Oakland Roots vs. Detroit City F.C. – Match Preview (July 29, 2023)

Game day again already! Oakland host NISA-rival Detroit City for the first time ever at 7:00 p.m. on Saturday, July 29 at Pioneer Stadium on the campus of CSU East Bay in Hayward. The match will be available on ESPN+ if you can’t make it out. You should probably try to be there though, because Keak da Sneak will performing at halftime and that is, for one reason or another, can’t miss entertainment.

At the prompting of some folks on the Discord (DM me on twitter if you need an invite), I think I will try to put together a “Haters’ Guide” that explains our collective grievances as Roots fans. Folks new to the team might not know what the deal with Detroit City is. Here’s what the deal with Detroit City is:

NISA was a complicated league in the best of times, and COVID was not the best of times. The inaugural NISA season was 2019-20, and involved eight teams including the Oakland Roots and did not go well, with the Roots finishing 0-3-3. The following spring, there was a new format of eight teams with some differences including Detroit City joining. The season started on February 28, 2020 and the teams played an average of 1.75 games before the season was called off.

The fall season was then very weird, with two or four-game (unbalanced) conference play followed by playoff groups like the World Cup. The Roots won their group 2-0-1 with a 2-1 loss to Detroit City, but after Oakland beat Chattanooga and Detroit City beat LA Force in the Semifinals, the Roots rematched Detroit City in the finals.

Overall, this could be a fun rivalry, and it sorta is1, but Detroit City fans talk an extreme amount of shit on the internet. I get that what you’re saying: I also talk an extreme amount of shit on the internet. But my shenanigans are cheeky and fun. And theirs are cruel and tragic. Making them not really shenanigans at all.

Around the Western Conference


Only two changes from the weekend. The Roots thrashed Lights just as we all expected, and Sacramento squeaked out a 4-0 win over Phoenix. This keeps Sac at the front of the pack and means Phoenix have to win their game in hand to be back in the bottom playoff spot. Meanwhile the Roots rose to third place, although things are so tight between second and eleventh that games in hand can shift a lot.

Detroit City’s Form

Detroit have only 16 goals on the season in 22 matches played, and three of those goals are own goals. Relatedly, Detroit played six matches between March 25 and April 29 in which they did not score any goals. They had a decent stretch with eleven points in five matches from mid-May to mid-June, but struggled again after that. On July 15 they fell 2-0 to Riverhounds in Pittsburgh, conceding within the first ten minutes of each half. FBREF says that Detroit City did not muster a shot on target in that match.

Detroit then hosted the now-struggling Louisville City on July 19 and got the win 2-0. Detroit hit the post twice in the second half, and had what I think was a goal not given in the first when (I’m pretty sure) the ball came off the underside of the crossbar and bounced in over the line before coming out. USL needs something like VAR.

This past weekend, Detroit hosted Monterey Bay, the difference a second-half own goal in Detroit’s favor.

Lol Tim Robinson.

I’m not sure about the own goal decision there, Suarez laces a ball through his defender, who has committed to the slide tackle. I’m not sure I actually understand how these decisions are ever made.

Detroit are better at home, 4-2-4, then they are on the road, 2-3-7, but given that they just won back-to-back home games, it’s also possible they have just turned a corner and are better than they were. Hopefully not, though, and a 1-0 home win over Monterey Bay is not the most intimidating result (please ignore the Roots’ last result).

Roots’ Form

March 11at San Antonio FCL13
March 19at RGV TorosD11
April 1vs New Mexico UnitedW10
April 8at Indy ElevenW30
April 15vs HartfordL12
April 23at LoudounL02
April 29vs Miami FCD00
May 6at Birmingham LegionW41
May 13vs Orb CountyW30
May 20at SacramentoL13
May 27vs San Diego LoyalW20
June 2at Colorado Springs SwitchbacksW10
June 10at Phoenix RisingD22
June 17vs Pittsburgh RiverhoundsD00
June 24vs Phoenix RisingD11
June 28vs RGV TorosL02
July 8at Tampa Bay RowdiesL03
July 12vs. Memphis 901 (rescheduled)D11
July 15at Monterey Bay Union F.C. of SeasideW31
July 22at El Paso LocomotivW31
July 26vs Las Vegas LightsW10
July 29vs Detroit City
August 4at Charleston Battery
August 19vs Colorado Springs Switchbacks
August 23at New Mexico United
August 26at Louisville City
September 2vs Sacramento
September 9at Las Vegas Lights
September 16vs FC Tulsa
September 23vs Monterey Bay Union F.C. of Seaside
September 30vs San Antonio FC
October 4at Orb County
October 7at Loyal
October 14El Paso Locomotiv

That Vegas game was stupid start to finish. Through the first half you were never really all that nervous, and the Roots absolutely should have had a penalty early on a handball in the box. I think the handball was shielded from both the referee and the side official, which is frustrating. USL needs something like VAR.

In the second half, Vegas completely took over the game in a really frustrating way. The Roots were at home against an awful team.

At one point in the second half, Carleton chipped Paul Blanchette from midfield and was only denied by, frankly, a remarkable read by Paul. Vegas had some other big chances, including one where Tabort Etaka made a terrible shot instead of squaring the pass for the tap-in. The Roots just did not get much going in the second half until my Modelo caught up to me and I was standing in line for the port-a-potties (necessitated because I guess the normal bathrooms went out of order). Anyway, in the 76th Emrah won a ball with a tackle that Vegas thought was unlawful, but the ball fell to Nane, who played the ball to Gomez. Gomez let it run through to Tamacas on the right wing who FLAWLESSLY weighted a low pass around the defense and into the path of Pelaez in a sprint for the one-touch finish. Honestly, it’s hard for me to say whether it was a better pass or a better finish. If Pelaez could finish like this going forward, though, he would see a lot more of these passes. The Roots had a chance for another in the 93rd, breaking away cleanly after forcing a turnover from a Vegas corner. Unfortunately, Pelaez did not make the same finish with more time to think about it. It almost mattered, as 20 second later Vegas should have equalized when some guy managed to bring down a looped pass that Klimenta couldn’t quite get his head to, and chipped a little shot in past Blanchette. Incredibly, though, Andrew Carleton lunged for the unnecessary tap-in and was called offside.

It was the wrong call2, but as our friend Wayne suggested to me on Thursday, we like to imagine the line judge whispering in Carleton’s ear after the game “where were you on January 6?” It’s lucky that USL doesn’t have anything like VAR and it really shouldn’t–VAR would ruin the league.

If you account for the missed penalty call, there is really no refereeing injustice here. If you account for the Roots’ missed chances, I think the luck basically balances out. If you account for moral superiority, I mean, come on.

Players to Watch

Putting “n/a” for Vegas almost jinxed that game, so even though Detroit are pretty tragic as well, I’ll write up their two attackers.

Ben Morris #9 – Twenty-four year old central striker Morris came up with the Ipswich Town academy and had a promising future derailed by an ACL tear in training in 2019 and then another ACL tear in August 2020. Prior to this, he had been featured on an England U19 team that also had now household names Trevoh Chalobah, Tariq Lamptey, Japhet Tanganga, and Conor Gallagher. Morris played his last Ipswich season on loan with GAIS in Sweden. This season with Detroit City he has three goals and an assist.

Maxi Rodriguez #21Not the Maxi Rodriguez you’re thinking of. This Maxi is from San Antonio and played collegiately at UNC Charlotte (the other 49ers) before signing with his home town team for the 2017 and 2018 season. Rodriguez has two goals and an assist–decent for a central midfielder.

  1. “Johnny Rodriguezm for the second straight game, has put Oakland in front” is now no longer a thing of the past. ↩︎
  2. The ball is between Carleton and the goal when it is played, so it does not matter that there is only one defender between Carleton and the goal. ↩︎

Lineup and Score Predictions


I think Jon’s lineup below is correct. I also think his score prediction is correct. Detroit City have had a couple good results, but nothing to make you particularly worried. My concern is that the Roots seem to play down to the competition, especially at home. Hopefully playing on Saturday in front of a bigger crowd will motivate the Roots to score early and often. Like Jon said, 2-0.


I’m going with the usual suspects but with Danny Gomez in for Napo Matsoso after the veteran midfielder left at halftime of the previous game. With that, I have Joseph Nane alongside Gomez. Aside from that, no changes. Roots win 2-0.


Congratulations, USL, you’ve awoken the beast, and now the beast is biting you back. Detroit is, apparently, terrible in attack, so I’m even more vigorously renewing my call for a back 4. Give me Hackshaw further forward, plz. Tempted to suggest starting Pelaez, as the man may have caught some form, but I’m not really arsed either way. I’m excited for another match that’s way too close! 1-0 Roots.

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