Tacoma Defiance have signed four new players ahead of the 2021 season, adding over 10,000 professional minutes across a variety of leagues and bringing the roster to 17 players directly signed to the team.
The club announced on Monday that forward Samuel Adeniran, and defenders Tom Brewitt, Randy Mendoza and Issa Rayyan had all been signed. The quartet of signings all probably slot more into the “second chance” category of players that Tacoma has historically signed — as opposed to younger, development players — all are in their 20s. They bring experience from leagues in the US, England, Spain, and Germany.
Mendoza and Rayyan will join the team immediately, while Adeniran will join once his International Transfer Clearance (ITC) has been received, and Brewitt will join once his P-1 visa is approved and his ITC is received.
Issa Rayyan is the youngest of the group, and at 20 years old should still have plenty of room to grow. A native of Dearborn, Michigan, Rayyan came up through the Philadelphia Union Academy and was on the radar for US Youth National Teams. He has played all over the midfield but more of his professional minutes have come as a right back. He made his first appearance in a USL Championship game as a substitute at 16 with Bethlehem Steel in 2017, then made one more sub appearance the following season before spending 2018 playing college soccer at Duke. He won ACC Freshman of the Year in his lone college season before signing a professional contract with Bethlehem Steel. In 2019 he contributed 4 goals and 3 assists as he played in 26 of the team’s 34 games, starting 25 times. In 2020 his season was limited due to injury, in addition to the pandemic, and Rayyan only played in six games for a total of 266’ minutes. The decision by Philadelphia Union to suspend operations of their USL Championship team has allowed Tacoma to bring in a potential starter at RB, where the team lacked a natural first choice.
Randy Mendoza, 24, is a left back who has spent almost all of his professional career in the American lower leagues having played in USL League Two with Ventura County Fusion and SIMA Águilas, USL League One with Orlando City B, and NISA with Stumptown Athletic. While playing with Orlando City B in 2019, Mendoza was also added to Orlando City’s traveling roster for the US Open Cup match against Memphis 901. He entered the game in stoppage time of the 3-1 victory. Mendoza spent 2020 playing in the NISA with Stumptown Athletic, and was also brought in by Charlotte Independence of the USL-C, although he doesn’t appear to have seen the field. It seems most likely that Mendoza will be expected to provide depth and push Alex Villanueva at the LB spot.
Samuel Adeniran is a 22-year-old forward from Houston, Texas. He spent some time in Portugal with the Belenenses academy, and apparently had a trial in Argentina before eventually making his way to Spain. Adeniran spent three seasons playing in the Spanish third and fourth divisions, initially joining Leganés B then being loaned to C.D. Guadalajara (no, not that one) and C.D. Castellón. He’s most recently been playing in Germany, first with Kickers Emden of the German fifth division, then SV Atlas in the fourth division. Adeniran appears to have spent time playing as a right-sided forward/winger as well as a central forward. He seems well suited to compete for minutes with Alec Diaz as the tip of the Defiance spear, where his size and speed are only part of what makes him an interesting player. His true strength is in his ability on the dribble and his willingness to take defenders on with the ball at his feet, as well as his awareness inside the box and his movement into the center back’s blind spot. He’s got a nice shot, as well, capable of picking out a top corner.
Tom Brewitt is an interesting case. 24 years old, listed by the team as a midfielder, Brewitt has the most professional experience of the bunch. He came up through Liverpool’s academy, and has been playing in England’s lower tiers where he’s racked up almost 6,000 minutes across various competitions. He spent the 2019/20 season with Morecambe FC in League Two, England’s fourth tier, making 27 appearances across all competitions with 22 starts. He played primarily as a defensive midfielder, but has also had experience as a CB.
Brewitt’s time in Liverpool’s academy, where he played as a CB, provides a couple of interesting anecdotes. First is something of a cautionary tale: on a podcast last year Brewitt discussed a story from the 2015-16 season. Ahead of an FA Cup game, with Liverpool facing something of an injury crisis at CB, Brewitt let his desperation to play for the club get the best of him. In an unbridled pursuit of his dreams, he tried to intentionally injure his friend and teammate in order to give himself the best chance to get the call from Jurgen Klopp. He put in a dangerous tackle, leaving his teammate on crutches for two weeks. The move didn’t work out for Brewitt, either, as he missed the FA Cup game due to a concussion, and Klopp had already made other plans. On a more promising note when it comes to Brewitt’s intentions and character as he’s grown older and more mature, he’s already earned his UEFA B coaching license and is working towards his UEFA A license. During last season, while playing for Morecambe, he also returned to Liverpool to work with their U18 academy team. It’s worth considering the mistakes that we all made as teenagers, and the growth that can come after that. Hopefully his more recent history indicates the kind of influence that he could have in the young Tacoma team.
Tacoma Defiance Roster
Goalkeepers — Christian Herrera
Defenders — Abdoulaye Cissoko, Eric Kinzner, Randy Mendoza, Taylor Mueller, Issa Rayyan, Alex Villanueva
Midfielders — Carlos Anguiano, Reed Baker-Whiting, Tom Brewitt, Azriel Gonzalez, Sota Kitahara, Danny Robles, Ray Serrano, Marlon Vargas
Forwards — Samuel Adeniran, Alec Diaz