Game Notes & Player Ratings: Oakland Roots move into 4th with 1-nil win over Colorado Springs

Oakland Roots walk out of Colorado Springs with three points following its 1-nil victory thanks to an early goal by Johnny Rodriguez in the 12th minute. The win improves Roots’ record to 6-2-4 and pushes them up to fourth place, their highest ranking ever at this point of a season.

It was a very different starting 11 for Roots with Anuar Pelaez starting at striker, Darek Formella returning to his natural left wing spot, while Rodriguez featured at right wing in place of Edgardo Rito–who was missing due to a “Personal Reason.” More on Rito in our Game Notes section below.

The first 10 minutes of the match didn’t leave Roots fans thinking a goal was imminent. Colorado Springs drew two corners within the first minute of the match, a free kick, a shot wide by Patrick Seagrist, and another corner in the 11th minute.

Johnny’s goal in the 12th was Oakland’s first offensive action of the night. The buildup started with Danny Barbir pushing the ball down the left side then kicking it inside to Formella. The Pole then sent a pass to Napo Matsoso, who found Rodriguez standing in space asking for the ball.

Johnny took two dribbles to his right before unloading a perfectly placed shot to the left post from nearly 10 yards above the area. John Morrissey broke down the goal:

Roots had another chance in the 18th minute when Bryan Tamacas sent to Anuar Pelaez on the doorstep, but the Colombian couldn’t turn in the hard pass from Tamacas. One minute later, midfielder Danny Gomez went down with an apparent ankle injury and had to be taken off on the stretcher. It was an unfortunate sign for Gomez, who was appearing in his fifth straight start.

Colorado Springs had a clear pathway to score in the 34th minute with striker Romario Williams, but the Jamaican couldn’t pull off a shot before taking contact with Emrah Klimenta–going down too easily as Williams looked for a foul on Emrah. It was a rough game for Williams, who was called offside three times, dispossessed twice, and only won 1/4 ground duels.

Pelaez had another look in the 44th minute, but his shot attempt was deflected out for a corner. In the first minute of first-half stoppage time, Paul Blanchette made a big stop of a first-touch shot by Jairo Henriquez, but his attempt from inside the box went straight to Blanchette.

Roots had one more buildup in stoppage time with Memo Diaz storming down the right side, but he picked out Tamacas instead of Napo with much more space at the top of the area. Oakland went into half with just two touches inside Colorado’s penalty area, while the Switchbacks had over 20.

In the second half, Roots drew back-to-back corners in the 48th and 49th minutes by way of shots by Rodriguez that were blocked. Oakland missed one big scoring opportunity in the 55th, when a shot by Tamacas from inside the box swerved into Pelaez in front of goal–it was a truly unlucky situation for Anuar, who has felt snake-bit with bad luck this season.

Oakland had a moment straight out of FIFA in the 59th when a well-placed shot by Formella rolled into the right post and back into play. Rodriguez then had a shot attempt clang off of the left post, where the ball eventually returned to Johnny for a shot on target that was pushed out for a corner.

From there, Diaz had a nice shot on target on the volley that forced a diving save at 63 minutes. Formella also couldn’t finish a 1-on-1 opportunity following a great feed by Rodriguez, forcing another diving save. Oakland’s final clear scoring chance came in stoppage time when Lindo Mfeka was played through by Formella, but the South African ‘s shot was stoppage by former Roots keeper Christian Herrera.

Oakland looks to continue its strong run of form on the road in Phoenix on June 10, where they will officially see Juan Guerra for the first time after he was not permitted on the sidelines of last year’s meeting. Rising is currently four points back of Roots, but plays today against Pittsburgh.

Game Notes

Credit: Oakland Roots SC
  • Capitalized on a struggling Colorado Springs team; time to keep proving it.

It wasn’t the prettiest, it wasn’t the most elegant, but Roots got the job done–and that’s all the matters. Colorado Springs finished the night by losing its fifth consecutive game, making it all that more critical to not drop points versus a struggling side.

The win puts Oakland up to fourth, which would clinch them a home playoff draw if the season ended today. It’s an encouraging place to be for Roots, but a stark reminder that there are 22 matches left in the season.

Oakland has an opportunity to control its destiny and could continue positioning itself as a Western Conference contender over the next month. Roots’ next three Western Conference matches will help shape the division; facing Phoenix on June 10 and June 24, while they host RGV Toros to close the month on June 28.

Phoenix, in seventh with 16 points, is direct playoff-contending competition for Roots. RGV, meanwhile, are struggling in 10th at 2-5-4, but reached last year’s postseason.

  • Johnny Rodriguez is for real.

Johnny Rodriguez notched his team-leading fifth league goal of the year and sixth in all competitions. His goal in the 12th minute was another banger from the 24-year-old forward, appearing at right wing for the first time all season.

What’s encouraging is Johnny doesn’t shy away from the big moments. He was calling for the ball prior to taking his strike, putting himself in space to receive possession and unload for his attempt. It also showed the variability of Noah Delgado’s system.

If this offense continues to work effectively, a big part of the success will continue being Johnny.

  • Paul Blanchette, our RootsBlog Man of the Match

We named Paul Blanchette our RootsBlog Man of the Match for keeping the clean sheet despite not being overly challenged on the night. Where Blanchette made his largest difference was coming out for corners for claims, officially recording three high claims–but I feel FotMob missed out on a few stat.

Blanchette only required two saves with one by dives. It’s a further testament to Oakland’s defense preventing clear shooting lanes with 12 shots and just two on target.

  • Danny Gomez’s injury and how that impacts the midfield group.

It was rough to see Danny Gomez going down with an injury in the 19th minute. Danny has been one of the more impressive new players in this year’s roster after starting his fifth-consecutive game.

Gomez is seemingly taking control of the midfield rotation with his positive play, showing instinctive defense and passing to open players to get the attack in motion. With Irakoze Donasiyano’s lingering injury, there’s a sudden need for another creative-minded midfielder.

Joseph Nane and Napo Matsoso had a good game versus Colorado Springs, but both are predominantly defensive-minded midfielders. With Gomez’s injury, Nane and Napo are the only two available players at their position.

Pending the severity of Gomez’s injury and the possible timeline of Donasiyano’s return, will we see an addition at the position? It’s worth mentioning that Wolfgang Prentice split time at right back, midfielder, and winger with Oakland and is getting time on loan in Forward Madison’s midfield.

  • What’s up with Edgardo Rito?

We certainly know why you made it this far in the article; what is going on with Edgardo Rito? Well, we can’t say anything definitively at this point in time, but the wheels may turning on something for the Venezuelan.

The blog was told prior to Friday’s match Rito was out for a “Personal Reason.” When pressing on whether Rito’s personal reason was team-related, we effectively received a “no comment.” Oakland entered the match with just six of seven players on its bench, meaning the team likely anticipated Rito being available prior to getting on the plane.

We were put in touch with a source familiar with Rito, who voiced frustration over the situation. It’s purely speculative what it means for Oakland, but it could be taken as a clue that the Venezuelan is unhappy about something–clearly evident by him being unavailable.

If it is team related, we should expect news to develop within the coming week.

Player Ratings

  1. Johnny Rodriguez, 8.7

In 89 minutes, Rodriguez had one goal, four shots with two on target and one blocked, completed 71% of his passes (12/17), created three chances and missed one big chance, one successful dribble, three passes into the final third. He blocked one shot, four clearances with one by header, two recoveries, won three ground duels (50%), two aerial duels (100%), drew two fouls, and finished with 36 total touches.

2. Napo Matsoso, 7.9

In 90 minutes, Napo had one assist, completed 89% of his passes (25/28), two chances created, had one successful dribble, two passes into the final third, and one accurate cross. He won three tackles (100%), made one clearance, three recoveries, won five ground duels (71%), drew one foul, and finished with 38 total touches.

3. Bryan Tamacas, 7.7

In 90 minutes, Tamacas had one shot, completed 76% of his passes (22/29), created two chances, blocked one shot, won three tackles (100%), four clearances, one interception, five recoveries, won six ground duels (60%), two aerial duels (50%), drew three fouls and finished with 55 total touches.

4. Darek Formella, 7.6

In 90 minutes, Formella had two shots (50% accuracy), completed 89% of his passes (34/38), created one chance, missed one big chance, two passes into the final third, one accurate long ball (100%), made two interceptions, six recoveries, won one ground duels (33%), one aerial duel (100%), drew one foul, and finished with 51 total touches.

5. Paul Blanchette, 7.5

In 90 minutes, Blanchette had two saves with one by diving and stopped one shot from inside the box, completed 61% of his passes (27/44), 26 percent of his long balls (6/23), three throws, three high claims, 12 recoveries, and finished with 52 total touches.

6. Emrah Klimenta, 7.5

In 90 minutes, Emrah completed 69% of his passes (34/49), seven passes into the final third, 27% of his long balls (4/15), blocked one shot, four clearances with two by header, 10 recoveries, won one ground duels (50%), two aerial duels (100%), and finished with 59 total touches.

7. Neveal Hackshaw, 7.2

In 90 minutes, Hackshaw completed 80% of his passes (32/40), four passes into final third, 33% of his long balls (3/9), two clearances, one interception, six recoveries, won 67% of his ground duels (2/3), 33% of his aerial duels (1/3), drew one foul, and finished with 48 total touches.

8. Joseph Nane, 7.0

In 68 minutes, Nane completed 74% of his passed (17/23), three passes into final third, won 100% of his tackles (3/3), one clearance by header, one interception, three recoveries, won 60% of his ground duels (3/5), and finished with 30 total touches.

9. Danny Barbir, 6.9

In 90 minutes, Barbir completed 83% of his passes (24/29), five passes into the final third, 50% of his long balls (3/6), blocked two shots, four clearances with three by header, two recoveries, won 67% of his aerial duels (2/3), and finished with 43 total touches.

10. Memo Diaz, 6.8

In 90 minutes, Memo created two scoring chances and missed one, recording three shots (33% accuracy), completed 66% of his passes (19/29), four passes into the final third, completed 25% of his crosses (2/8), 50% of his long balls (2/4), took six corners, won two (100%) tackles, made two recoveries, won three ground duels (30%), one aerial duel (100%), drew one foul, and finished with 47 total touches.

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