Game Notes & Player Ratings: Oakland Roots upset by RGV Toros

It certainly wasn’t the result Oakland Roots wanted or needed against lowly ranked RGV Toros, falling 0-2 to the visitors on Wednesday night at Pioneer Stadium. It snapped a five-match unbeaten run for Roots, but came on the heels of a sloppy 1-1 draw versus Phoenix Rising four days prior. Some of that inconsistency from the previous matched shined through against Toros, while tired legs seemingly made an impact as well.

“We made some mistakes that I think were because of heavy legs with two games in a couple of days. We had some chances. We knew it was going to be on us to push the tempo and dictate the game. We had some looks and good runs in the first half, but cracking down for a whole game was going to be key and we had some moments of lapses that hurt us,” said head coach Noah Delgado.

Oakland enters a 10-day break until its next match at Tampa Bay, conveniently allowing Roots time to rest, recover, and dissect what went wrong.

“It’s time to regroup, we have a little break before Tampa. We want to give the guys some time off to mentally and physically recover, especially from playing on this very hard surface. Sometimes it takes a little longer to recover from. We’ll take this setback on the chin and move on,” said Delgado.

Since defeating Colorado Springs 1-0 on June 2, Roots dropped leads to Phoenix on two occasions, where the second appearance was marred by giveaways that led to opportunities. On Wednesday night, RGV made Oakland pay for those mistakes. Delgado is hopeful plauers like Bryan Tamacas and Neveal Hackshaw will make a difference once they return from Gold Cup duty.

“I think they came in with an idea of sitting back, letting us have the ball, counter attacking, and take advantage of the errors that we make… It’s just keeping focus. You get to a point in the season where we’re one game away from halfway. We have some players on international duty, so its just staying focused. I think the team has been excellent so so long. We’ve had so many stretches of good games and battling. Sometimes there’s mental lapses in the grind around this time right now. We get to the mid-season point and there are some lapses. But we’ll work on it. Credit to the team, they usually will put their hand up and are very receptive to feedback. We’ll take this on the chin and we’ll get better,” said Delgado.

It was an auspicious start for Roots with two shots in the first five minutes of action, but it resulted as two of the three attempts in the opening 45 minutes. Johnny Rodriguez’s one shot on target accounted for half of what Oakland finished with on the night.

Wolfgang Prentice had an attempt in close distance in the fourth minute after receiving a pass into the box by Memo Diaz. Prentice’s shot a couple of feet in front of goal keeper Tyler Deric went off of Erik Pimentel and out for a corner.

On the subsequent corner, the ball cycled to Danny Barbir at the left post, who cut a ball toward net that skipped over Deric’s foot and toward the line, but Pimentel was there to clean it up.

Rodriguez then had a shot on target on good work in transition in the 22nd, but Roots struggled to generate chances from there. In the remaining 68 minutes, Oakland just couldn’t find shooting lanes.

“I think it was more of the defense limiting shooting lanes. I think the guys shoot a lot when they have chances, but they aren’t going to just kick a ball into a player in front of them. It’s time to move them around. We could’ve been more clinical on some of our passes, for sure, but when a team plays five- or six-players across their back line, it’s tough to break down,” said Delgado.

Roots opened the second half on a better note with Diaz having a shot attempt in the 49th and Lindo Mfeka attempting a header in the 52nd, but Oakland wouldn’t challenge Deric and RGV from then on.

RGV’s goal in the 72nd came when Joseph Nane’s attempted clearance went straight into Wilmer Cabrera Jr. and recovered by Frank Lopez. With Tarek Morad and Nane close together at the moment of the botched pass, Lopez fed Cabrera past Morad for the easy goal.

Eight minutes later, Lopez beat Nane on a ball over the top, taking it down by the right post before squaring a pass to Cabrera Jr. for the pair’s second connection. Oakland ended the match on a sour note with Diaz drawing his second yellow.

Roots have until July 8 at Tampa Bay to rest. Oakland ended the night holding onto fifth place in the Western Conference, but teams like Monterey (3rd), San Antonio (4th) Colorado Springs (7th) play twice during Oakland’s break. San Diego (6th) plays Indy and Phoenix (8th) faces Memphis.

Takeaways/Talking Points

Credit: Oakland Roots SC
  • Oakland Roots public partnership.

How exciting is today’s Community Investment Round news by the organization? The club is doing something very profound and beneficial for everyone involved, but it also carries a great weight of responsibility.

In my multiple conversations with the team about this subject, they’ve adamantly said the community investment will carry value. It won’t be window-dressing or a donation, but have actual worth. Mike Geddes shared his thoughts with ABC7’s Casey Pratt.

“A lot of sports fans in American might be familiar with the Green Bay Packers model, where the fans have a chance to own shares in the team. But what that is it’s really more like a donation. If you’re an owner of one of those shares, you get certain perks like you get access to merchandise, and tickets and events before anyone else, and you get different levels of access to the club, but there’s no opportunity to participate in the financial success of the team. What we’re going to achieve with our crowd funding round is we will give you all of those perks, but you will also be able to participate in the financial upside. So if, for example, the club is acquired and brings in more investment, or you decide to sell your shares, then you can participate in that financial benefit just like any other investor and any other owner,” said Geddes.

  • “Good teams beat bad teams badly.”

This was a thought shared by a Homegrown Hooligans member while sitting in the parking lot stewing after the match, and I couldn’t agree more. RGV marked Oakland’s third time losing to a team with a worse record than them after falling to 8th place Eastern Conference team Loudoun and last-place Hartford. If Roots truly consider themselves to be a team competing for a home playoff game, you need to win these games.

Now, Oakland put itself into a hole, traveling across the country to one of the best Eastern Conference teams in the Tampa Bay Rowdies (4th) before returning home to third-place Memphis. It doesn’t get easier with road matches at surging Western Conference foes, Monterey and El Paso to follow.

  • How is the attack working since Rito’s departure?

This is a tricky subject to tackle because Wednesday’s match marked the end of a five-match unbeaten run–albeit three straight ties in the games prior. However, Oakland has only scored four goals in the last six games. In Rito’s last three matches, Roots won 4-1 over Birmingham, 3-0 over Orange County, and 2-0 over San Diego–helping build Oakland’s goal differential which is now down to +4.

Roots acquisition, Jeciel Cedeno, has shown promise as a midfielder but he doesn’t appear to be a goal-scoring threat as much as he is a distributor and creative presence in transition. He’s largely making up for the loss of Irakoze Donasiyano .

With that, Oakland doesn’t have a tool like Rito to stretch the field . The expectation has been for Roots to add someone who could slot into the front line, but with Oakland dropping points in four straight matches, a move is looking increasingly important with each passing day.

Delgado offered his thoughts on the attack following Rito’s departure:

“This is the first game we lost since Rito’s departure. It’s a different [attack], we came in some different formations and shapes that you’ve seen the last couple of games–we’ve been changing formations a bit. It was Rito and Tamacas on the right side and now they are both gone. It’s a bit of a change moving Memo to the right but I think, as a group, the boys have done a really good job. Tonight was unfortunate. We knew it would come down to second-balls and giveaways for the counter. Scoring the first goal was going to be key.”

  • Wolfgang taking over at LWB?

Wolfgang Prentice earned his second straight start at left wingback over Kevin Wright. Delgado mentioned that Wright was dealing with an injury, which attributed to Prentice getting some minutes. It’s worth mentioning that Wright will likely be called upon again following Memo’s red card.

“Wolfgang got the start; Kevin had a knock too against Pittsburgh, I believe. Kevin’s coming back from a little knock, but I thought Wolgang played well last game and he gives us a lot going forward. We thought he could give us more going forward, he’s playing more of a forward role than as a defender right now,” said Delgado.

  • Napo Matsoso expected back.

There was no Napo Matsoso in the lineup for Oakland with Danny Gomez getting the nod instead. Delgado explains Napo was dealing with an injury but is expected back in time for the next game.

“He got a little knock in the last game and he wasn’t available for tonight. It’s nothing serious but he should be back by Tampa,” said Delgado.

Player Ratings

  1. Jeciel Cedeno, 6.9
  2. Joseph Nane, 6.8
  3. Danny Gomez, 6.8
  4. Darek Formella, 6.7
  5. Danny Barbir, 6.7
  6. Tarek Morad, 6.4
  7. Lindo Mfeka, 6.2
  8. Wolfgang Prentice, 6.2
  9. Anuar Pelaez, 6.1
  10. Johnny Rodriguez, 5.9

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