Tacoma Defiance (0-2-0, 0 points) begin their return to action with a trip to Northern California as they face Sacramento Republic FC (0-0-1, 1 point). The match kicks off Monday, July 13 at 7:00 PM, and will be broadcast in Spanish on ESPN Deportes and will also be available in English on ESPN+.
There’s little to be gleaned from how these two teams started the USL Championship season. The small sample size combined with the long break means that what little could be interpreted from the combined 270 minutes of game footage is of little use in predicting how this game will go. The long break will likely mean a rough 90 minutes of action as both teams work to find a rhythm, figure out their opponents, and familiarize themselves with their teammates. Even in the top leagues in Europe the opening games of their return were often sloppy. Add to all of that the fact that Tacoma Defiance will go into this match without the players signed to First Team Contracts - seven players who started or played in the first two games of the season, eight including Ethan Dobbelaere who had yet to appear for Defiance in 2020 - and that’s a drastically different looking team.
Sacramento Republic are a club with MLS in their future, and a large and vocal fan-base. Given the realities of a return to play while a pandemic continues to ravage the United States those fans will be watching from home, making for a different sort of challenge for both teams. Sacramento boasts an experienced squad with talent throughout their roster, including former-Seattle Sounder Jordan McCrary. For their part, Tacoma will have their share of experience on the field as well, particularly along the spine, with a centerback duo of Sam Rogers and Taylor Mueller and a midfield tandem of Jesse Daley and Collin Fernandez, all of whom have at least as much as Daley’s 3,398 minutes of USL experience.
To fill some gaps, Tacoma Defiance have signed Academy player Eric Kinzner to a USL contract, brought goalkeeper Christian Herrera in on loan from NISA club Oakland Roots SC, and signed Juan Alvarez, Marco Astorga, Reed Baker-Whiting, Josh Hardin and Cole Kulhanek to Academy Agreements.
Keys to the Match
- Defensive cohesion: in front of a relatively untested GK, the concentration of experience in front of him will need to play as a unit.
- Fluidity in transition: Tacoma’s attack is built upon taking advantage of transition opportunities, and the front-four will need to use their positional fluidity to find gaps in the Sacramento defense.
- Never give up: In their first two games of the USL season, Tacoma were in position to earn at least a point before giving up winning goals in the final 20 minutes. In spite of fatigue, Defiance will need a full 90 minute performance.
Sota Kitahara gets the start in midfield next to Jesse Daley.
As expected, McCrary gets the start.
How to Watch
Date/Time: Monday, July 13, 7:00 PM PT
Location: Papa Murphy’s Park, Sacramento, California
TV: ESPN Deportes