The last time Las Vegas and Oakland Roots faced off in Hayward, Roots were frankly lucky to escape with the three points in a 1-nil win. At some point, luck swings the other way. Tonight was that point in a disappointing 3-1 loss to the last-place Lights, giving Oakland its third loss in a row. But chalking up this loss up to luck does Vegas a disservice. As much as it pains Oakland fans to say anything nice about a club that exists in the same city that swiped our local football and (soon) baseball teams, LV deserves credit.
Vegas’ defense bent but didn’t break aside from a penalty in the 10th minute, which itself was questionable when a cross by Jeciel Cedeño targeted Wolfgang Prentice and in the second half, and then came out swinging in the second half.
Two of Vegas’ three goals were bangers, but any time you score two goals in the space of two minutes, you do something right. Head coach Isidro Sánchez deserves credit for keeping his team motivated in a difficult season to earn a statement win tonight. Las Vegas scored its first goal in the 56th by Azriel Gonzalez when unmarked a few yards above the area, sending a rocket to the bottom right of the net. Just one minute later before Oakland could catch its bearings, Vegas struck again after Gonzalez sent a long pass to Daniel Rios–who squared a pass to Tyler Bagley right in front of the net, chesting in the goal.
Bagley’s third goal in the 89th minute put the game away, and it was a beauty. Bagley dribbled towards the penalty area unmarked, taking a left-footed curling shot to the top-left bin.
On the other side of the coin, there’s a certain letdown feeling from Oakland Roots after this game. One layer of disappointment stemming from allowing a game you had some degree of control over with a 1-nil win spiral out of your control. Another layer being reality that aside from that penalty, there were few other notable chances to speak of. Oakland finished the night with 10 shots after having just one in the first half, while just two shot attempts were on target.
Oakland finished the night with 64 percent of possession, but there’s no use having loads of possession if you can’t do anything with it. This result is in contention with the home loss against Rio Grande Valley for the biggest blemish of the season. Noah Delgado will have to turn things around by getting the most out of the players he has at his disposal. Bryan Tamacas and Neveal Hackshaw’s absence due to the International Break doesn’t help, and young players such as Wolfgang Prentice must be ready to contribute at a higher level.
The Lights were too bright for this team, and with tougher opponents waiting on the schedule to close the regular season like San Antonio, Orange County, and San Diego, Oakland must find a way to dig itself out of its current rut. After contending for a home-playoff draw, Roots are clinging to a top-eight spot with 40 points, just three points from eighth place and four from ninth and out of playoff contention.
Up next is the Roots’ last Eastern Conference opponent this season FC Tulsa back at Pioneer Stadium. Oakland will have to find a way to get back in the win column, or that playoff potential will continue to wane.
Las Vegas Lights
Coach: Isidro Sánchez
1 Alan Diaz; 4 Lucas Stauffer, 5 Marcelo Lage (YC 54′), 98 Timothie Zali, 21 Alejandro Mitrano; 11 Azriel Gonzalez, 6 Alexander Romero (YC 27′), 22 Andres Jimenez (YC 75′), 23 Jordan Ayimbila (YC 90+4′); 12 Tyler Bagley (YC 70′), 19 Daniel Rios
77′ 14 Josh Dolling for Rios
83′ 3 Zach Carroll for Gonzalez
90′ 2 Pablo Soares for Ayimbila
Coach: Noah Delgado
20 Paul Blanchette; 21 Emrah Klimenta, 6 Tarek Morad, 14 Danny Barbir; 23 Memo Diaz, 8 Irakoze Donasiyano (YC 45+3′), 7 Napo Matsoso (YC 88′), 19 Wolfgang Prentice; 23 Jeciel Cedeño, 17 Johnny Rodriguez, 10 Lindo Mfeka
20’ 11 Trayvone Reid for Morad (injury)
82′ 2 Baboucarr Njie for Prentice
82′ 18 Anuar Pelaez for Donasiyano
12′ 0-1 Rodriguez (penalty)
56′ 1-1 Gonzalez (Rios)
57′ 2-1 Bagley (Rios)
89′ 3-1 Bagley (Stauffer)