Tacoma Defiance announced a number of roster decisions on Tuesday as the USL Championship off-season is well underway. The announcement is headlined by the news that Tacoma has added three new players to the roster: Sounders Academy product Sota Kitahara, Carlos Anguiano, and Christian Herrera.
Kitahara, 17, is a central midfielder who has also seen time at right back. In 2019 he played the second most minutes and started the second most games for Tacoma Defiance as a locked-in part of the team’s double-pivot. Anguiano, 21, came up through the Portland Timbers Academy before signing with Portland Timbers 2 in 2019. The Timbers product is a central midfielder who joins Tacoma with 50 USL Championship games and nearly 4,000 minutes at that level under his belt, and should help to bolster the Defiance midfield in the absence of Jesse Daley. Herrera, 23, is a goal keeper who spent part of 2020 with Tacoma Defiance on loan from USL newcomers Oakland Roots SC.
In addition to the three new signings the team also exercised the contract options of three current players. Abdoulaye Cissoko, Ray Serrano and Marlon Vargas will all be remaining with the team. Cissoko, a 20 year-old French center back, was Taylor Mueller’s most frequent partner on the back line in 2020 making 9 starts in his 12 appearances. Serrano, 18, is an attacking midfielder who most regularly lines up on the right side for Tacoma, and he appeared to take a significant step forward in 2020. Even in a strange season he had career highs in appearances (13), starts (9), minutes played (684) and goals (3). Vargas, 19, is another attacking midfielder capable of playing any spot across the attacking band of three utilized throughout the Sounders system, although he spent the majority of his time on the right side in 2020.
Along with the additions and contract options being exercised, Defiance also announced that they had declined the options on a number of players. Defenders Antonee Burke, Nick Hinds and Danny Reynolds, and midfielders Collin Fernandez and Chino Pérez will all be playing outside of Tacoma in 2021. Burke and Hinds were two of the longest tenured players still with Defiance in 2020, having both joined in 2018. Hinds is a Sounders Academy product who appeared to lose his starting spot at left back to 2020 signing Alex Villanueva. He announced his departure from the club via an instagram post after the season ended back in October.
Fernandez, Pérez and Reynolds all joined the club in 2020. Reynolds was a 2020 Seattle Sounders draft pick who showed promise as an attack-minded left back or ball-playing left sided CB, but clearly had other players ahead of him at both spots. Fernandez is a Chicago Fire Academy product with plenty of USL experience, but he struggled to solidify his place in the starting lineup, while Pérez showed the talent that earned him a trial in Ireland and made him a first round draft pick, but his style of play made him an odd fit with the squad in spite of his on-field production. In addition to the players whose contract options were declined, Tacoma will also be without defender Sam Rogers as they head into next season. Rogers is out of contract and in September was reportedly approaching a move to Spanish side CD Leganes for this Winter.
The Tacoma Defiance roster currently sits at 13 players, 9 of whom are Sounders Academy products.
Tacoma Defiance Roster
Goalkeepers — Christian Herrera
Defenders — Abdoulaye Cissoko, Eric Kinzner, Taylor Mueller, Alex Villanueva
Midfielders — Carlos Anguiano, Reed Baker-Whiting, Azriel Gonzalez, Sota Kitahara, Danny Robles, Ray Serrano, Marlon Vargas
Forwards — Alec Diaz