.6

In 90 minutes, Diaz scored once with his only shot attempt, completing 13 of 23 passes, six passes into the final third, 1/5 crosses, 1/4 long balls, created two chances, took five corners, won 1/1 tackle, 1/1 ground duel, 1/4 aerial duels, two clearances with one by header, five recoveries, and finished with 35 total touches.

3. Lindo Mfeka, 6.8

In 90 minutes, Mfeka recorded three shot attempts with one on target and one blocked, completing 19 of 25 passes, three passes into the final third, 2/3 long balls, took two corners, won 1/1 tackle, 3/3 ground duels, one interception, four recoveries, drew two fouls, and finished with 38 total touches.

4. Joseph Nane, 6.8

In 67 minutes, Nane completed 21 of 28 passes, two passes into the final third, 2/3 long balls, created one chance, dribbled past two defenders, won 1/2 tackles, 3/6 aerial duels, three clearances with one by header, one interception, six recoveries, drew one foul, and finished with 36 total touches.

5. Napo Matsoso, 6.7

In 90 minutes, Matsoso completed 32 of 39 passes, 3/6 long balls, three passes into the final third, took one corner, won 3/5 tackles, 7/9 ground duels, five recoveries, drew two fouls, and finished with 51 total touches.

6. Tarek Morad, 6.5

In 90 minutes, Morad completed 35 of 42 passes, 7/9 long balls, three passes into the final third, won 2/4 tackles, 5/6 ground duels, 4/8 aerial duels, two clearances, four interceptions, seven recoveries, drew one foul, and finished with 56 total touches.

7. Irakoze Donasiyano, 6.3

In 23 minutes, Donasiyano recorded one shot attempt that was blocked and completed eight of 16 passes, 1/2 long balls, four passes into the final third, one chance created, won 1/2 ground duels, 2/4 aerial duels, one recovery, and finished with 18 total touches.

8. Emrah Klimenta, 6.2

In 90 minutes, Klimenta had one shot on target and completed 22 of 34 passes, 2/8 long balls, 11 passes into the final third, dribbled past one defender, won 3/5 tackles, 6/10 ground duels, 1/3 aerial duels, two clearances with one by header, five recoveries, blocked one shot, drew one foul, and finished with 63 total touches.

9. Danny Barbir, 6.0

In 90 minutes, Barbir completed 21 of 32 passes, 3/9 long balls, 11 passes into the final third, 1/1 successful dribble, dribbled past one defender, won 1/2 tackles, 3/4 ground duels, 2/4 aerial duels, two interceptions, two recoveries, blocked three shots, and finished with 51 total touches.

10. Darek Formella, 6.0

In 83 minutes, Formella recorded one shot on target and completed 15 of 19 passes, 2/2 long balls, created one chance, missed one big chance, won 3/8 ground duels, 1/3 aerial duels, had three recoveries, drew three fouls, and finished with 28 total touches

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