Following an up-and-down first game back against Sacramento Republic FC, Tacoma Defiance return to the familiar confines of Cheney Stadium Saturday, July 18 at 5 PM. The opponents for the second game of their return to action are one they know well, as Portland Timbers 2 make the trip up I-5.
Portland (0-1-0, -5) find themselves at the bottom of Group A, having played only their season opener against Phoenix Rising FC, a 6-1 loss. Tacoma’s start to the season wasn’t much better, with two losses and a -3 goal difference going into their game last week against Sacramento Republic FC.
After a 3-3 draw that saw Defiance open the scoring in the first minute, then work their way back in the second half after giving up three straight goals, the home team will hopefully have some confidence to go with those competitive minutes. Not only did they come from behind to get a result, counter to the narrative established after giving up goals to drop results in their first two games, but Tacoma’s young players put in impressive performances all over the field. Two of the goal scorers, Alec Diaz and Ray Serrano, were 18 year-olds, while 17 year-old Sota Kitahara played the full match and provided a steady presence in the center of Tacoma’s midfield.
Portland’s USL side haven’t played a competitive match in over four months. Similar to the Defiance, Portland will be without any players currently with the First Team who would be playing with the 2 team under normal circumstances. The team has 13 players currently listed on their roster page, but one of those names may be familiar to fans who have tracked the Sounders Academy for a while. Jacob Hauser-Ramsey, who spent three years playing college soccer for the University of Connecticut, is a big centerback who was drafted in the second round of the MLS SuperDraft by the Colorado Rapids, but played in the USL Championship with Memphis 901 in 2019 prior to making the move to Portland in the off-season. Hauser-Ramsey started and played 77 minutes in that opening defeat against Phoenix, and as one of three CBs on the roster he seems likely to start on his trip back home.
Keys to the Match
- Stick with what worked: the second half of the game against Sacramento went better than the first in part because the team was able to take better care of the ball, relieving some pressure from the defense, and also because of more effective and consistent pressing which created transition and scoring opportunities. More of that throughout the game should lead to favorable results.
- Solidify the defense: playing with a new goalkeeper, a lack of familiarity and some sloppy defending put Tacoma in a difficult position as they faced wave after wave of pressure from Sacramento. The defense will need to find better cohesion and improve their communication if they want to avoid chasing forwards who are in on goal and giving up easy chances.
- Build a bonfire: regardless of the level or the league, the rivalry is real and understood throughout the Sounders organization. The Defiance roster is full of players with plenty of experience in these rivalry games at the Academy and USL level, and they know how important a win is against the neighbors to the South.
Tacoma’s only change from Sacramento is Nick Hinds at left back.
No Hauser-Ramsey for Portland, as they run out a short bench.
How to Watch
Date/Time: Saturday, July 18, 5:00 PM PT
Location: Cheney Stadium, Tacoma, Washington