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Tacoma Defiance grab first road win of season

Justin Dhillon’s brace paces way for Defiance’s most impressive win of season.

Unlike last season the Tacoma Defiance didn’t leave it to their last game away from home to get their first road win. They got it out of the way on their second to last away match with their 4-1 win Saturday night against Fresno FC. Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez and Justin Dhillon provided the offensive impetus and Fresno’s horrid finishing — they scored once on 25 shots — helped a shaky Defiance defense out considerably. Despite a late charge from Fresno, the match ended as a comfortable win for the Defiance.

Key Moments

6’- Tacoma got lucky twice. Juan Pablo Caffa did some work on Alex Villenueva in the corner and got free to serve in a cross from the edge of the box. Jems Geffrard rose high above a flat footed Josh Atencio to meet the cross about 3 yards out from goal but made a mess of the header, sending an easy finish well wide of Trey Muse’s right post. Well after Caffa got the cross off Villanueva took him down with a reckless, flying challenge that should have earned the young left back a yellow and a penalty conceded.

17’- The referee evened up the missed penalties when he waved off Ocampo-Chavez’s pleas after the young forward was taken down as he cut the ball to his left in the box.

31’- Atencio made a blind clearing kick over his shoulder but it ended up going right to Dhillon who got himself mostly around Caffa with some nice footwork and then bodied the midfielder off the ball to finish the job. After a few more touches Dhillon curled the ball past C.J. Cochran with his left foot. 1-0

49’- Shandon Hopeau split the Fresno centerbacks with a inch perfect through ball that put Dhillon in on top of Cochran. The towering striker attempted a cheeky little chip over the Foxes’ keeper but it crawled by the outside of the far post.

51’- Both Villenuevea and Ocampo-Chavez backed off Zachary Ellis-Hayden until the Fox had driven them into their own box. Ellis-Hayden then moved the ball over to his left foot and put a stinging shot past Muse that rattled the crossbar but stayed out.

55’- Ocampo-Chavez drove aggressively into the box; getting himself free for a left footed shot from 10 yards. He hit is well but right at Cochran.

61’- Azriel Gonzalez made his return after a lengthy absence following a oot surgery.

64’- Dhillon got his brace after Danny Leyva played a beautiful lofted cross to Ocampo-Chavez on the back post. The Merced Atlas SC product cleverly cushioned his header back across goal where it met with Dhillon’s right foot. 2-0

69’- Dhillon added an assist to his account after Ocampo-Chavez slammed his cut back pass nearly through the net with his left foot. 3-0

73’- Villanueva was again lucky not to concede a penalty after a cross hit his trailing arm.

75’- Gonzalez found Leyva in the half circle with a short pass that the Las Vegas native just about scuffed into the bottom corner of the goal for his first professional goal. 4-0

84’- The Foxes finally finished one of their many free headers when Christian Chaney turned home a Caffa corner kick. 4-1

91+2’- Fresno coach Adam Smith (not the Scottish economist) left the field before the final whistle, lmao.

Talking Points

Justin Dhillon scores goals; who will he do it for?

The LA Galaxy Academy product had one of his best games since he moved to the Greater Puget Sound against the Foxes with two goals and an assist. He gave the Defiance most of what can be asked of a striker: goals (both created and finished), assists, pressing, a threat in behind, an aerial presence in the box and some improving hold up play.

His two goals took him past David Estrada (11) on the Defiance/S2 single season goal list with 12 — a tally which brings him into second on the all-time scoring behind only Zach Mathers (14). We have learned a lot about Dhillon this season but two questions remain: How close to his ceiling and who will he play for next season?

At first glance it looks like there is no chance the Sounders move on from him, but the path from Defiance to the First Team for non-Academy players is tough to navigate. Although the Sounders have signed several non-Academy players who first played for their USL affiliate — including Dhillon earlier this year — the only two to make a lasting impact are Nouhou and Jordy Delem who were signed more than four years ago, long before the academy was in full swing. Dhillon has the talent to stick in MLS but it’s unclear if that will be with the Sounders, especially if Will Bruin makes his expected return.

Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez the left winger.

The Defiance broke out a 4-3-3 for the first time this season and Ocampo-Chavez excelled in his wide attacking role. He gave Fresno all sorts of trouble down the left side. His aggression and movement were just about perfect as he led the Defiance attack. His night is best exemplified by his 11 attempted dribbles, eight of which were successful.

Ocampo-Chavez has been a different player for the Defiance since playing the entire second half for the Sounders in a friendly against Borussia Dortmund. After failing to score in his first eight USL appearances of the season, Ocampo-Chavez now has six goals in his past nine games.

How far Ocampo-Chavez makes it in MLS will probably depend on how he does playing out wide, which is where he’s mostly been playing during this run of form. This performance provided a glimpse into what that could look like if all goes well.


First Team call-up power rankings

(A quick explainer of my methodology: The rankings don’t take into account the roster situation of the First Team, so the player at #1 is the player not on a First Team contract most ready for MLS, not the player the Sounders need to fill out their roster. However, the player in Bold is the player most likely to be the first player given a contract by the Sounders taking into account their roster needs.)

  1. Shandon Hopeau (—)
  2. Denso Ulysse (—)
  3. Jesse Daley (—)
  4. Nick Hinds (—)
  5. Danny Robles (—)

Match Stats


Tacoma Defiance I 4-1 I Fresno FC

Saturday, October 5, 2019

Venue: Chukchansi Park I Fresno, California

Referee: Eric Tattersall

Assistants: Francisco Bermudez, Christian Lara

Fourth Official: Robert Vincze


TAC - Justin Dhillon (Jesse Daley) 31’

TAC - Justin Dhillon (Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez) 64’

TAC - Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (Justin Dhillon) 69’

TAC - Danny Leyva (Azriel Gonzalez) 75’

FFC - Christian Chaney (Juan Pablo Caffa) 83’


TAC - Alex Villanueva (caution) 28’

FFC - Suleiman Samura (caution) 52’

TAC - Jesse Daley (caution) 53’

TAC - Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (caution) 69’

FFC - Emir Alihodzic (caution) 90’+1’


TAC - Trey Muse; Sota Kitahara, Sam Rogers, Aleks Berkolds, Alex Villanueva; Danny Leyva, Josh Atencio (Herbert Robinson 80’), Jesse Daley; Shandon Hopeau (Azriel Gonzalez 61’), Justin Dhillon, Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (Alec Diaz 80’)

Substitutes not used: Jamie Lowell, Danny Robles

Total shots: 9

Shots on goal: 5

Fouls: 11

Offside: 2

Corner-kicks: 2

Saves: 7

FFC - C.J. Coachran; Zachary Ellis-Hayden, Sam Strong, Jems Geffrard, Alex Cooper; Elijah Martin (Emir Alihodzic 78’), Suleiman Samura, Juan Pablo Caffa, Jemal Johnson (Devan Yao 67’); Qudus Lawal; Jaime Chavez (Christian Chaney 67’)

Substitutes not used: Sam Howard, Ramon Del Campo, Renato Bustamante, Diego Casillas

Total shots: 25

Shots on goal: 8

Fouls: 14

Offside: 8

Corner-kicks: 8

Saves: 1

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