Oakland Roots took its third consecutive loss on Wednesday night, falling 0-1 to Sacramento Republic FC in the third round of this year’s Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup at Heart Health Park. Now two straight games without scoring a goal, the match left a lot to be desired.
Sacramento’s goal came in the 49th minute by Nick Ross and he couldn’t have struck it better. Ross stepped into the left side of the penalty area, unloading a perfect right-footed curling shot to the far post.
“I thought the boys did some very good things tonight. I thought we were good defensively, for the most part, they still got a goal and they did well to step into the ball. We created some quality chances to get a result. We made some changes from the weekend; the boys traveled across the country with one day less to rest. I thought they battled and the spirit in the team is good,” said coach Noah Delgado following the loss.
“We know Sacramento is a good team. We just wanted to keep things organized and limiting transitions was key. They are very good on set pieces, I thought we could’ve created a chance on our set pieces. We wanted to stay organized in the mid-block and close down space for them.”
The offensive struggles are continuing for Oakland Roots. Over the last three matches, Roots have struggled to find clear shooting lanes with just one shot on target versus Sacramento and Loudoun, while having just two shots on target against Hartford. Delgado points out they still had 15 shots versus Hartford, 14 on Loudoun, and created chances to score against Republic.
“I think we’re getting chances. We had quite a few shots against Hartford and Loudoun, but hitting the target is key. We had some good looks today, one early on, it’s just working on those little details right now and concentrating in moments, but there’s good stuff going on,” said Delgado.
Oakland’s best chance at scoring came in the 29th minute when Joseph Nane pounced on a bad giveaway by Sacramento around midfield. Dribbling forward, Nane laid a pass off to Darek Formella on the right, who sent it back to Nane for the shot just a couple of yards in front of the net. However, Sac goal keeper Carlos Saldana made the kick save with his right foot.
Roots didn’t have another shot attempt until Formella had a shot blocked in the 62nd minute. A minute later, Trayvone Reid sent a free kick a couple of feet to the right of net from about 10 yards above the penalty area in the 63rd.
Bryan Tamacas came on as a substitute for Reid right after his free kick and made an instant impact. In the 65th, Tamacas freed himself up on the right side to send a forward pass up to Edgardo Rito sprinting past his nearest defender. Saldana spotted Rito’s run and came off his line all the way to the top of the penalty area. Rito attempted to dribble past Saldana, who dive at the ball and made contact with the Venezuelan. However, no call was made, leaving the traveling Function and Rito pleading for a penalty.
In the 81st, Memo Diaz sent a free kick in to Formella, who headed it centrally but Saldana was there to dive on the ball. There was a moment of confusion a couple of minutes later between Tamacas and Rito, who were both making a forward run into space. Tamacas seemed to be in the best position to initially make a play, but Rito took it wide and his shot went right of net.
Oakland has a short week, returning this Saturday to CSUEB’s Pioneer Stadium against Miami FC, which just lost 5-3 in penalty kicks to MLS’ Inter Miami on Wednesday. They also beat Las Vegas Lights 4-1 in their recent USL Championship game last Sunday.
- Offensive woes continue.
As mentioned above, the offensive troubles have to get the microscope. Oakland is creating chances, as Deglado mentioned, but doing it on a consistent basis is becoming a trend. Against Hartford, Rito had a chance saved in the fifth minute. Tamacas had a shot on target stopped in the 10th against Loudoun as well. This time it came from Nane in the 29th, but Oakland couldn’t find the finishing touch in all three.
Delgado described some things he want to see differently.
“We want to be ready for transition and be organized more in the back, closing lines between players. I thought we did well limiting and eliminating service tonight. [I’d like to see us] keeping things tight, little details, and keeping concentration for a full 90 minutes,” said Delgado.
“Overall, the performance is there. There’s been some quality performance from players, we just need to be more clinical in front of goal. [We need to work on] moments of concentration, stepping in, and being decisive with our actions.”
- Scoring from corners and set-pieces.
Roots haven’t created any goals directly from corners or set-pieces so far this season. Oakland has generated 50 corners throughout its USL Championship appearances and have a lot of drawn-up plays, but nothing has landed thus far.
Delgado points out Roots have a high XG from corners, but still need to fine tune certain areas.
“Delivery has been good and we’re crashing the box. Our XG on set-pieces is really high, so it’s finishing off those chances. Offensively, finishing and attacking the box is key. I think service has been good for the most part, but we need to crash the box and really get after it,” said Delgado.
- Lack of attacking depth is already hurting.
With Johnny Rodriguez missing time and Anuar Pelaez struggling to produce, the lack of attacking options hopefully won’t become a major issue. Formella stepped into the 9-role to close Wednesday night, which may show how the attack lacks some creativity when it counts. Although Formella has experience as a center forward, it takes away from the winger position with him rotating inside.
The midfield spot is another glaring position that lacks attacking-minded players. With Nane, Napo Matsoso, and Ethan Kohler all considered defensivev midfielders, Irakoze Donasiyano is the only creative midfielder of the bunch with Lindo Mfeka also considered a winger in Delgado’s system.
- Johnny Rodriguez back?
Speaking of attacking woes, Johnny Rodriguez has missed the last pair of matches due to a lower body injury. Delgado describes Johnny could return for Saturday’s game against Miami.
“He’s coming back, hopefully we see him this weekend. We’re going to see how it goes when we get back into training,” said Delgado.
- Bryan Tamacas impact off of the bench
Closing with some positive perspective, Tamacas made a good impact off of the bench. Him dribbling around a defender to free up Rito for a pass down the right wing was exactly what the Salvadoran was brought in to do. Delgado shared his thoughts on Tamacas.
“He played a lot [against Loudoun]. Just looking at him, he didn’t have much of a preseason. Coming in, he pushed Rito a bit higher and it worked out, we had a couple of chances off that right away. With Rito going up a bit further, it allowed Tamacas to attack from the wingback,” said Delgado.