Oakland Roots tied 1-1 with Memphis 901 on Wednesday night at Pioneer Stadium, bringing them to 6-6-6 overall and currently ninth place in the Western Conference standings, extending its winless run to six games. Roots got out to a 1-0 lead after 33 minutes thanks to a brilliant play by Jeciel Cedeño, but Memphis came back with a goal in the 61st minute.
It was a game marred by some officiating decisions, which dictated the tempo of play and flow of the match, including a strange six-minute stoppage in the second half. Here are our talking points from the match.
Absolutely terrible officiating
What a strange, strange game.
Some calls were soft, some calls were outright missed, some calls were late, and some calls were harsh. Right from the very beginning of the game, head referee Ricardo Fierro seemed eager with his whistle against Roots but ate his whistle in several key situations for them.
“There were some calls [Delgado shakes his head], I got to watch the film on some things. A lot of stoppage in the game,” said Delgado. “When you have a lot of whistles, it’s hard for either team to get rhythm. You don’t know what’s a foul and what’s not a foul, and how do you go from there? It’s part of the game and you try to move on the best you can.”
Oakland had two goals waved off with Johnny Rodriguez in the 10th minute and Darek Formella in the 86th. The call against Johnny came at a razor thin margin and you wonder when Roots will finally get one of these 50/50 judgement calls in its favor, because it was really that close. Aside from the call, it was a great play starting with Neveal Hackshaw sending a long ball from the top of Roots’ penalty area to Memo Diaz toward the opposite box.
Take a look at the play below at the point of Diaz releasing his pass. It’s hard to judge based on the angle, but you can see Rodriguez’s back foot still on the line, while Jelani Peters is well beyond the area’s threshold. For me, this is a blown call and should be reviewable by video operators.
The mayhem wasn’t done for Oakland. Two minutes later, Jeciel Cedeño was clipped in the box by former Roots and current Memphis FB Akeem Ward, but the ref made no call. Cedeño made a great run into the area ahead of Ward to be on the receiving-end of a long pass from Danny Barbir, but Jeciel took a shot to his ankle and lost his footing. He was outraged over the no-call.
Cedeño took another hit in the box from Ward in the 58th minute of the match, but again, no call was made. This time, Jeciel beat Ward on a 1-on-1 run and took a shove in the back. The first of the two situations for Cedeño seem like the more obvious.
Even Hackshaw’s red card at the end was peculiar, because the initial foul was on a tackle by Cedeno. Delgado doesn’t think the ref saw the play.
“I didn’t see it, the referees next to me didn’t see it. There was kind of a melee with a whole bunch of people in between. I don’t even know if the ref saw it, he was attending to the player. I have to watch it, I don’t know,” said Delgado.
Jeciel Cedeño our RootsBlog Man of the Match
We named Jeciel our RootsBlog Man of the Match for scoring his first goal in an Oakland Roots’ uniform and the team’s first goal since tying Phoenix 1-1 on June 24. He lined up at right wing for the first time after predominantly appearing as a midfielder in his previous appearances since being acquired from Hartford. He’s proven to be another versatile option added by technical director Jordan Ferrell, and at 23-years-old, he provides a ton of potential.
His goal in the 33rd minute was some great individual work after receiving a longball from Barbir and winning a duel against Ward, where he collided cleats with the Memphis fullback and broke toward the net. Cedeño faked like he was going to send a pass toward the front of the goal, but instead wrapped his left foot around the ball to send a rocket over Bill Hamid.
Delgado praised Jeciel, commenting that he’s always been aware he could play on the wing and also rotate to the midfield.
“I thought he was very good, we knew he was very good from the start. We knew he could play that position, play on either side, and play in the midfield to close it out,” said Delgado. “Cedeno’s goal was a good goal, isn’t an easy goal by any means–it was a good player scoring a good goal.”
He finished with an 8.3 FotMob rating with three shots on target, three successful dribbles, and won eight ground duels.
Bryan Tamacas & Neveal Hackshaw Oakland’s saving grace?
Bryan Tamacas and Neveal Hackshaw’s return was a welcomed sight for Roots supporters and staff members. Their inclusion bring hopes of better results and improved fluidity on the offensive end despite being defensive players.
Tamacas had some dangerous passes into the area and looked good in his return to Oakland’s wingback role.
“Hackshaw feels stable in the center, defensively good, good passing range, and good communication. Tamacas getting down the wing tonight really helped us out. He had a couple of opportunities where he crossed the ball into the box. He and Cedeño’s relationship looks solid.”
For Hackshaw, he’ll be forced to miss Monterey due to the red card at the end of the match.
Attacking woes continue
Oakland had some chances against Memphis, recording nine shots with only three on target. They’ve struggled to find the net over the last five matches with just two goals during that span. Roots have fallen to ninth place after being in fourth when defeating Colorado Springs 1-0 back on June 2.
Evident by the recent stats, Oakland is finding shooting lanes. They also took 14 shots versus Tampa despite losing 3-nil. Delgado thinks Tamcas and Hackshaw’s return will help improev things, while Roots need to finish in the opportunities given to them.
“Getting players back, even if its just defensive players [Tamacas and Hackshaw], it gives more possession, camaraderie and understanding, I think that’s key. Tampa, I think we had 14 shots and had some very good looks, some clear opportunities. It’s just being clinical those spots; even tonight, I think we had some really good looks.”
Midway progress report, Donasiyano return
In giving feedback on his mid-season progress report, Delgado clued that Irakoze Donasiyano has returned to training.
“We’ve had some really good stretches. We had some stretches where we weren’t getting results, but we were playing pretty well. I think getting everyone back and getting [Irakoze Donasiyano] back in the mix, and see what we have going forward to help out. [Donasiyano] is a little bit out still, but he’s close, very close. He’s moving around,” said Delgado.
Quick explanation of the second-half stoppage
I don’t want to dive into this much more than I explained in last night’s live blog. The ESPN+ broadcast indicated there were accusations of racist language following an altercation between Darek Formella and Bill Hamid in the 48th minute without indication of who was accused. After a near six-minute break, no players were penalized.
When approaching Oakland Roots officials on the matter, they could not elaborate on the matter but expressed readiness and willingness to provide the league footage. Coach Noah Delgado gave a “no comment” on the matter as well: “We’re waiting for the league to find out some stuff, no comment on that.”
From our conversations with multiple people familiar with players on the team, there has never been an issue with Formella and accusations as such isn’t his character.