Early on in Friday’s game between the Tacoma Defiance and Orange County SC things looked dire for the home side. Aleks Berkolds and Antonee Burke-Gilroy were not up to the task of stopping a hungry Darwin Jones. The former Sounder tore the Defiance backline apart for the first 20 minutes. He assisted on the one goal and could have easily scored a couple.
After those opening minutes though, the Defiance took over the game and kept Orange County pinned in their own half with a fantastic press. It was probably their only chance of slowing the OC attack down and it worked. Shandon Hopeau and Marlon Vargas both scored during the Defiance’s 60 minutes of dominance and they could have scored 3 or 4 more. They almost paid for bunkering in the games final 10 minutes plus stoppage but with the help of some poor OC finishing they just hung on to complete the 2-1 victory.
6’- Hopeau made an impressive run from half through a couple of OC players to 25 yards out where he put in a smart early cross. He had Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez open at the back post but couldn’t quite get his foot around the ball enough to keep it away from Aaron Cervantes.
11’- Jones drove down the left wing. He pushed a terrified Berkolds deep into the box with just the threat of his athleticism and had an easy cross from the endline to Michael Seaton who turned the ball in from a yard out. 0-1
19’- Nick Hinds played a cheeky give-and-go with Vargas who returned the ball to Hinds on the side of the box. Hinds played a nice ball across the six. It didn’t find anyone as it flashed by goal but Hopeau found it with a late run from the far side. Hopeau didn't have much of an angle but hit it hard and almost snuck it by Cervantes.
30’- Bryan Meredith came for a ball at the top of the six and got nowhere near it. The ball fell to Seaton who had an empty goal in front of him but sent the ball sailing over from the penalty spot.
37’- Ocampo-Chavez, after a nice piece of hold up, sent Hopeau in to the endline. Hopeau hit the perfect ball across goal with his first touch but Jesse Daley cut in front of Marlon Vargas and somehow angled his shot from a few yards out wide.
43’- After some chaos around the Defiance box, an OC player attempted a clearance but hit it directly off of Josh Atencio. Hopeau reacted quickest and got himself headed towards goal with a deft little first touch and with his second sent the ball past Cervantes to even the score. 1-1
52’- Off of a corner a couple Orange County defenders fought each other to head the ball clear. They collided and sent the ball straight to Vargas’ feet. Vargas got just enough on it to bounce it over the head of Cervantes who was flailing on the ground. 2-1
72’- Orange County played a great ball in behind to the speedy Kevin Coleman but Meredith did extremely well to quickly come off his line and beat him to the ball.
75’- Christopher Hagardt made his Defiance debut.
90+6’- Harry Forrester got off a rocket from the top of the 18. It looked to have Meredith beat at the back post but Berkolds made an incredible block with his head to send a sure goal over the endline.
It is probably time to give Hopeau a First Team contract
Over the last three years Hopeau has been improving steadily as he toiled away in the doldrums of the USL. Sometimes it seemed slow but it was always headed in the right direction. Then this year his progress kicked into another gear. He seems to improve noticeably every week. Tonight he put on a clinic as an attacking midfield and carried Tacoma to their most impressive performance of the season. It no longer seems unreasonable to say that he is probably better then 2 or 3 attacking midfielders on the First Team.
Ever Rubio looked good in his first start at centerback
A couple weeks ago Tacoma’s newest signing, Ever Rubio, made his first appearance for the team, playing at right back. He had as bad a debut as one could have and was pulled at the half for performance reasons. Well, turns out that’s because he is a centerback and in his first time at his prefered position was a completely different experience. He didn’t have a great passing game but he was as solid as you would want in the back. Rubio was a big part of why the Defiance held on for the opening 20 and closing 10 minutes. The Mexican defender is already 22 and is likely a longshot to make the First Team but he will provide some much needed depth and experience in Tacoma.
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 (—)
- Jesse Daley (↑1)
- Marlon Vargas (NEW)
- Sam Rogers (—)
Tacoma Defiance I 2-1 I Orange County SC
Friday, August 9, 2019
Venue: Cheney Stadium I Tacoma, Washington
Referee: Kevin Broadley
Assistants: Cameron Siler, Christian Clerc
Fourth Official: Hunter France
OC - Michael Seaton (Darwin Jones) 11’
TAC - Shandon Hopeau (Josh Atencio) 43’
TAC - Marlon Vargas 52’
OC - Michael Orozco (caution) 23’
OC - Aodhan Quinn (caution) 44’
TAC - Aleks Berkolds (caution) 45’
OC - Leonardo (caution) 47’
TAC - Marlon Vargas (caution) 55’
TAC - Nick Hinds (caution) 62’
OC - Michael Seaton (caution) 89’
LINEUPS & STATS
TAC - Bryan Meredith; Antonee Burke-Gilroy, Aleks Berkolds, Ever Rubio, Nick Hinds; Jesse Daley (Chris Hegardt 73’), Josh Atencio - captain; Shandon Hopeau, Danny Robles (Ethan Dobbelaere 70’), Marlon Vargas; Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (Alec Diaz 81’)
Substitutes not used: Trey Muse, Peter Kingston, Ray Serrano, Matt Nance
Total shots: 10
Shots on goal: 3
OC - Aaron Cervantes; Michael Orozco, Walker Hume, Leonardo (Jerry van Ewijk 71’), Kevin Alston (Joe Amico 35’); Aodhan Quinn, Edson Alvarado (Kevin Coleman 58’), Harry Forrester, Christian Duke; Darwin Jones, Michael Seaton
Substitutes not used: Carlos Lopez, Daniel Crisostomo, Giovanni Ramos Godoy
Total shots: 19
Shots on goal: 1