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Tacoma Defiance at RVG FC Toros, recap: Defiance grind out road draw

The Defiance earn first road shutout with best defensive performance of the season.

The Tacoma Defiance ended their three-week break with their annual trip to the Mexico-United States border to face the Rio Grande Valley FC Toros. The conditions were a tough return to competitive play; the temperature at kickoff was 94ºF with humidity around 50%. Despite the turn-you-into-ash conditions the Defiance were able to work a 0-0 draw with a solid, if passive, defensive performance.

Key Moments

5’- Atencio tried to hit Hopeau with a ball over the top, it looked on target but was intercepted by an RVG player. His header went backwards though and found the passes original target open in the box. Hopeau tried to volley it out of the air as it came over his shoulder, but it was too ambitious an attempt. He missed the ball completely and the chance died.

30’- Campbell played a pretty standard back pass to Muse who whiffed his clearance attempt. The Defiance were lucky to escape with their shutout intact.

35’- Hydration break.

45+3’- Jesús Enríquez cut inside and worked himself an inch of space to get off a shot in the box. He could only hit it straight at Muse who easily caught it.

55’- After a few minutes of keeping RGV pinned in their own third Rydstrand’s service from a corner find Aleks Berkolds open at the back post. He couldn’t quite get on top of it and he sent his header out for a goal kick.

60’- Tacoma failed to clear after a corner and the ball founds its way to Erik Bird in the corner. He sent in a good ball to Kyle Adams who had a free header from 6 yards out but sent his attempt just inches wide.

73’- Atencio made a tackle in the box that put the ball right in the path of an RGV player who was in on goal. Muse saw the situation developing quickly and rushed off his line to poke the ball away just in time.

82’- Muse reacted quickly to push a quality shot by Nico Lemoine over the bar.

90+1-90+7’- RGV kept the ball in and around the Defiance box for most of extra time. The Defiance could not clear the ball and it was absolute chaos. RGV were unable to make good on the pressure due to some excellent last ditch defending from the Defiance who also benefited from buckets of luck.

Talking Points

Let’s all do the gegenpress

This was a hot and cold match from the Defiance. They spent a lot of time with 8+ players behind the ball and struggling to even counter attack, but there were also parts of the match where they looked like they might rip the doors off the Toros. These successful attacking stretches were defined by counter pressing.

It is a tactic the Defiance are well suited for with their quick front four, speedy outside backs and connected short passing. Upon turning the ball over the two or three closest players can collapse on the opponent in possession before they can complete their first pass, regaining possession almost as quick as it was lost. Since the Defiance have a backline that struggles to contain teams in their defensive third it is a relatively successful defensive strategy for them. It also fits their attacking style, which relies on oppressive possession over counter attacking, better.

And yet, the Defiance only implemented the counter press for around 15 total minutes against the Toros. The heat can be blamed for some of the under-utilization, but they still seemed to give up on it too often.

Has Muse found his artist

Trey Muse had his most consistent match of the season. For a lot of this year Muse has struggled in most areas beside shot stopping. Against RGV he showed a much more complete game though. He stopped all four shots he faces and controlled his area well, taking some of the pressure off a backline that struggles in the air. Twice he came off his line perfectly to quash dangerous one-on-one opportunities for RGV. The Defiance took a lot of the passing load off of him—he still had one bad moment with his feet—which probably isn’t a long term solution but with possession passing removed from his mind he looked much more confident and showed how good he can be in all other areas. He will eventually need to improve his passing but seems smart to allow him to become confident that he can be a goalkeeper in a professional league.

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. Sam Rogers (↑1)
  4. Aleks Berkolds (NEW)
  5. Josh Atencio (—)


Match Stats


Tacoma Defiance I 0-0 I Rio Grande Valley FC

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Venue: H-E-B Park I Edinburgh, Texas

Referee: Calin Radosav

Assistants: Francisco Bermudez, Jeremy Weed

Fourth Official: Julian Trevino




RGV - Sam Junqua (caution) 42’

TAC - Nick Hinds (caution) 58’

TAC - Josh Atencio (caution) 69’

TAC - Jesse Daley (caution) 78’

TAC - Marlon Vargas (caution) 90’+6’


TAC - Trey Muse; Denso Ulysse, Jonathan Campbell, Aleks Berkolds, Nick Hinds; Josh Atencio, Joel Rydstrand (Jesse Daley 62’); Shandon Hopeau (Sam Rogers 84’), Danny Robles (Antonee Burke-Gilroy 56’), Marlon Vargas; Alec Diaz

Substitutes not used: Conrad Lee, Ray Serrano

Total shots: 8

Shots on goal: 0

Fouls: 10

Offside: 0

Corner-kicks: 4

Saves: 4

RGV - Michael Nelson; Zach Jackson, Erik McCue, Kyle Adams, Sam Junqua; Romilio Hernandez (Nico Lemoine 79’), Isidro Martinez; Kevin Rodriguez (Eric Bird 56’), Camilo Monroy, Jesus Enriquez; Ronaldo Pena (Carlos Small 74’)

Substitutes not used: Nicolas Corti, Robert Castellanos, Andrew Samuels, David Cabrera

Total shots: 19

Shots on goal: 4

Fouls: 12

Offside: 2

Corner-kicks: 8

Saves: 0

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