It was a wild afternoon in between the infield and outfield wall at Cheney Stadium. The match had an own goal, a keeper gaff, two brutal deflections and an equalizer in the final minute. It was also the first time this season that the Defiance scored three goals and the first time in almost month that they scored more than once. They did this against the best defensive team, the Fresno FC Foxes, in the USL Champion Western Conference. The Defiance probably should have won 3-1 but the Foxes got two goals from a couple massive Defiance mistakes in their own box. The match ended 3-3.
The Defiance started the match well — mostly through Henry Wingo and Shandon Hopeau down the right wing — but they could not get the final pass right, lacking in both decision-making and quality. During this opening stretch of dominance, Danny Leyva showed off the vision and passing the Defiance lacked while he was away. He played a particularly brilliant pass in the 16’ to his US U17 teammate Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez down the left wing.
Around 20’, the Defiance started to struggle to keep possession and the Foxes keyed in on a weakness in the Defiance backline. Wingo was staying too wide when the Foxes had the ball centrally, leaving a huge gap between himself and Sam Rogers. The Foxes dribbled and played give-and-goes through this space over and over and any time Rogers didn’t play it perfectly the Foxes were in behind the backline. Luckily for Tacoma, the Foxes’ finishing had not shown up yet and they sent their shots wide and right at Muse.
Incredibly, the Foxes remained scoreless into 38’ but then what was coming came. Nick Hinds gave away a silly freekick in a dangerous area to put the Defiance’s suspect set-piece defending under immense pressure. The ball was played in a little deep but the Foxes easily won a header and sent the ball back and bouncing through the six-yard-box. Rogers had a good chance to clear the ball but whiffed. The Foxes hottest goal scorer, Qudus Lawal, was waiting just behind him and was able to tap the ball in from a couple yards out.
The Defiance came out of the half looking much improved from the end of the first. Hinds in particular came out on fire. He was able to get in the box and create dangerous situations several times in the first five minutes. One of them saw him deep in the box along the endline. He played a cut-back pass which was blocked by a Fresno defender. Luckily for the Defiance the ball deflected off him and trickled past the Foxes’ ‘keeper — who had also come out to try and intercept the pass — into the net to draw the Defiance equal in 48’.
Just four minutes later the Defiance got another lucky deflection. Rogers played a ball into Hopeau who turned and dribbled to the edge of the box. From there he took a shot which deflected off a Foxes defender a couple feet away from him. It looked like the shot was probably going a bit wide, it is hard to say for sure, but the deflection took it just inside the far post to give Tacoma the lead.
The lead only lasted a minute though. In the 53’ Wingo had the ball deep in his own box and instead of clearing it he attempted to do a Maradona around Diego Casillas. He made a mess of it and Casillas easily took it off him. Casillas played a pass to Arun Basuljevic who slammed the ball into the top of the net from a few yards out.
After the two deflections and the bad turnover by Wingo, both sides seemed to lose energy. Neither side was creating anything close to dangerous and it looked like the match might end 2-2. Then in 81’ the Foxes were handed another gift. Trey Muse was way too casual with a ball played back to him by Rogers. With two forwards rushing at him he attempted to sort of chip it up and between the two. He wasn’t even close to pulling it off and Christian Cheney easily blocked it. The ball fell to the only other player in the box, Jaime Chávez, who calmly passed it by Muse to retake the lead.
It looked certain that the Defiance would lose their 10th match of the season but in the match’s last minute the Defiance got the equalizer off a moment of brilliance from Jesse Daley. The Tacoma central midfielder got on the ball around the halfway line. He picked his head up and played a ball on the ground through two of Fresno’s line. Justin Dhillon made a good run and was the first on the end of the lovely pass. With the ‘keeper closing him down, Dhillon played a clever little chip across the ‘keeper with his first touch. The ball rolled slowly toward the goal and eventually over the line to save Tacoma’s point and second draw in a row.
Usually a draw that includes two howlers can only be demoralizing — and it certainly will be for Wingo and Muse — but a last-second equalizer can erase a lot of ill feelings. In the end, it was a mixed bag of results. The match saw Hinds turn in far and away his best defensive game as a pro but it also saw Wingo continue to struggle with his defense and decision making. It had brilliant and consistent passing from Leyva and Josh Atencio, respectively, but also had continued inadequate and dangerous passing from Muse. It was a draw but it was also an improvement. It was a cohesive enough performance that the team, and individual players, can build on.
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.)
- Sam Rogers
- Denso Ulysse
- Shandon Hopeau
- Danny Robles
- Josh Atencio
Tacoma Defiance I 3-3 I Fresno FC
Sunday, May 26, 2019
Venue: Cheney Stadium I Tacoma, Washington
Referee: Mark Allatin
Assistants: Joshua Haimes, Christian Clerc
Fourth Official: Sya Magee
Weather: 65 degrees and partly cloudy
FFC - Qudus Lawal 38’
TAC - Own goal 48’
TAC - Shandon Hopeau (Sam Rogers) 52’
FFC - Arun Basuljevic (Diego Casillas) 54’
FFC - Jaime Chavez 81’
TAC - Justin Dhillon (Jesse Daley) 90’
TAC - Henry Wingo (caution) 31’
TAC - Antonee Burke-Gilroy (caution) 59’
FFC - Zachary Ellis-Hayden (caution) 64’
LINEUPS & STATS
TAC - Trey Muse; Henry Wingo, Sam Rogers, Jonathan Campbell, Nick Hinds; Danny Leyva, Josh Atencio; Shandon Hopeau (Justin Dhillon 60’), Antonee Burke-Gilroy (Jesse Daley 76’), Azriel Gonzalez (Denso Ulysse 84’); Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez
Substitutes not used: Jacob Castro, Aleks Berkolds, Matt Nance, Joel Rydstrand
Total shots: 15
Shots on goal: 2
FFC - C.J. Cochran; Zachary Ellis-Hayden, Michael Daly, Ramon Del Campo, Diego Casillas (Emir Alihodzic 74’); Arun Basuljevic, Seth Moses, Hiroki Kurimoto (Juan Caffa 56’), Jemal Johnson; Jaime Chavez, Qudus Lawal (Christian Chaney 53’)
Substitutes not used: Sam Howard, Jems Geffrard, Renato Bustamante, Jorge Escamilla
Total shots: 15
Shots on goal: 5