Oakland Roots broke a three-match losing streak on Saturday night at Pioneer Stadium with a 0-0 tie against Miami FC, but have still yet to score in 270 minutes of soccer. Roots pressed on for a goal, notably in the second half with nine shot attempts in the latter 45 minutes, but Oakland is still working to find the finishing touch.
“We had some good chances and some good looks throughout the game. We had service in the box to dangerous areas. It felt like a goal was coming, I felt the team was playing well enough and creating enough chances. There were a couple of deflections where I thought they were going to go in and find their way. But credit tot he boys for getting the shutout defensively, I think that’s important. Just creating chances, playing well, and getting shutouts leads to bigger and better things,” said coach Noah Delgado.
The offensive struggles has been the largest takeaway over the past four matches. Oakland hasn’t scored a goal from open play since its 3-0 win over Indy Eleven with its last goal against Hartford coming from a penalty kick by Darek Formella. Deglado explains they are looking for answers.
“We’re looking at different things. We ended the game in a different formation than we usually do. It’s key just getting what works. We talked a little bit about runs in the box, we’re getting good service and getting in behind. Now its finishing off some of these good opportunities in transition,” said Delgado.
With Johnny Rodriguez out of the lineup and Anuar Pelaez on short rest from Wednesday at Sacramento, Delgado was forced to shift things around. Darek Formella started at striker with Lindo Mfeka to his left and Edgardo Rito pushing up from his usual right wingback role to right winger.
“We know what [Rito] can bring to a game and getting him up the field in those opportunities can create more and create good stuff for us. I like the balance of someone who is vertical with Rito and then Lindo, who is more of player in between the lines and controls the tempo of play. I think he had some good runs and were unlucky in a couple of chances. But I thought he worked extremely hard and he worked hard defensively. Then you have Bryan Tamacas up the right wing, who does a good job getting in behind,” said Delgado.
In the first half, Roots had the first look at scoring in the 13th minute when Danny Barbir launched a rocket toward goal that took a deflection off of a defender, eventually tipped over the bar by goal keeper Jake McGuire. Aside from that, Neveal Hackshaw had a shot sail high in the 32nd.
But Roots were piling on the pressure early in the second half, but just couldn’t find the finish. Oakland plead for a handball after a shot from Lindo Mfeka after Curtis Thorn tried to turn away from his attempt, but there was no call. The ball eventually fell to Diaz in the middle of the box, but his shot sailed high over the bar. Irakoze Donasiyano also had a shot blocked in the 53rd minute after a ball fell to him from a corner.
In the 68th, Formella had a shot going towards net blocked, eventually trickling to Diaz a few feet in front of the net. Diaz took a shot attempt but it was blocked by Mark Sebgers. Napo Matsoso had a shot go wide in the 72nd, while Lindo also sailed a shot in the 79th from an odd angle, but it was Roots’ final shot attempt of the game.
Oakland’s defense had a strong game, holding Miami to no shots in the first half while all seven of their attempts came in the second half. We named Paul Blanchette our Man of the Match alongside Danny Barbir for his two big diving saves on the night–leaping to stop a shot in the 65th and then made another diving stop in the 71st. Florian Valot also had a shot ring off of the crossbar in the 81st.
“We’re deep with our defense. You look at the different rotations we played; we talked about the Sacramento game as well where Paul wasn’t forced to make a save. We’re having some really good stuff that we’re looking at in film and also good data. Now its time to start getting results, but I’m happy with the progress we’re making,” said Delgado.
Roots travel to Birmingham Legion next Saturday for a difficult matchup against the third-ranked team in the Eastern Conference.
- Does the team need to sign an attacker?
With the scoring drought continuing, Johnny missing time, Pelaez still finding his form, and a lack of creative options in the midfield, it’s my sense that signing another attacking-minded player would be in Oakland’s best interest. There’s currently no indication that another move is in the cards, however, but its tough to see Roots continuing this way.
The lack of center forward depth is really impacting how the team operates. Formella was forced to start his third match in a week, moving Roots’ usual left winger to the striker role. In the midfield, meanwhile, Delgado brought in Irakoze Donasiyano at halftime as his only creative-minded midfielder with Joseph Nane, Napo Matsoso, and Ethan Kohler all Central Defensive Midfielders by trade.
Of Oakland’s scoring attempts on Saturday, the majority of scoring opportunities fell to natural defenders like Rito, Barbir, Hackshaw, Diaz, and Tamacas. It shows how Delgado doesn’t have a lot of options to work with.
- What needs to change with the attack?
Oakland finished with just two shots on target, marking their fourth consecutive match with two or less shots on target. Instead of packing this in the recap above, Delgado’s quote on what needs to chance offensively felt like a notable comment.
“Running in the box needs to be key and sharper. We need to finish our chances when we get clear ones. Miami is a good defensive team, a top-top defensive team, so I knew this was going to be a game where there’s not a ton of chances but enough chances to create and get a result. Sacramento was on the road last week, they’ve given up one goal. But its working on our ideas, cleaning up the opportunities we have, box running, and getting service going,” said Delgado.
- Delgado’s thoughts on integrating Anuar Pelaez.
Pelaez entered in the 82nd minute for Emrah Klimenta, finishing with one shot attempt on the volley that sailed over goal in the 90th minute. The Colombian striker is still finding his way for Roots, Delgado offered his thoughts on the striker’s struggles.
“I’ve talked to him and told him its hard sometimes when internationals come into this league with how unique this league is. There’s different things involved; the travel is different, playing on turf for him is a lot different, I don’t think he ever played on turf in South America. So I think he’s adapting to a new team and language. I think he’s doing well and doing a lot of stuff that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. It’s a process of integration with him and I hope he gets going soon,” said Delgado.
- Is Johnny coming back?
Delgado mentioned Johnny is “getting close” to returning, but wouldn’t fully declare him to be available when asked if he will play next game.
“I hope he’s back. I think he’s getting close, I don’t know but I think so,” said Delgado.
- Paul Blanchette, 7.9
In 90 minutes, Blanchette recorded three saves with two by dives, completing 12 of 23 passes, 2/13 long balls, six throws, one punch, six throws, three high claims, seven recoveries, and finished with 36 total touches.
2. Danny Barbir, 7.7
In 90 minutes, Barbir recorded one shot on target and completed 63 of 74 passes, 12 passes into final third, had 2/2 successful dribbles, dribbled past one defender, won 6/8 ground duels, three clearances with one by header, three interceptions, four recoveries, drew one foul, and finished with 95 total touches.
3. Neveal Hackshaw, 7.7
In 90 minutes, Hackshaw recorded one shot and completed 56 of 66 passes, 3/5 long balls, five passes into the final third, had 1/1 successful dribbles, won 1/1 tackle, 4/5 ground duels, 2/3 aerial duels, blocked two shots, two clearances with one by header, two interceptions, nine recoveries, drew two fouls, and finished with 79 total touches.
4. Bryan Tamacas, 7.5
In 90 minutes, Tamacas recorded three shot attempts with two blocked, completing 40 of 50 passes, 1/4 long balls, nine passes into the final third, had 2/4 successful dribbles, dribbled past two defenders, won 3/3 tackles, 7/14 ground duels, 2/5 aerial duels, one clearance, two interceptions, eight recoveries, drew two fouls, and finished with 78 total touches.
5. Lindo Mfeka, 7.4
In 90 minutes, Mfeka recorded three shot attempts with two blocked, completing 60 of 69 passes, 1/4 crosses, 3/5 long balls, 15 passes into the final third, took three corners, created one chance, had 3/4 successful dribbles, dribbled past one defender, won 3/5 ground duels, 1/2 aerial duels, one interception, six recoveries, and finished with 89 total touches.
6. Joseph Nane, 7.4
In 45 minutes, Nane completed 38 of 43 passes, 1/1 long ball, seven passes into the final third, had 1/1 successful dribbles, won 1/2 tackles, 4/4 ground duels, 1/1 aerial duels, two interceptions, eight recoveries, drew one foul, and finished with 52 total touches.
7. Napo Matsoso, 7.3
In 90 minutes, Matsoso completed 58 of 62 passes, 2/2 long balls, five passes into the final third, created two chances, dribbled past one defender, won 1/1 tackles, 2/6 ground duels, two clearances with one by header, two interceptions, seven recoveries, drew one foul, and finished with 73 total touches.
8. Emrah Klimenta, 7.1
In 82 minutes, Klimenta recorded one shot and completed 58 of 66 passes, 1/4 long balls, three passes into the final third, won 1/2 ground duels, two interceptions, seven recoveries, and finished with 72 total touches.
9. Memo Diaz, 7.0
In 82 minutes, Diaz recorded two shot attempts with one on target, completing 36 of 46 passes, 3/5 long balls, nine passes into the final third, created two chances, dribbled past two defenders, took one corner, had 1/2 successful dribbles, won 1/4 ground duels, six recoveries, and finished with 59 total touches.
10. Edgardo Rito, 6.6
In 90 minutes, Rito completed 24 of 29 passes, 2/3 long balls, three passes into the final third, created two chances, dribbled past one defender, won 2/2 tackles, 4/12 ground duels, 1/2 aerial duels, three recoveries, drew two fouls, and finishes with 47 total touches.