SAN DIEGO – A goal and assist by Lindo Mfeka saw Oakland Roots SC end the postseason aspirations of San Diego Loyal SC as the No. 7 seed took a 3-0 victory at a sold-out Torero Stadium to advance in the Western Conference Quarterfinals of the 2022 USL Championship Playoffs presented by Hisense.
Charlie Dennis opened the scoring for Roots SC late in the first half before Mfeka added a second shortly after the halftime break in a contest that saw No. 2 seed SD Loyal end the game with eight players as its frustrations spilled over late in the contest.
Playing the first home postseason contest in club history, SD Loyal opened on the front foot and went close to opening the scoring in the fifth minute. A low cross from the left by Tumi Moshobane was deflected at the near post and fell to Thomas Amang, whose shot from eight yards went just over the crossbar. The pressure continued from the hosts as Charlie Adams was twice denied by Oakland goalkeeper Paul Blanchette, first on a low free kick to the right corner and then on a near-post effort from the left side of the penalty area as San Diego recorded the first five shots of the game.
Roots SC’s first shot of the game, though, produced the game’s first goal in the 36th minute. Dennis began and ended the move that delivered the lead, swinging a pass out to the left flank to Mfeka, who flicked a pass into the penalty area toward Juan Carlos Azocar. The Venezuelan was put under immediate pressure but the attempt to clear by the hosts deflected off Mfeka as he cut into the box and came to Dennis at the edge of the 18-yard area, and the English midfielder unleashed a brilliant shot into the top-right corner of the net.
SD Loyal almost responded immediately when Amang created space at the top of Oakland’s penalty area but fired his powerful shot just over the top-right corner of the net. The Cameroonian went close again a few minutes later with a curling effort toward the right corner that Blanchette had to parry wide of the net as it skipped awkwardly in front of him, but Oakland was able to get to the halftime break with the advantage.
After controlling much of the first half, however, San Diego gifted Roots SC its second goal of the night seven minutes into the second half. A loose pass by Kyle Adams back to goalkeeper Koke Vegas was seized on by Mfeka, and the South African won the race to the ball before finishing into the open net.
SD Loyal regained control of the game as Oakland was happy to try and remain organized and maintain its defensive pressure, but the hosts almost pulled back into the game with 19 minutes to go as Kyle Vassell controlled a looping pass into the top of the penalty area and pivoted for a bicycle kick that flashed just wide of the left post. The hosts were reduced to nine men in the 76th minute, however, as Amang received a pair of yellow cards in quick succession to be sent off, and Alejandro Guido received his second yellow card of the night in the aftermath as the two teams came together.
San Diego was reduced to eight men with two minutes to go as Grant Stoneman was also sent off for his second yellow card of the night, following which Oakland wrapped up its victory through Matias Fissore as the game moved into stoppage time, earning a trip to face San Antonio FC in its second Western Conference Semifinal appearance in as many postseasons.
USLChampionship.com Player of the Match
Lindo Mfeka, Oakland Roots SC – The South African playmaker notched a goal and assist for the visitors and had two shots and two chances created overall to help guide Oakland into the second weekend of the postseason.
OAK – Charlie Dennis (Lindo Mfeka) 36’
OAK – Lindo Mfeka 52’
OAK – Matias Fissore (Ottar Magnus Karlsson) 90+1’