After cruising to a casual 4-1 lead in the first 51 minutes, Wade Webber's side struggled to maintain control of the match late. Tacoma Defiance needed a bit of good fortune and great goalkeeping to make up for deep defensive turnovers that gave Houston Dynamo 2 an opening in what was ultimately a 4-3 win in the MLS Next Pro Western Conference quarterfinals on Sunday at Starfire Stadium.
Perhaps it was the curse of the gamestate. Defiance were up 3-0 in 19 minutes. Blake Bowen scored the opener and then assisted on the next two goals. Braudilio Rodrigues netted both of those. All were the repeatable goals that Webber's talked about wanting for the season.
The best? Probably the first as the ball movement on display showed a group capable of dominating their league. Half the team touched the ball in the full-field play that brought it into the 18. The dummy by one of the league's best scorers was icing.
It's hard not to be casual after early dominance.
Houston pulled one back to make it 3-1 going into halftime. Defiance's fourth goal should have put the match to sleep. The ball movement was exquisite.
Softer teams would collapse after that goal.
Houston Dynamo 2 took the opposite approach. As Defiance subbed out to increase their defensive posture HD2 increased their pressure on the goal.
Scoring at 79' and 81' Dynamo 2 continued to apply pressure to Jacob Castro. The fourth first team keeper in the Sounders organization faced two shots that no one could stop.
But when he was in position he showed the athleticism and ability that earned him a Sounders HGP deal. His late stops saved the win and the postseason for Defiance.
In the win Rodrigues scored his 16th and 17th goals in all competitions this season, extending his team record.
With the 4-3 win Defiance move on to the Western Conference semis where they will face the opponent that Colorado Rapids 2 chooses to not play. That will be either No. 4 seed Austin II – who beat Sporting KC II on the road – or No. 6 seed San Jose Earthquakes 2 – who beat St. Louis City 2, also on the road.
If Defiance advance and Rapids 2 do not, Defiance would host the West Final.