Tacoma Defiance kicked off their 2020 USL Championship season with what seemed like a dominant performance through the opening half. During the first 45 minutes, Tacoma created plenty of chances and prevented Reno 1868 FC from getting any sort of rhythm going with an effective press being led by new signing Chino Perez at the no. 9.
In the 26th minute Tacoma were able to capitalize on one of the several chances they created, when Chris Hegardt scored off of a pass into the box from Danny Reynolds, finishing off a play that featured quality build-up and nice passes from Josh Atencio and Shandon Hopeau before the actual assist. While Tacoma continued to create chances throughout the first half, they were unfortunately unable to add to their lead.
From the start of the second half Reno were on the front foot and Tacoma couldn’t regain control of the game. Reno evened up the game 10 minutes into the second half and never looked back, eventually winning 3-1 to spoil Tacoma’s home opener.
While the game featured positives for the Defiance, losing the first game of the season after having a lead at halftime and creating plenty of chances to add to that lead is frustrating. The team have a short turnaround, with the opportunity to right the ship against expansion side San Diego Loyal at home on Wednesday night.
1’ — Shandon Hopeau beats a player on the dribble and fires a shot at the keeper which goes out for the first corner of the night.
17’ — Hopeau earns another corner as his shot deflects off of a defender’s chest.
26’ — Danny Reynolds receives the ball from Shandon Hopeau before sliding it across the box where Chris Hegardt meets it and blasts it into the net.
33’ — Sam Rogers stops a Reno counter attack as his diving interception of a through-ball sends it out for a throw.
45 + 1’ — Chris Hegardt picks off a pass and drives towards goal before finding Jesse Daley, whose shot goes out for a throw.
55’ — Trey Muse makes a diving save to keep out a shot from distance, leading to a corner.
56’ — A simple pass-and-run through the center of the Defiance midfield and defense leads to a shot by Jack Skahan under a diving Trey Muse to tie the game at 1-1.
74’ — Trey Muse makes another diving save, but the rebound falls to an unmarked Christiano François, who easily slots his shot beyond an outstretched Muse to give Reno the lead, 1-2.
78’ — Hopeau creates a dangerous chance and nearly levels the game as his cross for Azriel Gonzalez is redirected towards goal by a defender, but the Reno ‘keeper reacts quickly enough to keep the ball out.
84’ — A corner from Danny Reynolds eventually finds Azriel Gonzalez, whose curling shot bounces off the far post and the goalkeeper’s back before the play eventually ends with a goal kick.
87’ — A good play down the left from Reno leads to a shot by Gilbert Fuentes that appears to be saved by Trey Muse before it slides under his body and into the goal for Reno’s third of the night.
New additions: Two of Tacoma’s new signings, Chino Perez and Taylor Mueller, started on Friday evening and put in strong performances. Perez played up top and caused trouble for the Reno defense with his hard running and pressing, as well has his interchanging runs with Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez and Shandon Hopeau on either side of him. Mueller, a veteran helping to anchor the Defiance backline, seemed to be a calming presence for the players around him. A smart defender, Mueller also made some clever passes, and looked comfortable on the ball in the Defiance possession system.
Fresh pressed: The first half often felt like it was all Tacoma as they made it hard for Reno to find any success or rhythm. Chino Perez led the Defiance press from the front as he ran down and harried the Reno back line when they had the ball, and the players behind him followed suit. The cohesion required for that successful press showed in how the team passed and controlled the ball, and it lead to lots of corners and five shots from good positions in the first half. The second half lacked the same cohesion, and the press wasn’t as successful, but that first half gave a template that coach Little and the team will look to replicate going forward.
Opening the account: The first goal of the Tacoma Defiance 2020 season was also Chris Hegardt’s first professional goal. The 18 year-old has been with the Sounders organization since 2018, when he joined the Sounders Academy. Hegardt started playing with Tacoma in 2019 and has earned a spot in the team through hard work, a good understanding of the game, and the ability to read what’s happening around him at a high level. He’s been a semi-regular participant in first team training over the last year, and spent preseason with the Sounders in 2020. His goal on Friday night is sure to be the first of many.
Tacoma Defiance I 1-3 I Reno 1868 FC
Friday, March 6, 2020
Venue: Cheney Stadium I Tacoma, Washington
Referee: Ismir Pekmic
Assistants: Christian Clerc, Seth Martin
Fourth Official: Liam Leonard
TAC - Chris Hegardt (Danny Reynolds) 26’
RNO - Joel Skahan (Eric Calvillo) 56’
RNO - Christiano François 74’
RNO - Gilbert Fuentes (Christiano François) 87’
TAC - Jesse Daley (caution) 38’
TAC - Josh Atencio (caution) 86’
LINEUPS & STATS
TAC - Trey Muse; Antonee Burke-Gilroy, Taylor Mueller, Sam Rogers, Danny Reynolds; Chris Hegardt, Josh Atencio; Shandon Hopeau, Jesse Daley (Collin Fernandez 62’), Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (Azriel Gonzalez 67’); Chino Perez (Marlon Vargas 85’),
Substitutes not used: Jamie Lowell, Abdoulaye Cissoko, Nick Hinds, Danny Robles
Total shots: 8
Shots on goal: 3
RNO - JT Marcinkowski, Jack Skahan, Thomas Janjigian, Tony Alfaro, Marcos Lopez, Eric Calvillo, Kevin Partida© (Brent Richards 73’), Gilbert Fuentes (Foster Langsdorf 90’), Siad Haji (Sam Gleadle 66’), Christiano François, Corey Hertzog
Substitutes not used: Eric De La Cerda, Aleks Berkolds, Tucker Bone, Aidan Apodaca
Total shots: 16
Shots on goal: 8