Roots fans it’s game day! The Roots make the short little drive down 880 to the 101 to 156 to the 1 to Cardinale Stadium to face local rival Monterey Bay F.C. in Seaside, California. The Roots are on a bit of a rough patch, although looked better last game, and MBFC are on a somewhat shorter rough patch but may be trending the wrong direction. One of these teams has to right the ship, right? No! It could be an ugly draw! THE MATCH WILL BE ON FREAKING ESPN2! You can also catch it on TeleXitos. But if you’re able you should try to get down to catch the game and sit with the traveling fans. Do your part to make it a home game for the Roots, and show those rich golf weirdos who runs the northern Central Coast.
Around the Western Conference
We are probably far enough into the season to justify putting this in my previews.
Roots struggling and Sac playing really well. Just what we all like to see.
MBFC were on pretty good form in June, winning four straight, but have struggled since, taking only one point in their last three games. On July 1, they went ahead in the 35th on a well-placed Hugh Roberts header off of a corner kick away at Orange County, but capitulated in the second half, ultimately falling 3-1. Their next match was away to Colorado Springs, a match that apparently started 42 minutes late, but in which Colorado Springs did not wait around, scoring 90 seconds in. Colorado Springs then scored again 18 seconds into the second half, both goals coming from crashing down the right and crossing long and low into the box. Kai Greene was, arguably, at fault on the first goal, although I think the Union defensive structure probably made his job difficult there. Greene was then punished with a penalty in the 69th minute, on a tackle where he did not actually touch the player, who hurled himself at the ground. Tough luck for our friend Kai. The fourth goal was a worldy, and you can’t really fault MBFC for it. Still, their defense didn’t cover itself in glory in these two matches.
With their return home last weekend, MBFC’s defense righted the ship against a streaky El Paso side (0 out of 9 points to start the season, 29 out of 33 points from March 25 to June 14, 2 out of 12 points since), and fought to a tough 0-0 draw. I’m not linking the highlights here, to change things up (and because I suspect no one watches them), but just know that for some reason USL put 7 minutes of highlights up for a 0-0 draw and I cannot divine why. I watched them–they’re not great. I say that MBFC’s defense righted the ship–they kept a clean sheet. However they made some huge errors that El Paso just failed to capitalize on.
|March 11||at San Antonio FC||L||1||3|
|March 19||at RGV Toros||D||1||1|
|April 1||vs New Mexico United||W||1||0|
|April 8||at Indy Eleven||W||3||0|
|April 15||vs Hartford||L||1||2|
|April 23||at Loudoun||L||0||2|
|April 29||vs Miami FC||D||0||0|
|May 6||at Birmingham Legion||W||4||1|
|May 13||vs Orb County||W||3||0|
|May 20||at Sacramento||L||1||3|
|May 27||vs San Diego Loyal||W||2||0|
|June 2||at Colorado Springs Switchbacks||W||1||0|
|June 10||at Phoenix Rising||D||2||2|
|June 17||vs Pittsburgh Riverhounds||D||0||0|
|June 24||vs Phoenix Rising||D||1||1|
|June 28||vs RGV Toros||L||0||2|
|July 8||at Tampa Bay Rowdies||L||0||3|
|July 12||vs. Memphis 901 (rescheduled)||D||1||1|
|July 15||at Monterey Bay Union F.C. of Seaside|||||||
|July 22||at El Paso Locomotiv|||||||
|July 26||vs Las Vegas Lights|||||||
|July 29||vs Detroit City|||||||
|August 4||at Charleston Battery|||||||
|August 19||vs Colorado Springs Switchbacks|||||||
|August 23||at New Mexico United|||||||
|August 26||at Louisville City|||||||
|September 2||vs Sacramento|||||||
|September 9||at Las Vegas Lights|||||||
|September 16||vs FC Tulsa|||||||
|September 23||vs Monterey Bay Union F.C. of Seaside|||||||
|September 30||vs San Antonio FC|||||||
|October 4||at Orb County|||||||
|October 7||at Loyal|||||||
|October 14||vs El Paso Locomotiv|||
The Roots would benefit a lot from playing better.
This game was a turd and I am not watching the highlights of it. I recall it ending 3-0 for Tampa. However, the exciting news is that new player hater ranking has just dropped:
- #1 Andrew Carleton – Las Vegas Lights
- #2 Manuel Arteaga – Phoenix Rising
- #3 Sacramento Republic
- #4 Wilmer Cabrera Jr. – RGV Toros
- #5 Cal Jennings – Tampa Bay Rowdies
Player Hater Emeritus:
- Mikko Kuningas – FC Lahti (fmr. OCSC)
- Tom Brewitt – Swindon Town (fmr. Tacoma Defiance)
The Roots looked so much better in this one. It is frustrating how much the season may have been derailed by Tamacas and Hackshaw playing in the Gold Cup. It may well have been a difference in points in the Pittsburgh game, the second Phoenix game, and the second RGV game. I think the Roots still need an attacker to move up a level. Before this run, an attacker might have been enough to make the Roots challengers at the top of the conference. Now an attacker is probably necessary to get back to a home playoff game. I think this team will still make the playoffs (barring something like an injury to key players), but it will not be a cake walk like it seemed the first week of June.
Anyway, the called off Barbir goal is probably correct. He seems well offside, although the sequence of events is a little hard to track. The called off Johnny goal is at best ambiguous, and at worst an atrocious game-altering decision. From the tv angle its a little hard to see when the ball leaves Memo’s foot. If it’s the earlier frame, Johnny is well onside. If it’s the later, it’s 50/50. As Aaron pointed out on this week’s pod, you can’t make that call if it’s 50/50, especially since the linesman appears to be trailing play.
It’s especially frustrating because it was such a good sequence of passes from the Roots.
Ultimately the Roots would go ahead on some wonderful individual effort from Jeciel Cedeño, who I thought looked intriguing as a right-sided winger. Lindo was not in the starting lineup, but was in street clothes on the sideline and appeared to be moving around fine, so hopefully Noah just wanted to give him a night off (and not be tempted to put him in).
The Memphis equalizer was a lousy bit of play from the Roots’ back line.
In this frame, the ball has been passed sharply to the Memphis player just central of the D1, who has redirected the ball beautifully to Kissiedou through on goal. Hackshaw is probably further off his man than he should be, but Tarek is caught in no man’s land–not effectively closing down the passer, not catching his man offside (this frame is after the ball has been played, I think Kissiedou is unambiguosly onside when the ball is passed), and not marking his man. Tamacas is well off of Kissiedou, but I’m not sure that’s his mark in the moment. Paul had no chance once the ball reached Kissiedou. I think it was a good pass and heads-up play from Memphis, but I think the Roots could have prevented it.
The Roots created another couple of opportunities, but could not get the ball (legally) in the back of the net again. The Formella goal was properly ruled off for a handball. No idea how he’s gotten his hand all the way over his head there. David Tyree positioning.
The Hackshaw straight red was pure referee insanity. Yes, he goes over to shove some Memphis players, but that’s a yellow not a red. If shoving is a straight red, this game should have ended 8 on 8. Maybe after whatever that 6-minute stoppage was, the ref had said “straight red on the next funny business,” but I don’t think this was the next funny business, to be honest. Throughout, I just don’t know what the ref was thinking.
Players to Watch
Alex Dixon #15 – Alex Dixon was a Houston Dynamo homegrown player, and his given name is Hugh, making Hughs just over 18% of the MBFC starting lineup. “Hugh” is also the name of the main character in my favorite shaggy dog story, which I will tell if at a party and sufficiently prodded/drunk/annoyed. Dixon played college ball at UNC, where he shared the field with Birmingham Legion forward Enzo Martinez. In his sophomore season, UNC were eliminated in the semifinals, when Dixon, who had scored previously, was unable to wear his usual jersey number because his usual jersey had disappeared. Dixon has moved around the lower leagues since being released by Houston in 2013, and has never scored as consistently as he is this season with Monterey Bay, at age 33 (8 goals, of which 2 are penalties). Dixon plays on the right wing for MBFC and is a gooner.
Christian Volesky #10 – Volesky plays center forward for MBFC and has put up 7 goals and 4 assists this season. Volesky is 30, and like Dixon, has bounced around the lower leagues, after failing to sign with the Timbers, who drafted him 32nd overall. Volesky appears to pretty regularly score, but not quite regularly enough for a team to pull out the stops to keep him. He played last season for Keflavik, which is the town in Iceland with the real airport. Volesky scored three goals in four games in June, but hasn’t scored since (although MBFC have only one goal in their last three).
Sam Gleadle #23 – Gleadle is a native of Chichester, England, the town that gave us Alex Horne and Hugh Dennis. Gleadle grew up in New Mexico, and played college ball at UNM, made the logical jump from college to the Albuquerque Sol:
Real respect to Sol for putting “14” in their logo, instead of the bullshit 1868 thing that Reno does (using the year of the city’s founding rather than the club’s). Anyway, Gleadle then moved to Reno 1868 for two season, moved to Minnesota United where he never got on the field, and then played the 2021 season with San Antonio, where he appeared 22 times with five shots and no goals. He has been better since joining the newly formed MBFC in 2022, scoring 8 in 2022 and 4 in 2023 with 5 assists.
Lineup and Score Predictions
No Hackshaw, again.
This is somewhere between wish-casting and my actual predicted lineup. There’s no way Nane has the juice for another start this soon. I think with Tamacas back, there’s a chance Noah will trust these three CBs without putting a ball-player back there. If Lindo is healthy, I might see him and Cedeño both in the lineup, one in place of Gomez. Also might be worth trying either in place of Gomez and starting Reid, since from the footage it looks like MBFC can be beat with speed. Either way, this is my predicted lineup. I think it works, 2-1 Roots.
It feels like we’re getting to the point where Roots are just trying to piece together what works best with who they have available. With Hackshaw out, I’m putting Nane back there despite the short rest. I’m going with Emrah as the right side center back, giving a little more distribution help. Rotating back into my starting 11 is Danny Gomez, I think he provides stability there. As for the attack, I’m going Formella, Johnny, Cedeno from left to right for a second consecutive start. 2-1 Roots.
In an ideal world you can put Hackshaw in a double pivot. Tamacas might not be best in that role, but whatever, I’d love to see him in a kind of inverted full back role. Its all the rage these days. Cedeno looked great as a right winger, but you also want Mfeka on the field. I also think you can’t drop Formella, but also I don’t think you can count on enough goals if he is the striker rather than the left winger. Hackshaw’s absence will likely be….notable. Here’s hoping the Roots can dig in regardless. 2-1 Oakland.
- The half-circle at the top of the 18-yard-box. ↩︎