It’s the last game of the season. If they win, they head to the playoffs.
Under an overcast sky, the team was holding their last practice of the season at the field where the Oakland Raiders used to train.
Oakland Roots and Oakland Soul is the first ‘purpose-driven’ professional soccer team in the United States, focused on the community, its youth and growth for all.
"Oakland First" and "Rooted in Oakland" are not just slogans.
The team is focused on the community, with coaches and players both California natives and from around the globe.
As the players practice with training drills on the finely trimmed grass field, they’re surrounded by colorful messages on murals suspended from the fences, reinforcing the guiding values this socially aware team embraces.
As professional football, basketball and potentially baseball have bounced out of the East Bay, Oakland Roots is embracing the notion that a UFL team can be a social force for good and have an impact on the community.
He’s played soccer since he was four.
The game is his lifelong passion, and he admits, he’s excited about living his dream.
"I think we’re growing so quickly, and this is just the beginning still. We have a long way to go, but we’re growing at a super rapid pace and I’m super excited and pleased as to what this team will become," he said.
Coach Noah Delgado is from Fremont and says, the time is right for the team, the town and professional soccer.
"You’ve got big tournaments coming to the U.S., including the Copa America, the World Cup. The talent level has grown in the Bay Area exponentially. And coming to the game, you’re going to get an atmosphere that’s super fantastic. People that care, give support, and you can feel the energy, the Oakland energy at our games," said Delgado.
Tickets are selling briskly for Saturday night’s game, as in addition to being the last game of the season, it’s also fan appreciation night.
Rodriguez shared his enthusiasm for the fans and the chance to head to the playoffs.
"We’re excited. It’s a must-win game, so we’re going to go in there and treat it like a final. Hopefully, the crowd shows up and I know they will. We’re excited, and we’re ready, so it should be fun," said Rodriguez.
If the Oakland Roots make the playoffs, the game will be broadcast on KTVU Plus.
Alice Wertz is a freelance reporter for KTVU Fox 2 News. She can be reached at Alice.Wertz@Fox.com X/Twitter: AlicesTake Instagram/Threads: WayIseesIt