Oakland Roots v. San Jose Earthquakes at PayPal Park

SAN JOSE, Calif. - For the first time in a competitive match, the Oakland Roots will play the San Jose Earthquakes on Tuesday night at PayPal Park.

The match is part of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup, a nationwide tournament open to soccer clubs of all levels.

This format paves the way for match-ups between MLS teams, like the Earthquakes and amateur, semi pro or lower level professional teams, like the Roots.

The Bay Area clubs are two of the last 32 teams remaining in the tournament.

"This game matters tonight," said Shea Salinas, club ambassador and former player for the San Jose Earthquakes.

"Mentally, you have to be prepared because Oakland is going to come in to fight."

These two Bay Area soccer teams have only played each other once before in a pre-season game three years ago.

The Quakes won that game 3-2 after the Roots dropped a 2-0 lead.

The stakes are much higher now. The winner moves onto the next round, while the loser is eliminated from the tournament.

Both sides are struggling in their own league play. The Earthquakes and Roots sit in 10th place in the Western Conference of the MLS and USL, respectively.

However, both teams are also coming off big results over the weekend.

For the Roots, with nearly an entire second-string squad, pulled off a 2-2 draw against San Antonio FC, who sits 5th in the Western Conference of the USL.

San Jose won big against California rivals LAFC, earning a 3-1 victory in front of a crowd of more than 40,000 fans at Levi's Stadium. That's the largest MLS crowd this season, outside of a home opener or Inter Miami FC match, led by 2022 FIFA World Cup Champion Lionel Messi.

Both teams are also eager to use their newest signings.

Oakland may debut its newest striker; Dom Dwyer, a former U.S. Men's National Team player and MLS veteran.

"The Cup is a very special competition, it has a lot of history," said Dwyer.

"It's a great opportunity for the club. It's a local rivalry. You're playing against a bigger club in a higher league and it's exciting. It's an opportunity for the guys and they're looking forward to it."

On the South Bay side, the Earthquakes just debuted Hernan Lopez over the weekend.

The 23-year old midfielder from Argentina is the great nephew of the late legend Diego Maradona. Quakes head coach Luchi Gonzalez expects to see him on the field Tuesday night.

"We're gonna be mindful of a few things," he said.

"We're gonna put the team that we know will be the best on Tuesday to represent us on a high level because it's a game we take personally. It's a local derby, it's a local type of rivalry, and we're super excited for the opportunity to play Oakland."

"He's a young, skillful player," said Salinas. "I think he adds a very interesting dynamic with the Quakes and can score goals."

San Jose gets the home field advantage, something Roots coach Gavin Glinton knows is a challenge. He just took over the team last week, following the departure of head coach Noah Delgado.

Glinton grew up in Livermore and had a stint with the Earthquakes as a player.

"That's their home, they're very comfortable there," he said.

"It's going to be a really tough match for us on the best of days and, obviously, in a competitive matchup. First one in the Bay, it's huge, everyone is going to be up for it."

The Earthquakes won the game 1-0 on Tuesday night and with Bay Area bragging rights on the line, Earthquakes fans said they were looking forward to playing the Roots.

"I was with San Jose long before the Roots even started. I’m also on this side of the Bay, so it’s an easier commute for me," said Brian, of San Mateo.

One Earthquakes fan said he loves dressing up for games and the idea of playing a cross-town rival.

"The rivalry is always good for two teams because both teams will grow, especially Oakland being right next to us. Oakland is staying in the Bay and everyone else has gone."

Oakland Roots fans also made their presence known at the Earthquakes home game, sitting together in one section, chanting, and waving flags.

"I’m here because the Roots need our support. They need us to be here. They need us to show off. That’s why I’m here," said Umpha Manenzhe, an Oakland Roots fan.

Roots fans also say this matchup is another way to show how much they want teams to stay in Oakland.

"The fans, we never quit. So, we’re going to haunt John Fisher to the end of the tourney. It doesn’t matter where he goes. He owns the San Jose Earthquakes, we’re here," said Bryan Johansen, Co-owner of Last Dive Bar in Oakland.

"Being from Oakland, there are some hard feelings about John Fisher, who owns the A’s and the Earthquakes, so there’s a little extra motivation for us, I think," said Brett Brown, an Oakland Roots fan and investor in the team.

This is the 4th Round of the tournament and after more games are played on Wednesday, there will be 16 teams remaining. The Earthquakes are one of the 16, and they’ll either play the Sacramento Republic or the Monterey Bay Football Club.