Paul Rothrock scored on a free kick in 92nd minute to equalize then converted the winning penalty to secure an additional point for Tacoma Defiance in a 3-3 (5-4) win over Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday. The win gives the Defiance 57 points, an organization record for the Sounders’ developmental team, and means they would host the MLS Next Pro final against any team other than Charlotte FC’s Crown Legacy.
Defiance had already secured the Pacific Division and No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. MLS Next Pro instituted a new rule for 2023, allowing teams to pick their playoff opponents. As the No. 2 seed, Defiance can choose to play No. 5 seed St. Louis City2, No. 6 seed Earthquakes II or No. 7 seed Houston Dynamo 2. They will host that opponent on Oct. 1 at Starfire Stadium.
The Whitecaps match was a back-and-forth affair with the Whitecaps jumping out to a 1-0 lead, the Defiance storming back to take a 2-1 lead behind goals from Dylan Teves and an own-goal, only for the Whitecaps to retake the lead on two more quick goals from Lowell Wright to complete his hat trick.
Defiance had numerous chances to grab the equalizer before Rothrock’s heroics, but were either just off the mark or goalkeeper Max Anchor was up to the task. Defiance finished with 20 shots and Anchor made five saves.
In the shootout, Defiance goalkeeper Jacob Castro made two saves, one on the second attempt of the shootout and the other on the Whitecaps' sixth attempt.