The Oakland Roots soccer club hosted its 2022 home-opener at Laney College Football Stadium on Saturday, facing off against Monterey Bay FC. Last year, the Roots were forced to cancel their June 19 opener minutes before kickoff due to the turf field at Laney being deemed unplayable by league officials

Roots fans attending Saturday night’s game were greeted by the sight of new turf and a bold sign on the sidelines that read “Indigenous Land,” an acknowledgment by the club that their field was built on the unceded ancestral homeland of the Ohlone. Prior to the game, Corrina Gould, chair and spokesperson for the Confederated Villages of Lisjan, blessed the field. 

Grand Nationxl, an Oakland hip-hop collective of over 15 artists that was founded in 2020 by rapper and producer Kevin Allen (formerly known as Erk Tha Jerk), performed before the game. 

The home-opener wasn’t without its glitches. New security protocols at the venue (non-clear bags are one of the items now prohibited by the club at the stadium, but many fans were unaware) resulted in some confusion and a slow check-in process. As a convenience, the Roots provided fans with branded, clear-plastic bags, and will continue to hand them out at every home game.

Despite the early hiccups—and the fact that the team lost the match 3-2—fans enjoyed the sold-out home opener. The Oaklandside’s photojournalist, Amir Aziz, was on the sidelines to capture the game.

The Roots’ next home game will take place on Saturday, April 2, at 7 p.m. at Laney College. Tickets are on sale now.

Corrina Gould, chair and spokesperson for the Confederated Villages of Lisjan, speaks to the crowd before the match on Saturday night and gives a pre-game land acknowledgment. The Oakland Roots soccer club has been proactive in recognizing that its home field was built on the ancestral homeland of the indigenous Ohlone people. Credit: Amir Aziz
Members of the Oakland hip-hop collective Grand Nationxl link arms during their pre-game performance at Laney College. Credit: Amir Aziz
Kevin Allen of Grand Nationxl enjoying the scene at Laney College during the collective’s pre-game show for the Oakland Roots soccer club. Credit: Amir Aziz
David “Passage” Bryant of Grand Nationxl performs up close for fans prior to the Oakland Roots home opener. Credit: Amir Aziz
Oakland Roots fans taking in a performance by Grand Nationxl at the Laney College home opener on March 26, 2022. Credit: Amir Aziz
Brookfield Duece of Grand Nationxl moves the crowd at Laney College Football Stadium. Credit: Amir Aziz
The Oakland Athletic League high school soccer champs, Leadership Public School from Hayward, are acknowledged on the field during halftime. Credit: Amir Aziz
Boys and girls from the East Bay United and Castro Valley soccer clubs are acknowledged on the field pre-game. Credit: Amir Aziz
Fans cheer and wave flags in excitement during the Oakland Roots soccer game on Saturday night, March 26, 2022, at Laney College. Credit: Amir Aziz
Oakland Roots players have a pre-game chat. Credit: Amir Aziz
Roots forward Óttar Magnús Karlsson is surrounded by players from Monterey Bay FC. Credit: Amir Aziz
Roots forward Óttar Magnús Karlsson dribbles while guarded by a member of the opposing team, Monterey Bay FC, prior to the Roots’ first goal of the night. Credit: Amir Aziz
Roots forward Óttar Magnús Karlsson celebrates after scoring the first of two team goals on the night. Credit: Amir Aziz
Kids cheer in excitement during the Oakland Roots soccer game. Credit: Amir Aziz
A player from the opposing team, Monterey Bay FC, challenges the refs after a call. Credit: Amir Aziz
Roots defender Edgardo Rito in-between plays. Credit: Amir Aziz
A Roots fan holds a hand-made sign at the home opener on March 26, 2022. Credit: Amir Aziz

Amir Aziz is a photographer and videographer from Oakland, California. Using photography as his primary medium, Amir documents life and times in his community and the rapid changes in his environment. He's covered music events and social justice movements in the U.S. and abroad for local and international publications. Before shelter-in-place, he traveled to over 10 countries producing multimedia projects juxtaposing the experiences of locals elsewhere to those in his hometown of Oakland. Amir hopes to continue to bridge the gap between African diaspora communities and oppressed groups in the world through multimedia storytelling.

Azucena Rasilla is an East Oakland native, a bilingual journalist reporting in Spanish and in English, and a longtime reporter on Oakland arts, culture and community. As an independent local journalist, she has reported for KQED Arts, The Bold Italic, Zora and The San Francisco Chronicle. She was a writer and social media editor for the East Bay Express, helping readers navigate Oakland’s rich artistic and creative landscapes through a wide range of innovative digital approaches.