For the first 77 minutes, the Tacoma Defiance looked to have carried their momentum from Wednesday’s match against Las Vegas Lights into their meeting with Oklahoma City Energy FC. Shandon Hopeau and Marlon Vargas had very good matches, but some poor decision making in the box by Handwalla Bwana kept their efforts from ending in goals. As happens, the Defiance were punished for their poor finishing as the Energy turned Defiance mistakes in the final 13 minutes into goals to give them a 2-0 victory.
12’- Hopeau got the ball at midfield and made a swashbuckling run up the middle. Near the top of the 18, he laid a perfect pass to Bwana that left him with just the keeper to beat. Bwana did beat Cody Laurendi but an Energy defender covered behind his keeper well and blocked Bwana’s shot off the line.
29’- Josh Atencio made a bad turnover at the top of Tacoma’s defensive third to give the Energy a two-on-two break. Jonathan Campbell was able to slow down Deshorn Brown just enough for Atencio to recover and knock the ball off Brown from behind as he set up for a shot.
38’- Bwana got the ball in the box and was able to clear just enough space for a shot. He hit it well but the shot caromed off the post.
49’- Vargas made a great cross-field pass to put Hopeau into the box, but a poor first touch gave Laurendi time to come out and close down all of Hopeau’s options. Hopeau sent his shot wide.
63’- Brown beat Sam Rogers for pace and got on the end of a through ball. Trey Muse did incredibly well to keep the ball out of the net, coming out quickly and making himself huge to smother the one-on-one chance.
75’- Vargas made another incredible pass into the box but instead of taking an open one-time chance, Bwana chopped the ball back inside which allowed several defenders to close and stop him from getting off a shot,
77’- Kyle Hyland took a shot from 25 yards out. He didn’t get too much on it but he may have seen Muse was out of position, which gave him ample space on Muse’s left to slide it inside the post. 0-1
89’- Tacoma wavered on a set piece sent into the box yet again. Atiba Harris rose above every Defiance player and sent a glanced header past Muse for their second. 0-2
The Defiance needs to get better in the middle third.
A large part of the Defiance’s success on Wednesday was their ability to keep hold of the ball in the middle third. There were worries that they wouldn’t be able to replicate that performance against a team that pressures them more in the middle and defensive third. The Energy did just that and it was, unfortunately, effective. Still, the Defiance were better moving through the middle third then they have been most of the season—mostly due to very good performances by Jesse Daley and Hopeau—but they weren’t good enough to mount the same relentless attack that undid Vegas. They just have to be better in the middle third to implement their oppressive attack. The only way they can achieve this is through players getting better, which we saw with Daley and Joel Rydstrand Wednesday. Because of the nature of the Defiance, those two players aren’t going to play every week, so players like Atencio and Antonee Burke-Gilroy need to keep improving and, hopefully, they will.
Muse continues to improve.
I was worried about Muse for the first third of the season. He struggled to do anything at the USL level. That has changed though. He looks to finally be settled and is making weekly improvements in all areas besides passing. He had close to a perfect match today until the 75’ when he seemed to lose concentration—as young players do—and make some mistakes, one of which resulted in a goal. The last 15 minutes don’t negate the improvements he showed for the rest of the game and Muse is now looking like a player that could have a future in MLS.
Hopeau impressed when he needed to.
Hopeau has continued to make improvements in his game this year but this was a particularly important match for him. A player who would be his competition with the First Team, Bwana, was also in the lineup. Hopeau showed that he may be the better player, thoroughly outplaying Bwana in most areas of the match. The organization may now be asking themselves serious questions about Hopeau’s abilities versus Bwana’s. One game isn’t going to put Hopeau ahead, but this is a big piece of evidence in Hopeau’s favor.
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.)
- Shandon Hopeau (—)
- Denso Ulysse (—)
- Aleks Berkolds (↑1)
- Jesse Daley (NEW)
- Sam Rogers (↓2)
Tacoma Defiance I 0-2 I OKC Energy FC
Saturday, July 27, 2019
Venue: Cheney Stadium I Tacoma, Washington
Referee: Turan Ozdemir
Assistants: Baboucarr Jallow, Seth Martin
Fourth Official: Joe Tompkins
Weather: 72 degrees and mostly cloudy
OKC - Kyle Hyland (Je-Vaughn Watson) 77’
OKC - Atiba Harris (Rafael Garcia) 89’
OKC - Owayne Omar Gordon (caution) 15’
OKC - Callum Ross (caution) 53’
LINEUPS & STATS
TAC - Trey Muse; Antonee Burke-Gilroy, Sam Rogers, Jonathan Campbell, Nick Hinds; Jesse Daley (Joel Rydstrand 81’), Josh Atencio; Shandon Hopeau, Handwalla Bwana (Ray Serrano 77’), Marlon Vargas; Alec Diaz (Danny Robles 68’)
Substitutes not used: Jacob Castro, Aleks Berkolds, Ben Numbi, Ever Rubio
Total shots: 13
Shots on goal: 2
OKC - Cody Laurendi; Alvin Jones, Atiba Harris, Christian Ibeagha, Kyle Hyland; Owayne Omar Gordon (Kalokwera Okot 84’), Rafael Garcia, Je-Vaughn Watson, Callum Ross (Christian Eissele 76’), Cordell Cato (Jonathan Brown 75’); Deshorn Brown
Substitutes not used: Bryan Byars, Amer Sasivarevic, Mekeil Williams, Alexy Bosetti
Total shots: 16
Shots on goal: 4