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Tacoma Defiance add two more veterans of MLS Next Pro

Owen O’Malley was a top 10 SuperDraft pick only a year ago.

Last Updated
2 min read

The Tacoma Defiance made two more signings with exactly one week to go before the start of the 2024 season, adding MLS Next Pro veterans Lars Helleren and Owen O’Malley.

“We are excited to be able to bring players like Lars and Owen into our Defiance group,” Sounders Director of Development Wade Webber said in a team release. “Lars, being local, is certainly someone we have kept track of over the years and we have been impressed by his steady growth and maturity as a goalkeeper. We expect that to continue under this coaching staff. His shot-stopping and handling are assets, he has demonstrated a good capacity to organize the players in front of him and his distribution is excellent.

“Owen is comfortably two-footed, aggressive, and brings a measure of assurance in possession, but with an eye for passes that account for gaps and lines not many others readily see. He has tremendous potential and we are delighted to have him.”

Helleren is a native of Edmonds and played collegiately at Seattle Pacific-University. He also made 14 starts for Ballard FC last year, helping them with the USL League 2 national championship before joining Colorado Rapids 2 of MLS Next Pro and making one start for them.

O’Malley was the No. 9 pick in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft after a standout college career at Creighton, which included an 8-goal, 6-assist season in 2022. Coincidentally, St. Louis acquired that pick from the Sounders in exchange for $175,000 in General Allocation Money. But O’Malley never made a MLS appearance, was twice suspended for violating team rules and was waived at the end of the season. He did make 14 appearances with St. Louis’ MLS Next Pro team.

The Sounders apparently feel as though O’Malley has learned some lessons after his rocky professional debut and see him as someone who has some genuine upside that comes with virtually no financial risk. They apparently intend to convert him to more of a wingback.

The signings leave the Defiance with 17 players on the current roster, not counting Antonio Herrera who is on loan to Chivas de Guadalajara’s U23 team. He has not yet made an appearance.

Tacoma Defiance roster

GOALKEEPER (1): Lars Helleren

DEFENDERS (6): Blake Bowen, Elias Katsaros, Antino Lopez, Owen O’Malley, Pedro Rodrigues, Travian Sousa

MIDFIELDERS (10): Chris Aquino, Faysal Bettache, Snyder Brunell, Frank Daroma, Burke Fahling, Sebastian Gomez, Antonio Herrera*, Kalani Kossa-Rienzi, Gio Miglietti, Georgi Minoungou

Forwards (1): Yu Tsukanome

*On loan to Chivas de Guadalajara U-23