Oakland Roots SC arrives in the Championship for the 2020 season, where opposing teams can expect a warm reception at Laney Stadium. | Photo courtesy Oakland Roots SC
Founded in 2018, Oakland Roots SC makes its debut in the USL Championship in the 2021 season and has been busy building what looks on paper to be a solid roster with some notable names as it enters the campaign. Based at Laney Stadium in the heart of Oakland, the newcomers will be hoping to find quick success as they enter new rivalries regionally with Sacramento Republic FC and the rest of California’s clubs.
Oakland made a major splash to begin its offseason, acquiring Oakland native Saalih Muhammad from New Mexico United, but the biggest signing for the club may have been Wal Fall, who is likely to join Muhammad in the center of Roots’ midfield. Fall has impressed throughout his time in the Championship, last season leading Saint Louis FC to the postseason, and could be the dynamo that makes Oakland tick.
Other newcomers include Curacao National Team goalkeeper Zeus De La Paz, who brings experience from the Netherlands – his home country – and England in his career. He’ll likely back a defense that includes former USL Championship Final-winner Tarek Morad and Akeem Ward, while another former Saint Louis player in Tyler Blackwood will look to provide the goals in attack.
Wal Fall, Midfielder: Experienced veteran has been key to past club’s success
Tyler Blackwood, Forward: English striker has recorded 34 goals in the Championship all-time
Zeus De La Paz, Goalkeeper: Native of the Netherlands has appeared twice for Curacao internationally
Lindo Mfeka, Midfielder: South African helped Reno to earn best record in 2020 regular season
The first new arrival following Oakland Roots SC joining the Championship, local standout Saalih Muhammad could have a key role to play in central midfield this season. | Photo courtesy Oakland Roots SC
Saalih Muhammad, Midfielder
A native of Richmond, Calif. just outside Oakland, Saalih Muhammad made history as the first signing in Roots’ Championship history as he arrived from New Mexico United. The central midfielder had one of the great moments of the 2020 Championship season with an outstanding strike from long distance against Colorado Springs, but its his ball-winning and distribution that will be most important for Roots in a tough Pacific Division.
Wal Fall, Midfielder
One of the best two-way midfielders in the Championship in recent seasons, Wal Fall arrives in Oakland as a potential centerpiece for the club’s lineup as it arrives in the league. The 6-foot-3 German has recorded 28 goals and 11 assists in more than 100 appearances in the Championship’s regular season since arriving in the league before the 2016 season, and has an impressive record of having been part of playoff teams every season. If Fall remains at the top of his game, Oakland could be a dangerous side.
Dario Pot (left) moves into the Head Coach position at Oakland Roots SC for their first season in the Championship having previously assisted Jordan Ferrell, now the club's Sporting Director.
Dario Pot (1st Season)
Previously an assistant coach to Roots Sporting Director Jordan Ferrell, Dario Pot takes the reins for the club’s first season in the Championship as Head Coach. An experienced coach in the professional ranks, Pot holds the UEFA Pro Coaching License and has seen his career take him to the Netherlands, Bosnia, Australia as well as the United States. This season could be a challenging one for Oakland, but Pot has some good pieces to work with as the side looks to record a successful year.
8 Over the past four seasons since 2017, eight newcomers to the USL Championship have made the USL Championship Playoffs in their first season. Oakland will be hoping to emulate those predecessors as it takes on a tough Pacific Division lineup.