The Oakland Roots return to Hayward from a successful trip to Birmingham and host Orange County S.C. at 8:00 p.m. Pacific Time at Pioneer Stadium, following the Soul’s home opener. The match will be on ESPN+, but you should be there for the Soul/Roots two-for-one.
This is the Roots’ first matchup of 2023 against a former Pacific Division rival, and that means the Roots have a real history against this club. Roots have faced Orange County six times, with three losses, a win, a draw, and a penalty shoot out loss. Of course, the biggest of those was the penalty shootout loss.
The Roots roster has changed a lot from this game, although Blanchette is still starting in goal and Emrah Klimenta, Memo Diaz, and Joseph Nane are still in and out of the starting lineup for the Roots. What surprises me is that Rodriguez started in that game. Also funny is that Travian Sousa was subbed on in the 98th and subbed off again in the 121st, the rare all-overtime sub-sub. This was 43% of Sousa’s minutes for the Roots. He’s with Tacoma Defiance in MLS Next Pro now. Orange County, of course, went on to the title that season, and have won 8 total games since then.
Last season the Roots traveled to Irvine in May and pulled out a draw on a last-gasp whipped free kick from Ottar Magnus Karlsson in the 94th minute. The teams completed the return fixture less than a month later with Juan Carlos Azocar tying the game 2-2 in the 93rd minute and Karlsson winning the three points with ANOTHER whipped free kick in the 95th.
Sadly, Karlsson is barely getting any minutes in Serie C. I don’t think the finances really work for him to make a move to Oakland permanently, but I just want him to come home.
Orange County’s Form
Not very good! Orange County have five points in nine matches, and have conceded fifteen goals–second worst in USL (the worst is Hartford, so uh, whatever). They have only been shut out in one game, which is something to hang their hat on.
Orange County beat Indy Eleven 1-0 in Irvine on April 15, and do not have a win since then. Ln April 22 they fell 1-2 to Birmingham in Irvine, and on April 29 they fell 1-3 away to New Mexico.
The opener came in the 15th on a silly backpass that former Orange County hero Ronaldo Damus intercepted and slipped in to Tumi Moshobane in the box for the easy goal. Less than three minutes later, Loyal won a penalty when Nick Moon was accosted in the box, earning Joe Corona a penalty and a 2-0 lead. Orange County got a consolation goal in the 96th on a well-executed set piece. You would think that was that, but there were seventeen(!) minutes of stoppage time. Nonetheless, County would take their, presumably, 5-ish mile 75-minute drives home without any points at all.
In worse news for everyone, Orange County player Kevin Partida apparently said something he shouldn’t have, and has been suspended.
Partida is fifth for County in minutes this season from the midfield, has contributed a goal, and is second ranked on Fotmob’s Orange County player ratings. The seventeen minutes of stoppage occurred because there was some pushing between the teams and then the referee stopped play and spoke to players and coaches from both teams to figure out what happened. When play resumed, Orange County had subbed three people, including Partida, out. After the game ended, OCSC posted on socials that a player had used a homophobic slur. You can check out more from our friends at Orange and Black Soccercast here.
Orange County’s form is bad and their vibes, currently, worse, although credit to the team for not hiding behind feigned ignorance.
|March 11||at San Antonio FC||L||1||3|
|March 19||at RGV Toros||D||1||1|
|March 25||vs Memphis 901||???||???||???|
|April 1||vs New Mexico United||W||1||0|
|April 8||at Indy Eleven||W||3||0|
|April 15||vs Hartford||L||1||2|
|April 23||at Loudoun||L||0||2|
|April 29||vs Miami FC||D||0||0|
|May 6||at Birmingham Legion||W||4||1|
|May 13||vs Orb County|||||||
|May 20||at Sacramento|||||||
|May 27||vs San Diego Loyal|||||||
|June 2||at Colorado Springs Switchbacks|||||||
|June 10||at Phoenix Rising|||||||
|June 17||vs Pittsburgh Riverhounds|||||||
|June 24||vs Phoenix Rising|||||||
|June 28||vs RGV Toros|||||||
|July 8||at Tampa Bay Rowdies|||||||
|July 15||at Monterey Bay Union F.C. of Seaside|||||||
|July 22||at El Paso Locomotiv|||||||
|July 26||vs Las Vegas Lights|||||||
|July 29||vs Detroit City|||||||
|August 4||at Charleston Battery|||||||
|August 19||vs Colorado Springs Switchbacks|||||||
|August 23||at New Mexico United|||||||
|August 26||at Louisville City|||||||
|September 2||vs Sacramento|||||||
|September 9||at Las Vegas Lights|||||||
|September 16||vs FC Tulsa|||||||
|September 23||vs Monterey Bay Union F.C. of Seaside|||||||
|September 30||vs San Antonio FC|||||||
|October 4||at Orb County|||||||
|October 7||at Loyal|||||||
|October 14||vs El Paso Locomotiv|
Some fun highlights!
I’m not really sold on the Roots’ attack, despite the final scoreline, since all of the goals came up a man and two were a penalty and a tap-in as the result of a penalty. Nonetheless, I don’t think the Roots got outplayed prior to the red card, and that’s not bad for an away match against the top team in the East. Birmingham’s record may flatter them, but I think they’re at least good.
Players to Watch
Milan Iloski #9 – The 23-year-old Escondido native is in his second season with Orange County after trying to make it in the Real Salt Lake system. Iloski won the Golden Boot in 2022 with 22 goals, despite Orange County’s overall mediocre season.
Brent Richards #16 – Richards has been a mainstay of Orange County dating back to their 2021 season, lining up primarily at centerback (fotmob thinks right back, but I’m not sure). He contributed 6 assists in 2021, which is good for any defender but great for a centerback. Richards is a native of Portland, Oregon and played in college at UW (boooo) before signing with Timbers (he had been part of their youth setup during his time in college). He made six appearances for the Timbers before going down to the Timbers 2 and eventually playing four seasons with Reno 1868 including captaining their 2020 title-winning season that included many familiar names such as Chuy Enriquez, Corey Hertzog, Sam Gleadle, Tucker Bone, Sergio Rivas, Emilio Ycaza, and Eric Calvillo. “Brent Richards” is one of those names that’s just unique enough to not seem super common, but I have this nagging feeling like I knew a guy in middle school with that name. I assume everyone feels this way and it’s totally normal.
Lineup and Score Predictions
This is really the lineup I would like to see rather than I think what Noah will necessarily do. I think the team he has been running has been too defensive and he has got to find more goals from open play. I think it’s been long enough that Rodriguez can start again, which will allow him to go back to three real forwards, and put Rito at right back. Realistically if he makes this offensive shift, I bet he sticks back in Matsoso partnered with Donasiyano in midfield to provide some defensive stability. I am absolutely too lazy to remake my lineup image.
I was on the Orange & Black Soccer Cast this week and predicted 2-1 to the Roots, and I will stand by that.
Anyone’s guess is as good as mine following the last couple of games. I nearly totally agree with Peter’s Starting 11 above, but mine as Matsoso back in the midfield alongside Donasiyano. At center forward, I can see what Delgado is looking for in Darek Formella with his ability to drop deeper, send passes, and break through lines. It’s much of the same reason I think Johnny gives Oakland’s best chance at creating goals. If Formella is Delgado’s preferred option at striker between Johnny and Anuar Pelaez, I’m taking that as a cry for help. With Rito, I also like him at wingback compared to winger. If he is pushed up in the attack, it’s because Delgado probably prefers Tamacas’ defensive reliability.
As for my score prediction, I think this is the perfect opportunity for Roots against a struggling Orange County. I like a clean sheet, Roots 2-nil.
This is not a prediction, more an attempt to manifest. I think that we have to regard last weekend’s result as a false dawn until further notice. The play from both teams was somnambulant until Roots’ penalty, and Roots needed a second penalty to get on the scoreboard again. Two goals on the power play against a stretched team is nice, but I doubt we can take much from it.
My one concession to reality here is that it appears we are sticking with this “Rito as RW” thing. I guess kudos to the coach for giving the experiment time to breathe. I’m still not sure if it works. But like I said last week, I think this team continues to be more suited to a back 4, especially if, for defensive reasons, we’re using Tamacas as a wing back or wide center back. Just run an asymmetric 4-3-3, I say.