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Tacoma Defiance v. Austin Bold, recap: Defiance secure road point

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Strong performances from the Defiance centerbacks hold the Bold in check

For the first 60 minutes against the Austin Bold, the Tacoma Defiance played better than they have all season and were probably unlucky not to get three goals. Unfortunately, they only got one to go in and the heat got to them about 7 minutes before it got to the Bold. During that 7 minutes, the Defiance goal was under immense pressure and the Bold were able to get an equalizer. After their goal the Bold also wilted in the heat and the game puttered to its end as a 1-1 draw.

Key Moments

9’- Tacoma were able to successfully defend two set pieces without the Bold getting a chance.

18’- Great ball played from wide into Isaac Promise, who was in tons of space in the box. His first touch let him down though, and Aleks Berkolds had just enough time to block the shot with Jacob Castro in no-man’s land.

19’- Azriel Gonzalez made a nice cut inside to set himself up for a curling shot. He hit it too close to the keeper and Restrepo caught it easily.

22’- After some great incisive build up, the ball found its way to Gonzalez on the edge of the box, he cut in and got off a powerful shot that was only kept out by the underside of the crossbar.

31’- Hydration Break; First of the season

37’- Justin Dhillon scored again, this time with a towering header off a Joel Rydstrand corner.

45+3’- Castro came out well to punch away a cross that looked destined to be a goal, but he and Promise collided head to head as brutally as you will see in a soccer match. Castro came out the worst of the two and seemed disoriented and unbalanced as he was slowly walked off the field.

54’- The Bold got a shot on goal (their first of the night) from outside the box. Muse made a meal of an easy save as the ball squeezed past his hands but luckily trickled just wide.

59’- Promise got in behind but this time Muse did extremely well, coming off his line quickly to smother the chance.

61’- Rydstrand missed a clearance and then directed a shot that was heading wide into his own net with a missed block.

88’- Gonzalez given a red card for a shoulder to shoulder tackle (or perhaps something more).

Talking Points

Azriel had a mixed but overall encouraging match.

Azriel Gonzalez has been with the Sounders’ USL side since he was 15 years old. He is now 18 and his development has been largely stagnant in his three years learning a new position with S2/Tacoma. However, in the last month or two he has started to show signs of being able to play as a wide midfielder at the professional level. This match against the Bold was a great showcase of this improvement as he twice beat defenders on the dribble badly to create his own shot, both of which were high quality.

Unfortunately, what was his best game of the season was sullied by a red card near the match’s end. The broadcast never showed anything but an extremely wide angle of the incident from which it looked like Gonzalez made a routine shoulder to shoulder tackle. Both the Center Ref and 4th official seemed pretty certain of the red card though, so it is likely he threw in something that was hidden from the broadcast’s view.

Gonzalez still has a lot of areas in which he needs to improve — most notably he needs to figure out how to get involved when Tacoma have lengthy spells of possession — but it is heartening to see him start to make noticeable gains.

Josh Atencio and Berkolds looked the best centerback pairing the Defiance have had this year.

Aside from a seven-minute stretch in the second half when the Defiance midfielders lost all impetus, offensive and defensive, this match was the team’s best defensive performance of the season. That was largely down to the two centerbacks.

Berkolds and Atencio kept the Bold’s two massive forwards stymied in the box. Repelled crosses (with the help of a good aerial performance from Castro before his injury) and defended set pieces exponentially better than any Tacoma pairing has this season. They were pushed into their box for most of the match but broke up the Bold’s rhythm with solid clearances (Berkolds 15 and Atencio 4). Perhaps the biggest improvement over previous pairings, was their ability to stay connected to each other and the fullbacks which limited the balls in behind that have plagued the backline all season.

It was the first time this season that Atencio has looked comfortable in the backline. The organization likely wants to pair Sam Rogers with Atencio but they might be better served playing Atencio with Berkolds, at least for awhile.

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. Justin Dhillon (↑1)
  4. Sam Rogers (↓1)
  5. Josh Atencio (—)

Highlights

Match Stats

MATCH SUMMARY

Tacoma Defiance I 1-1 I Austin Bold FC

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Venue: Bold Stadium I Austin, Texas

Referee: Matthew Thompson

Assistants: Kevin Lock, Francisco Bermudez

Fourth Official: Joya Asadi

Attendance: 2,755

SCORING SUMMARY

TAC - Justin Dhillon (Joel Rydstrand) 37’

AUS - Kleber 61’

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY

TAC - Jesse Daley (caution) 82’

TAC - Azriel Gonzalez (ejection) 88’

AUS - Xavier Baez (caution) 90’

LINEUPS & STATS

TAC - Jacob Castro (Trey Muse 45’+7’); Denso Ulysse, Josh Atencio, Aleks Berkolds, Nick Hinds; Jesse Daley, Joel Rydstrand; Shandon Hopeau (Alec Diaz 79’), Antonee Burke-Gilroy (Danny Robles 61’), Azriel Gonzalez; Justin Dhillon

Substitutes not used: Modou Ndow, Marlon Vargas

Total shots: 6

Shots on goal: 4

Fouls: 7

Offside: 7

Corner-kicks: 1

Saves: 3

AUS - Diego Restrepo; Sean McFarlane, Amobi Okugo, Jermaine Taylor, Demar Phillips (Josue Soto 67’); Isaac Promise (Ema Twumasi 73’), Xavier Baez, Valerii Saramutin, Sonny Guadarrama (Francis Atuahene HT); Kléber, Andre Lima

Substitutes not used: Juan David Ramirez, Fabien Garcia, Faris Abdi, Calum Mallace

Total shots: 12

Shots on goal: 4

Fouls: 11

Offside: 4

Corner-kicks: 7

Saves: 3