Oakland Roots lays down deep roots through the signing of several talented Oakland born and raised players
Oakland Roots Sports Club, a club committed to bringing professional soccer to Oakland, has made its first major headway in helping to provide a platform for local players through the signing of several locally based talents. Nikolai Littleton, Kyle Gavce, Javier Valdez-Raya, Francisco Mendoza, Josue Macias, Andres Plascencia and Juan Vasquez have all signed on to represent Oakland Roots development partner Oakland Leopards in the Fall qualifying rounds of the US Open Cup. Julio Cervantes, announced yesterday, also joins the Oakland contingent of players seeking to establish roots for professional soccer in Oakland.
“These signing mark clearly our intention to provide a platform for Oakland based players to aspire for professional soccer,” said Club President and Director of Soccer Benno Nagel. “These are all guys who bleed Oakland. Their commitment to our club and this project extends much farther than just the soccer field.”
Nikolai Littleton is an alumni of Oakland based, East Bay United Bay Oaks. A versatile central defensive midfielder, Littleton was a first team all-conference player at Santa Barbara City College before transferring to play at Division 1 soccer program Gonzaga University. Following his collegiate career, Nikolai spent a brief period living and playing in the lower divisions of English soccer, before returning to the US to join PDL side SF City FC. "Nikolai is a player we're excited to bring into the fold for Roots. He's a true holding midfielder who has tremendous range in his passing ability, especially in his ability to switch the point of attack and to strike a dead ball. His experience in both the UK and in the PDL provide him with a high level of confidence for the level he can compete at and will bring a lot of experience to the middle of the park for us."
Kyle Gavce makes his way to Oakland Roots following a standout career at City College of San Francisco where he played a major role during his two years there in propelling CCSF to their status as one of the top junior college programs in the state. The Oakland native has captained the Oakland Leopards of the SFSFL for the last several seasons while also competing with Napa Valley 1839 FC of the NPSL. "Kyle is a player who's pride and personality are unmatched by many I've come across. His versatility as either a central defender or outside back will provide us with a few options to look at him at but he's someone who has the mentality to compete wherever he would play on the field. If you asked him to play in the goal, I guarantee he would approach it with confidence and self-belief. Those qualities are hard to find in many players but most importantly with Kyle, his commitment to Oakland and the service of Oakland makes us very excited to have him with us."
Javier Valdez-Raya is no stranger to Oakland, having grown up locally in the Town, including playing for several years with Oakland Leopards before moving on to Napa Valley 1839 FC of the NPSL. Valdez spent two seasons at City College of San Francisco where he helped the team achieve multiple trips to the California state postseason playoffs, including a trip to the State finals. “Javier is a goalkeeper with a very high ceiling. What he lacks in height he makes up in his positioning and his ability to cover the goal. He’s a guy who has already been recognized multiple times as an NPSL team of the week honoree and is really now on that bubble between being a top semiprofessional level goalkeeper and one who can make a living playing professionally. Napa Valley didn’t qualify for the Open Cup due to their not finishing in the top positons of the conference this last season which opened the possibility for us to pick up Javier for the cup. We’re lucky to have him.”
Francisco Mendoza is another Napa Valley 1839 FC who has joined on for the cup due to Napa not qualifying through last season’s league play. Having captained Napa for the last several seasons, Mendoza has established himself as one of the top players in the NPSL’s Golden Gate Conference. “Francisco is a top player, who can play as a forward or a central attacking midfielder. He naturally likes to come back a bit for the ball and has the ability to turn a defender when doing so, positioning himself to play some very dangerous passes in behind. And in the box, he’s clinical which is always a prerequisite for an attacking player.”
Josue Macias comes to the club following both an impressive youth and collegiate career. After competing within the youth academy of Bay Oaks Soccer Club (now East Bay United Bay Oaks), Macias went on to Livermore based Las Positas College where he earned 2nd team all-conference honors before a brief playing stint in the Mexican lower professional divisions. “Josue is a player who has taken a bit of time being out of the game following his time playing in Mexico but in watching him, it’s quick to see the talent he has. His movement and awareness of how to position himself to get on the end of chances is at a very high level. Josue’s addition to Roots is a great opportunity to place a talented player back into a serious and structured environment. We’re looking forward to see his continued growth and confidence return and I’m sure this is a player who will be scoring a lot of goals for us.”
Andres Plascencia is a talented left defender who will add a steady presence to the Roots backline for 2019. Born and raised in Oakland, CA, Andres played his youth soccer with Bay Oaks Soccer Club (now East Bay United Bay Oaks) as well as at Bishop O'Dowd High School. Following graduation, Plascencia played collegiate soccer at Las Positas College in Livermore, CA where he earned 1st team All-Conference honors before graduating from University of San Diego last year. "In Andres, we have a player with a true mind for the game. His understanding of the many small details that add up to being a successful defender will allow him to bring a lot of experience to our group. His being a left footed player also brings a lot to how we will look to develop the attack from our fullbacks moving forward.”
Juan Vasquez rounds out the group of local signings and signifies yet another local talent looking for an opportunity to excel in a professional environment. The Oakland native spent time playing at City College of San Francisco and has spent several years playing for Oakland Leopards during their SFSFL season campaigns. “Juan is another guy who had dropped out of soccer for a bit due to his inability to crack into professional soccer. He trialed last season with Sacramento Republic and was unable to earn a contract. He’s a guy who can play up top or out wide as a winger. You may see him in an inverted winger type role for us, given his inclination to drift centrally and his very refined right footed shot coming from the inside. We’re really happy to see him returning to soccer in a meaningful way and look forward to supporting him as he continues to try and achieve his dreams of professional soccer.”
Please join us in welcoming these young men to Oakland Roots!
About Oakland Roots:
The Oakland Roots are a recently launched sports club in Oakland committed to bringing professional soccer to the Town. More than just a club, more than just soccer. Oakland Roots Sports Club, referred to as "Oakland Roots" seeks to harness the magic of Oakland and the beautiful game of soccer as a force for social good. Whether on the field, in the stands or within the community, Oakland Roots will represent our wonderful city with passion, pride and commitment to all things Oakland. Player by player, fan by fan, resident by resident. One day at a time, one game at a time; this is about Oakland first, always.
For the Fall of 2018, Oakland Roots has entered its reserve side, Oakland Leopards, into the Fall Qualifying Rounds of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup.Stay tuned about our brand and club launch this and follow us online at www.oaklandrootssc.com as well as on Facebook and Twitter.