Oakland Roots vs. Phoenix Rising – Match Preview (June 24, 2023)

The Roots host Phoenix Rising, in the return fixture of the match they played just two weeks ago, at 7:00 p.m. at Pioneer Stadium on the CSU East Bay campus in Hayward. The match will only be on ESPN+.

In light of the recent fixture, there is not a whole lot to say! Here’s the Roots’ table of results:

March 11at San Antonio FCL13
March 19at RGV TorosD11
April 1vs New Mexico UnitedW10
April 8at Indy ElevenW30
April 15vs HartfordL12
April 23at LoudounL02
April 29vs Miami FCD00
May 6at Birmingham LegionW41
May 13vs Orb CountyW30
May 20at SacramentoL13
May 27vs San Diego LoyalW20
June 2at Colorado Springs SwitchbacksW10
June 10at Phoenix RisingD22
June 17vs Pittsburgh RiverhoundsD00
June 24vs Phoenix Rising
June 28vs RGV Toros
July 8at Tampa Bay Rowdies
July 12vs. Memphis 901 (rescheduled)
July 15at Monterey Bay Union F.C. of Seaside
July 22at El Paso Locomotiv
July 26vs Las Vegas Lights
July 29vs Detroit City
August 4at Charleston Battery
August 19vs Colorado Springs Switchbacks
August 23at New Mexico United
August 26at Louisville City
September 2vs Sacramento
September 9at Las Vegas Lights
September 16vs FC Tulsa
September 23vs Monterey Bay Union F.C. of Seaside
September 30vs San Antonio FC
October 4at Orb County
October 7at Loyal
October 14vs El Paso Locomotiv

Basically nothing happened in the Roots’ 0-0 against Pittsburgh.

Among the reasons I would not last long handling social media for the USL is that I would absolutely have put “Highlights” in quotes on this video. Anyway, it’s funny that as soon as too many goals are getting scored, Delgado shuts that shit down like he did against Miami.

Stuff actually happened in the Phoenix game, and because it’s USL, if “something” happens, it’s probably hilarious ineptitude!

Carlos Harvey tucked in a header at the back post on a corner kick in the 6th minute and Phoenix held that lead for awhile, but Alejandro Fuenmayor got suckered into wiping out Amadou Dia for the nailed-on penalty call. Sean Totsch’s penalty was on the mark. Louisville then took the lead in the 57th on a long, low shot from just-introduced substitute Dylan Mares. In the 72nd, Phoenix were awarded a penalty for a handball by Amadou Dia. Manuel Arteaga took the same shot Totsch did and the teams were level again. Then in the 79th there was ANOTHER penalty, this time by Sean Totsch. Danny Trejo attempted the third shot to the low lefthand corner of the match and finally a keeper guessed that direction, easily parrying Trejo’s shot wide. I don’t miss the results that Guerra put together, but I sorta miss the bemusement at every game ending in the dumbest way possible.

It’s too early in the season to do a weekly look at the Western Conference standings, but since I’m skimping on other stuff, I’ll put a table together for you:

El Paso15308
San Antonio152511
Monterey Bay15236
San Diego15233
Colorado Springs16220
Orange County1616-8
Rio Grande Valley1516-9
New Mexico1415-3
Las Vegas149-11

Dropping four points in two games will move you down the table, but the Roots dropped those points against decent teams, one of which will almost certainly make the playoffs. I think Monterey might also be lucky. I went in search of a stat to show that they’re lucky, and I found this:

The biggest gap on that table is six percentage points, between Monterey and 2nd place Pittsburgh, and the next biggest gap is between fourth-worst and fifth-worst, which is a four percentage point gap. It’s relatively small real numbers, so maybe it means nothing, but Monterey is taking relatively few shots on goal (bottom third of the league, I think) but converting them. Seems like it might be luck.

Underqualified Soccer Tactics Talk

On the RootsPod and in this Blog, Aaron and Jon and I tend to use numbers as a short-hand for positions. I recently spoke to someone at a game who said they enjoyed the podcast, but were not as up to speed on soccer lingo, and so struggled to follow that short-hand. Here is a quick explainer, which I suppose I could put into a permanent post.

Number 1: almost always the first choice goalkeeper. It is bizarre to me that Paul Blanchette doesn’t wear the No. 1 jersey. I have to assume that he feeds off the indignation at starting seasons behind Zeus de la Paz (2021) and Benny Diaz (2022), and like the coyote running off of the cliff, if Blanchette looks down and realizes he’s the starter, his powers will evaporate.

Numbers 2 and 3: often worn by full backs, that is, the speedier defenders that play on the outside of the defense. Not the most useful as tactical jargon.

Numbers 4 and 5: often (but not always) worn by center backs, the big uglies in the middle of the defense, but sometimes associated with defensive midfielders. Players in these positions typically make up 96% of a Roots opening day roster.

Number 6: defensive midfield.

Number 8: box-to-box midfield. That is, a midfielder whose responsibility covers the entire area between each team’s 18-yard-box (or who is supposed to carry the ball from one box to the other? I don’t know, hire someone better than me for this). The Roots do not currently have one of these healthy, although Donasiyano basically fits into this role. Jose Hernandez and Charlie Dennis both did this to an extent.

Number 10: attacking midfield. Mfeka has the skill set of a 10, but does not always play in a 10 role. This was Dennis Bergkamp’s position:

and this was Mesut Ozil’s position:

Number 7: Outside forward or winger. Cristiano Ronaldo wears this number and its not a coincidence. Formella sorta fits this role.

Number 9: Central striker. Someone whose job is scoring goals, playing through the middle.

Now that you know I don’t know what I’m talking about:

Lineup and Score Predictions


I think Jon said he saw Morad out and running around like this injury wasn’t that serious, so I think we see him replacing Nane. I think it’s possible Nane gets the start over Cedeño, but I thought Cedeño seemed like basically the Roots’ only spark against Pittsburgh, and I would lean against benching him for two defensive midfielders. Possible Nane could start over Matsoso, but again, seems unlikely. I think Pelaez goes back to the bench with Johnny up top. Kevin Wright looked unhappy when he came off, so I’m thinking Prentice plays on the right and Memo goes back to left back.

A lot of this is suboptimal, and with a more preferred lineup, the Roots only drew with Phoenix two weeks ago. Nonetheless, I stand by my prediction on the RootsPod, Roots pull out some 3-1 magic in front of the home fans.


I’m going Cedeño and Matsoso as the midfield pivot and Morad returning to the central center back role. I also think Cedeño provides Roots its best option for a creative midfielder, but can see if Delgado goes with Joseph Nane after the pair of Matsoso/Nane did well two weeks ago in Phoenix. At fullback, I’m going Memo Diaz on the right and Kevin Wright on the left. We’ll see if Wright is hampered after departing from the Pittsburgh match with cramps. With the attack, I’m going with the same starting three as what faced Phoenix.

I predicted a 3-1 win on RootsPod and I’m sticking to it. This would be the type of win to energize a team as it ramps up contention for a home playoff draw. Let’s see if they can get it done.


With Tamacas and Hackshaw out, Roots should play their best player in every position.

That player is Paul Blanchette. 1-0 Roots.

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