An excellent first half highlighted by goals from Prince Saydee and Jeciel Cedeńo propelled Hartford Athletic to a 2-1 victory over Oakland Roots SC on the road tonight, earning them their first USL Championship victory of the 2023 season.
Tonight’s match began with great offensive pace from both teams. Hartford got out on the front foot, pressing Oakland in their half and entering their third three times in the opening four minutes and forcing a corner kick. Oakland responded in the fifth minute when Edgardo Rito got behind Hartford’s back line and challenged Richard Sánchez, forcing him to make his first save of the night at the near post. Quickly the other way, Kyle Edwards got behind the Oakland defense, but Rito made a strong recovery to muscle him off the ball before he could enter the 18.
The Green and Blue broke through in the late stages of the half when Prince Saydee and Jeciel Cedeño combined for back to back goals in a four minute span. In the 31st minute, Triston Hodge led a ball into Oakland’s half for Antoine Hoppenot, who made a run up the left flank all the way into the penalty area. He made a pass intended for the streaking Kyle Edwards that raddled off an Oakland defender to Prince Saydee, who slotted his shot past Oakland keeper Paul Blanchette for his fourth goal of the season, continuing his red hot start. Hartford continued to impose their will in Oakland’s third, generating a chance for Jeciel Cedeño just four minutes after Saydee’s goal. Cedeño received the ball at the top left of the 18, split two defenders, and placed his shot with precision into the bottom right corner of the net. The goal was Cedeño’s first in the USL Championship, and serves as an exclamation point to his quality run of form to start this year. A brilliant half for Hartford, they put four shots on target and had 16 touches in Oakland’s box.
The opening minutes of the second half were spent in Hartford’s third, as Roots SC fired away on the comeback trail. They took four shots, forced three corners, and owned 80% of the possession in the first 15 minutes. As the home side continued to knock on the door, they struck a golden opportunity in the 73rd minute. They were awarded a free kick just outside Hartford’s box, and Dariusz Formella’s shot deflected off the elbow of Triston Hodge, resulting in a handball and a penalty kick for Oakland. Formella took the penalty and cut the Hartford lead in half, giving his team a chance to find an equalizer in the final 15 minutes of the match.
The Green and Blue tightened up defensively in the following minutes after Formella’s goal, holding Oakland without a shot until the match reached stoppage time. In the 91st minute, Formella looped a corner into the box that was punched into the air by Sànchez, fell to Anuar Peláez, who’s header went just wide of the net. Peláez had one more shot on target a minute later that posed little threat to Sánchez, who caught the shot for his second and final save of the night. That would be Oakland’s final chance, as Hartford held on through five minutes of stoppage time to seal the 2-1 victory.
The Hartford back line had a busy night, totalling 45 clearances. Niall Logue led the way, making 13 clearances, and Richard Sánchez added four clearances to his two saves. Matt Sheldon and Ash Apollon had five tackles apiece, and Triston Hodge swiped four interceptions.
Hartford Athletic take three points into a bye week, and are back in action in Birmingham on Sunday, April 30th to wrap up this three game road trip.
Shots (On-Target): Hartford 7 Oakland 15
Corners: Hartford 6 (5) Oakland 16 (6)
Fouls: Hartford 10 Oakland 9
Offsides: Hartford 3 Oakland 2
Possession: Hartford 32.1% Oakland 67.9%
Passing Accuracy: Hartford 69.6% Oakland 83.6%
Saves: Hartford 2 Oakland 3
31′ – Saydee (Hoppenot)
35′ – Cedeño
73′ – Formella
27′ – Rodriguez (Yellow)
42′ – Hodge (Yellow)
71′ – Cedeño (Yellow)
73′ – Edwards (Yellow)
90+4:00′ – Sánchez (Yellow)
HARTFORD ATHLETIC STARTING LINEUP
1 (GK) Richard Sánchez, 5 (DF) Triston Hodge, 50 (DF) Niall Logue, 3 (DF) Kaveh Rad, 29 (FW) Antoine Hoppenot (Filipe, 63′); 11 (FW) Jeciel Cedeño, 10 (MF) Danny Barrera (Merrill, 74′); 28 (MF) Conor McGlynn (Apollon, 51′); 16 (DF) Matt Sheldon, 17 (FW) Kyle Edwards, 7 (FW) Prince Saydee
OAKLAND ROOTS STARTING LINEUP
20 (GK) Paul Blanchette, 14 (DF) Daniel Barbir, 6 (DF) Tarek Morad, 30 (DF) Bryan Tamacas, 23 (DF) Guillermo Diaz (Wright, 85′);72 (DF) Edgardo Rito, 9 (FW) Dariusz Formella, 4 (MF) Joseph Nane (Hackshaw, 86); 8 (MF) Irakoze Donasiyano, 10 (MF) Lindo Mfeka, 17 (FW) Jonathan Rodriguez (Peláez, 67′)