Oakland Roots initial roster for the 2024 season was announced, marking the official start to the organization’s offseason.
Roots welcomed back 15 total players. Below is a current list of how the roster is shaping up.
Goal Keepers (2): Paul Blanchette, Tim Syrel.
Center Backs (0):
Outside Backs (4): Memo Diaz, Baboucarr Njie, Wolfgang Prentice, Bryan Tamacas.
Midfielders: (5) Irakoze Donasiyano, Daniel Gomez, Neveal Hackshaw, Ryan Her, Napo Matsoso.
Forwards (4): Jeciel Cedeño, Lindo Mfeka, Trayvone Reid, Johnny Rodriguez.
The headline returner of the bunch is El Salvador outside back Bryan Tamacas, while the outside back spot is looking pretty much complete with Baboucarr Njie and Memo Diaz competing for time. Wolfgang Prentice slots in as a multifaceted backup, and perhaps a final addition from Project 51O could bring up the fifth spot.
But the largest takeaway from the initial roster is there are currently no center backs under contract after Danny Barbir, Emrah Klimenta, Tarek Morad, and Joseph Nane all departed on expired deals. The lone player returning who appeared at the position is Neveal Hackshaw, who is listed as a midfielder in the club’s announcement–a good indicator of Noah Delgado’s plans for the T&T veteran.
So, what does all this mean for both the back line and midfield?
For the center back spot, the question by season’s end was who would take the fall for the two-month skid, and it has evidently come to the back trio. A team source confirmed addressing the back line is at the club’s forefront given they need to replace all three positions. The blog has received word that one starting caliber right-side center back is already in the works.
As for Barbir, Klimenta, and Morad, the latter two appear to be the more likely scenarios if they are comfortable being depth options. Barbir is not currently an option, per source.
To the midfield, Roots elected to bring back the entire cast of Hackshaw, Napo Matsoso, Irakoze Donasiyano, and Danny Gomez. Theoretically, Hackshaw instantly slots into the starting role and Gomez could be in the pole position to play opposite of him. Gomez will compete with Napo, who provides defensive-minded depth. Koze, who has shown shiftiness in possession after returning from a lengthy injury, will also compete with Gomez for time.
A team source suggests the players available in the midfield makes it a lesser priority going forward. Project 51O midfielder Etsgar Cruz, who just turned 18, will likely wrap up that area. The club is sees high potential in Cruz after getting 22 minutes in two appearances, recording three shot attempts in 2023.
Now to the front line. Roots bring back Jeciel Cedeño, Lindo Mfeka, Trayvone Reid, and Johnny Rodriguez–closing the door on Anuar Peláez after a one-year project.
With Peláez gone, Roots will have a position to fill in the attack. Multiple team sources confirmed Oakland has a new international striker in the works.
For the front, the hope is Reid shows more promise in his second USL Championship run at just 23 years old while Cedeño hits the ground running in his second year under Delgado. Rodriguez, meanwhile, showed ability as a starter with 12 goals in his debut year as a full-time starter. A source could see another attacking-minded player being brought in.
Luis Saldaña is another Project 51O candidate who can round out the attacking options after getting him 48 minutes in five appearances. Roots are also likely done at goal keeper with Paul “The Wall” Blanchette, Tim Syrel, and a final Project 51O callup.
We’ll provide more information as Roots’ offseason progresses. Provided is tracker for all of the club’s news and transactions.