Game Notes & Player Ratings: Oakland Roots tie Phoenix Rising for second time

The regular season series of Oakland Roots vs. Phoenix Rising is officially complete with both teams tying each match, this time resulting in a 1-1 tie at Pioneer Stadium. Two weeks ago, Roots relinquished 1-0 and 2-1 leads, where Rising scored the equalizer in the 86th minute on a cross from a corner. On Saturday, Oakland gave away its 1-nil lead with a header on the end of a cross at 90+3′.

“I thought we had a good second half, we got the goal to get ahead. It comes down to marking in the box, we’ll continue to focus and concentrate on those key moments. I thought we played well, good enough to win the game. And we’re just going to watch film and move on from there,” said Delgado, via SoccerBayArea.

Roots’ result marks their third straight tie after a 0-0 draw with Pittsburgh was wedged between Phoenix matches. Delgado wants the team to focus on finishing games.

“We’ve been leading in two of those games. Pittsburgh is a very good defensive team as well. That was going to be a very defensive game with minimal chances for both squads. There were more than 400 minutes without a goal scored on us at home. [We’ll keep working on] moments of the game, especially as we get closer to the end of the season, Closing out games, starting the half well, that’s important,” he said.

Oakland struggled with its fluidity throughout the night and suffered from several sloppy moments despite taking the lead late in the second half. Rising forward Danny Trejo had a shot on target in the 20th minute that batted off of the hands off of Paul Blanchette and out for a corner. Paul also had a nervy moment in the first 10 minutes when colliding with Tarek Morad and spilling a ball.

It was a relatively even first half. Oakland went into halftime with five shots and two on target; Memo Diaz had a shot trail wide in the 15th, Wolfgang Prentice couldn’t make square contact on a well-placed cross in the 24th, while Lindo Mfeka had a slow shot on target in the 26th.

Roots’ best chance of the opening 45 minutes came in the 39th minute when Prentice tried to re-direct a pass from Johnny Rodriguez on goal, but keeper Rocco Rios Novo was there for the save. Prentice had one more shot attempt go high in the 42nd.

In the second half, the sketchy moments started with Blanchette diving on a loose ball in front of the net at 55 minutes, preventing Trejo from taking his shot attempt. Five minutes later, Joseph Nane played a sloppy pass back to Blanchette, where Roots’ keeper put a heavy touch on the ball to almost perfectly set up Manuel Arteaga. However, Paul was able to recover. Another botched pass occurred in the 66th when Danny Barbir played a pass back to Paul, but it went straight out the back for a corner.

Possibly the worst moment was in the 72nd in a series where Roots were lucky to not concede. Somehow, Rising did not score in the image below.

It started with Blanchette playing a pass to Jeciel Cedeno that was deflected to Tarek Morad, who sent a slow pass to Nane that allowed Phoenix’s Erickson Gallardo to steal the ball in Roots’ penalty area. But Gallardo played a pass through to Trejo that allowed Oakland’s defense to reposition itself, eventually clearing the ball.

The giveaways weren’t done with Carlos Harvey sending a shot narrowly over the crossbar in the 78th after stealing possession in Roots’ defensive area.

But Roots broke the deadlock 82nd minute on some terrific work against the run of play. It started with Cedeno stealing possession around midfield before playing a pass to Johnny Rodriguez, who flicked a pass centrally to Lindo on his first touch. Mfeka sent a left-footed pass to Formella charging into the area, taking one touch before rifling a shot into the net.

Oakland had another scoring chance in the first minute of stoppage time when a corner fell to Anuar Pelaez, but his shot went wide.

Phoenix’s tying goal at 90+3′ came when Gallardo dribbled his way down to the end line past Barbir–sending a cross to Arteaga for the header goal. The Venezuelan forward beat Emrah Klimenta on his jump, placing his shot to the top-right corner.

But the excitement wasn’t over with Trayvone Reid having a chance to steal the win at the very end. Barbir played a pass toward Reid, who sprinted past a failed tackle by fullback Eddie Munjoma. In a potential 1-on-1 situation, the Jamaican winger elected to take the ball inside to the middle of the penalty area for his shot, but Novos successfully made the diving save.

Rotos now look ahead to a potential fortunate mid-week match against Rio Grand Valley at Pioneer Stadium. RGV is currently 11th place and have leaked 24 goals. Oakland will play the only mid-week Western Conference game, where a win would bring Roots to 26 points to tie them with Monterey Bay in third place.

Game Notes

  • Good to take points in a bad performance.

There’s certainly a feeling of two points lost in Roots’ second consecutive time conceding a lead to Phoenix, but it was undoubtedly an ugly performance from Oakland based on the ungodly amount of giveaways throughout the 90 minutes. I’m not sure if it was Roots’ worst performance so far this season, but is was for sure the sloppiest.

With all of that considered, taking a point is an acceptable result, but taking two of six points from Phoenix feels like a loss.

  • Darek Formella, our RootsBlog Man of the Match

We named Darek Formella our RootsBlog Man of the Match for scoring the goal, but showing his usage in Delgado’s system. He started the match at right wing instead of left wing, which allowed Lindo Mfeka to play his natural 10-role as a central attacking midfielder.

His goal was actually at the right wing spot with Mfeka sending him the pass from a central position. It shows the fluidity Delgado has instilled in his forwards.

  • Jeciel Cedeno also making an impact.

This marks Cedeno’s second straight mention in our takeaway/talking points section for his impact in the midfield. He’s been great moving the ball in transition and evident by his steal towards the goal, he’s a capable and instinctive defender.

He finished with six passes into the final third.

  • Pull the trigger.

I don’t want to be too harsh on Trayvone given he’s only 23-years-old and still adjusting to playing in a country completely away from his support system in Jamaica–which I feel is an underrated difficulty on him. But he squandered his moment to shine at the end of the game on his breakaway toward goal. I would’ve liked to see him pull the trigger on his shot attempt at this moment in the image below, or just make the one extra pass to Pelaez asking for the ball at his feet. Player Ratings

  1. Darek Formella, 7.6

2. Memo Diaz, 7.5

3. Lindo Mfeka, 7.3

4. Napo Matsoso, 7.2

5. Jeciel Cedeno, 7.1

6. Joseph Nane, 7.0

7. Wolfgang Prentice, 7.0

8. Tarek Morad, 6.9

9. Danny Barbir, 6.7

10. Paul Blanchette, 6.4

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