Tacoma Defiance (2-3-1, +3) get their first chance to wash the taste of their loss to Reno 1868 FC from last weekend out of their mouths tonight as they travel back down to California to face Sacramento Republic FC (3-1-3, +2) for the second time since the restart. In their first meeting, a 3-3 draw, Tacoma roared back with two goals in the second half to earn the result after giving up three consecutive goals in the first half.
The Defiance enter this Saturday night game well-rested, not having played in a full week due to their midweek fixture with Las Vegas Lights FC being postponed. Sacramento, on the other hand, played in a hotly contested game against Reno on Wednesday night. That game, a 1-0 win for Republic, bumped Tacoma down to third place in Group A with Sacramento and Reno both on 12 points and Tacoma on 7. A win for Tacoma against Sacramento wouldn’t put them back in a playoff spot, but it would go a long ways to keep things tight at the top of the group.
Tacoma’s loss against Reno was rough, in no small part because a result was clearly within reach. Defiance went into that game with a short bench, and missing regular members of the Starting XI Jesse Daley and Antonee Burke. In the days since, it’s been announced that the club will have to do without Daley as he’s moved on to a new chapter in his career. Provided he’s healthy, Burke’s return to the lineup should be a boost, and the longer break between games should prove helpful in getting back players who left the game against Reno with injuries.
Sacramento is coming off of a win and could put themselves into first place in the group, but Tacoma Defiance will certainly be motivated to get a result. They’ve played well since the restart, they’re more than capable of scoring goals, and their defense is showing some increased stability as they become more familiar with each other, including goalkeeper Christian Herrera, whose loan from Oakland Roots SC has been extended into September. If prepared correctly, those ought to be the ingredients for a quality game.
Keys to the Match
- Filling the Daley Gap: For the last three years Jesse Daley has been a near-constant part of the teams put out by Tacoma Defiance. He has been the Spirit of Defiance, embodying what the club is about, and bringing that Defiant attitude to the center of Tacoma’s midfield. In his absence last week, coach Chris Little started Collin Fernandez and Sota Kitahara in midfield. It’s a combination that offers excellent passing, but lacks some of Daley’s trademark bight. Figuring out who fills the gap he leaves behind will be essential.
- Eliminate mistakes: When Tacoma last traveled to Sacramento it was defensive mistakes that forced them to claw back from a 3-1 deficit in order to get a result. Those mistakes cropped up again last weekend when both of Reno’s goals came directly from mistakes from the back line and GK Christian Herrera. Maybe having his loan extended was the confidence boost Herrera’s needed.
- Get AOC going: Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez made his return to Tacoma Defiance on a loan for the remainder of 2020 after traveling to Orlando for the MLS is Back Tournament with the Seattle Sounders, but didn’t make a single appearances. In the two games since his return to the USL side, he’s appeared as a substitute. AOC is likely still building up his fitness, but reintegrating a player who had 6 goals and 2 assists in his final 10 appearances with Tacoma in 2019 ought to be a major lift for them.
If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Antonee Burke returns to the XI, but the lineup is pretty much the same they’ve started in each game since the restart.
The other guys.
How to Watch
Date/Time: Saturday, August 15, 8 PM PT
Location: Papa Murphy’s Park, Sacramento, California