OAKLAND, Calif. – Oakland Roots SC announced on Tuesday it had acquired midfielder Saalih Muhammad through a transfer from New Mexico United, bringing the California native home for his eighth season in the professional ranks.
“If someone asks me, ‘what does Oakland mean to you?’ my reply is that Oakland is leadership, creativity, community, and resilience,” said Muhammad in an open letter posted to announce his arrival with Roots. “Our experiences and environment shape our sense of self and I witnessed the power of alchemy in Oakland as a youth. With that said, always know your roots. Because without a firm grasp and connection to them you can become forever lost in the wind.
“Unable to tap into the limitless power of alchemy implanted as a seed deep within our soul waiting to be watered. We are never alone when our ancestors walk with us. I was never alone on any part of my journey. My family, community, faith, and ancestors were always there with me and a part of me.”
Muhammad spent the past two seasons playing for United, where he made 37 appearances. The 25-year-old scored his first goal in the professional ranks this past season against Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC with a highlight-reel finish that is currently in the Final of the Championship’s Fans’ Choice Goal of the Year competition.
A defensive midfielder, Muhammad spent time overseas in Croatia developing in the Dinamo Zagreb youth Academy before joining the professional ranks. Muhammed began his professional career with NK HAŠK in 2015 before joining Croatia Đakovo and then returning to the United States and signing with the San Francisco Deltas for the 2017 season.
A torn Achilles tendon in preseason ruled Muhammad out for the year with the Deltas, and he subsequently signed with the Championship’s Penn FC the following year where he made his professional debut. Muhammad has made 51 appearances overall in the Championship, including helping New Mexico to the postseason in each of its first two seasons.
This past season he completed 81.6 percent of passes while posting a rate of 53.2 passes per 90 minutes. Muhammed also recorded 15 interceptions, 15 clearances and won 9 of 12 tackles, 35 of 67 duels and 9 of 11 aerials.