Oakland Roots in third with win over Las Vegas; RootsBlog MOTM, Paul Blanchette, Tamacas & Cedeño connection, and more

It wasn’t pretty, elegant, or overpowering, but a win is a win–and for Oakland Roots, its 1-nil victory over Las Vegas Lights on Wednesday marked their third consecutive match to take all three points. The club has now increased its highest ranking in franchise history to third place in the Western Conference.

With Oakland set to play Detroit City on Saturday, they have an opportunity to solidify their spot in the top three before their two-week break following August 4’s match at Charleston Battery.

Roots started the match strongly and it looked like a goal would come earlier than Anuar Pelaez’s winner in the 75th minute with Oakland’s defense forcing multiple mistakes by Vegas. Trayvone Reid arguably should’ve drawn a penalty kick in the second minute, but there was no call. Napo Matsoso had a shot on target in the seventh after winning possession deep in LV’s attacking area. Johnny Rodriguez then had a shot cleared off of the line in the 13th minute after Oakland forced another giveaway.

Jeciel Cedeño nearly took advantage of a giveaway as well in the 25th, but his feed to Johnny led to a corner. Another Vegas mistake in the 27th led to a free kick just outside the area on the left side, resulting in a ball-in from Memo Diaz hitting the post and ricochetting to Neveal Hackshaw–who took a shot that made contact with Tyler Bagley elbow, but no call was made (it should be reviewable, at least, USL).

But from there, Oakland’s quality tapered off and it carried into the second half.

From there, Las Vegas generated five big scoring chances but didn’t convert on any of them. Marcelo Lage had a look from a corner in the 48th minute but failed to make contact. In the 51st, Issa Rayyan had a good look, but his shot went wide. Josh Dolling and Tabort Etaka Preston couldn’t put away 1-on-1 opportunities in the 67th and 75th before Pelaez’s winner.

Anuar entered the match in the 72nd minute, giving Noah Delgado just about as close to an assist as you can get from a coaching perspective. Three minutes later, Pelaez got the winner on an absolutely stellar run in between two Vegas defenders. It started with Bryan Tamacas receiving a pass from Joseph Nane, taking one dribble before dropping a dime to Pelaez, who used his speed to get in behind.

Take a look at the still shot of where Pelaez is at the point Tamacas sends the pass. He starts his run a few feet behind the nearest defender, finishing in front of two Lights’ center backs.

Here are our Oakland Roots talking points.

RootsBlog Man of the Match – Anuar Pelaez & Danny Barbir

Anuar Pelaez’s impact off of the bench was much needed in gaining the three points. At the time of his substitution in the 72nd minute, Roots were struggling to create anything going toward Las Vegas’ net with just two shot attempts in the second half at the time of his goal. His first-touch finish was absolutely perfect with the clinicality usually seen from someone in a great run of form–which hasn’t been the case for him so far this season with 14 of his 20 appearances coming as a sub. It’s worth mentioning that his 20 appearances are tied for the team-lead with Paul Blanchette and Danny Barbir, despite having just 586 total minutes.

With Darek Formella gone, Oakland will be relying on a mix of Johnny Rodriguez and Pelaez to carry the 9-role going forward. Noah Delgado is clearly looking to get him minutes, perhaps he can keep making an impact as he continues regaining his form.

As for Danny Barbir, center-backs have seldomly been our Man of the Match recipient given it’s easy to overlook defensive contributions in favor of goal scorers and offensive playmakers. This time, it was clear he deserved the honor with his impact as a defender and his ability to play long passes into space.

Barbir finished with FotMob’s highest rating at 7.9, completing 84 percent of his passes (49/58), seven passes into the final third, and completed six of nine long balls. Furthermore, he recorded five interceptions, nine recoveries, and won 2/3 ground duels.

It marks both players’ first time receiving our Man of the Match award.

The Bryan Tamacas & Jeciel Cedeño connection

Credit: Oakland Roots SC
Credit: Oakland Roots SC

How nice is it to have Bryan Tamacas slated to go for the rest of the season? The outside back has been instrumental in Oakland’s three-game winning streak, but perhaps his connection with newcomer Jeciel Cedeño is one of the larger catalysts to the system’s success. The two already have a strong connection, finding each other on the right side with ease after spending just a small batch of matches together. How will this duo be performing after even more time?

Tamacas could be another player deserving of a MOTM shout with his assist to Pelaez for the game-winner–it couldn’t have been placed better. He earned a 7.5 FotMob rating with his assist and creating two scoring chances for Roots, including his header on target in the _ minute.

Cedeño, meanwhile, looks like the answer Roots needed at right wing in exchange for Edgardo Rito. That being considered, it’s becoming safe to say Roots are getting the better end out of the trade–a nice feather in the cap of technical director Jordan Ferrell.

It wasn’t Jeciel’s best performance with a 6.5 FotMob rating and just one of six successful dribbles, but he still created one scoring chance and had seven recoveries of possession. It will be interesting to see how the two continue to grow in Noah Delgado’s system.

Paul The Wall, Oakland’s shot-stopping savior

We debated over naming Paul Blanchette MOTM due to his incredible leaping save to thwart Andrew Carleton’s shot from near mid-pitch. The match could’ve easily spun in the opposite direction, but Paul just had to stay his consistent self.

Blanchette earned a 7.7 FotMob rating with three saves including the one diving save on Carleton, stopped two shots from inside the box, and completed five of nine long balls.

Oakland must stop playing down to weak opponents

Paul’s leaping save to stop Carleton’s attempt in the 61st minute is a testament to just how difficult Oakland made this game on itself. The play was a result of a giveaway from Joseph Nane, leading to the insurrectionists’ shot attempt from about five yards past the midway line. And it wasn’t the only botched play from Roots’ defense in the second half. It easily could’ve been a 3-1 or 4-1 win for Vegas with proper finishing on their five big chances.

For some reason, Roots have not been able to put together strong performances against teams far below the standard Oakland is looking to maintain. Poor performances have come against bottom-dwelling teams like Hartford, Loudoun, and RGV, while also dropping points twice to 10th-ranked Phoenix.

With Detroit City up next, which ranks 9th in the East, Oakland has another chance to take points against a struggling team.

One thought on “Oakland Roots in third with win over Las Vegas; RootsBlog MOTM, Paul Blanchette, Tamacas & Cedeño connection, and more

  1. Had so many emotions going through me as I was watching this! Paul deserves that clean sheet and Oakland the 3+! Curious to know any thoughts on Detroit next!

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