Oakland Roots got the job done with a big 2-1 win over New Mexico on Wednesday, walking into Saturday’s match at Louisville in third place. Roots went up 2-0 with goals by Anuar Paláez in the 42nd minute and Trayvone Reid ten minutes later in the 52nd, but New Mexico found a consolation prize at 90+2′ when Sergio Rivas scored off of a corner kick.
Head to Jack’s match recap for his thoughts on a standout defensive match. Oakland leaves its mid-week match back in third place of the Western Conference, here are our Oakland Roots talking points from Wednesday.
Danny Barbir’s impact
Danny Barbir is proving with each appearance just how important he is for Oakland Roots. His assist to Anuar Pelaez was on-the-button accurate following a perfect run down the left side. Oakland’s second goal, meanwhile, all started with Barbir–reading the New Mexico pass to pounce on the ball and move it into the penalty area, sending a well-weighted pass to Trayvone Reid for the goal.
He’s been a do-it-all player for Noah Delgado as a ball handler, distributor, defender, and can even line up a shot a couple of times per game. Already with a career high in minutes at 2,247 thus far, Delgado is enabling Barbir as a passer at a higher rate than at any point of his career–increasing his career high in assists to three from just one in his six years as a professional.
Barbir nearly had a goal in the 32nd minute, but he couldn’t get a handle on the ball as New Mexico goal keeper Alex Tambakis batted the ball away from his back. If he scored, it would’ve matched his career high.
It’ll be interesting to see if Barbir can play on Saturday at Louisville, which would mark Danny’s third game in slightly over a week.
Anuar Pelaez & Trayvone Reid’s best performance?
That may have been Anuar Pelaez and Trayvone Reid’s best performance in an Oakland Roots uniform, both getting on the scoresheet after being international signings over the offseason. It’s an encouraging sign for both players given they haven’t panned out exactly as planned.
For Pelaez, his performance was a testament to the quick work Oakland did on the counter attack after finishing with just 12 touches on the ball, using his speed to press the back line and put himself in a good position for his goal. He was only credited with one touch inside the penalty area, but he made it count right in front of the net after receiving a perfect pass from Barbir for the score.
The 30-year-old Colombian is certainly one of the faster players on the team, it’s just been finding a way to utilize his strengths. He came out of the match at the 65th minute We’ll see the extent of his injury; if he’s included on the subs list, that would be an encouraging sign.
Reid, meanwhile, showed how his speed and technical footwork can be a gamechanger. He’s a much different player than Lindo Mfeka, who tends to drop deeper for possession and rotates into the central midfield. Reid is more inclined to play more on the wing, evident by his heatmap below.
At just 23-years-old, the Jamaican national has also struggled to find consistency and crack the starting lineup but he’s showing promise. In 20 appearances, he has just six starts, now scoring his second goal of the season.
Although Reid was an international signing who we thought could be an instant starter, it’s become more evident that he needed time to adjust. With Delgado showing he can adjust the system for opponents, Reid’s speed will be needed against those possessive teams.
Is Danny Gomez undroppable?
It’s fair to start this section pointing out Danny Gomez just played back-to-back 90-minute games against Colorado Springs and New Mexico, so it may be time to give the man a rest at Louisville on Saturday. But how great has Danny Gomez been for Oakland Roots? He’s supplanted himself as a routine starter in the midfield and after being an addition off of Project 51O–a true demonstration of the organization’s development mentality.
Gomez has now appeared in 15 games with 12 starts, currently the third most active central midfielder on the team behind Napo Matsoso and Joseph Nane–who is lining up at center back more predominantly, so he’s really the No. 2 central midfielder thus far. This all spells to Danny eventually locking down a full-time starter role by the end of this season and being Roots’ top midfield option in 2024. He’s already proven to be a quality distributor; if he can bring his defensive ability up towards Napo and Nane’s level, he’ll allow Oakland to match him with a more offensive-minded option next year–like Koze Donasiyano.
In 90 minutes, Gomez created one scoring chance and completed 83% of his passes (24/29), sent five passes into the final third. However, he was just one of five on ground duels.
Roots holding just 37 percent of the ball was an example of Noah Delgado’s game planning. Knowing New Mexico was a team that wants to control possession and wear down defenses, Oakland hit United on the counter by using their speed–recording 11 shots with six on target and three big scoring chances.
Roots’ ability to beat teams without the ball has been a stark contrast to Juan Guerra’s Oakland, which desperately wanted to hold the ball upwards of nearly 70 percent. So far this season, Roots have held the lesser side of possession in seven of its wins, including New Mexico, Charleston, El Paso, Monterey, Colorado Springs, San Diego and Indy.
Availability for Saturday vs. Louisville?
Hackshaw has earned the confidence of Noah Delgado in midfield and central defense, and his presence was sorely missed during the Gold Cup. His availability, as well as the slightly hobbled Paul Blanchette, will be essential in Louisville this weekend and the rest of the season.https://oaklandrootsblog.com/2023/08/24/match-analysis-player-ratings-oakland-roots-win-2-1-over-new-mexico-on-solid-defensive-work/
The squad rotation on the short week will be something to keep an eye on.
It’s worth noting that Hackshaw and Paul had knocks in the final minutes of the game, but I’m thinking it was minor. For Hackshaw, however, he played a 90-minute game–so how will that impact his availability for Saturday? Playing full 90s on Wednesday included Paul, Hackshaw, Barbir, Gomez, Tamacas, Memo Diaz, and Emrah Klimenta. Pelaez left the game with an injury as well.
Barbir has proven he’s among the most fit players on the team, can he play 270 minutes in slightly over a week? I wouldn’t be surprised to see him rest, but equally wouldn’t be surprised to see him start. Emrah proved he can play back-to-back 90s in the 2021 season, perhaps he still has that fitness.