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Tacoma Defiance at Portland Timbers 2, recap: So many headers

T2 exploit the Defiance’s greatest weakness on their way to victory

A rivalry that was once dominated by the Tacoma Defiance (née Seattle Sounders 2) — the Defiance won 13 of the first 14 matches between the two sides — has turned fully to the Portland Timbers 2’s favor. The latest T2 win came on Friday, 6-3. T2 have now won the last four meetings.

T2 found the Defiance’s weakness (both stopping and defending crosses) within three minutes of the match’s opening whistle and exploited it mercilessly in the first half. They ended up scoring three times off headers from crosses in the opening 45 minutes. The second half was more even and entirely wide open. The Defiance managed to score of their own off a pair of striker’s finishes from Justin Dhillon and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez. They also let in two.

The Defiance never even threatened to win this match, but perhaps they can take solace in ending their 561-minute away scoring drought.

Key Moments

3’- Dairon Asprilla got the ball down the right side. Alex Villanueva backed way off of him which let him time and space to pick out Brayan Hurtado at the near post who had an easy header he flashed past Trey Muse for the match’s first goal. 0-1

12’- Alex Roldan hit a cross to Danny Robles at the spot and Robles connected excellently with a volley that ended up a little too close to Aljaz Ivacic who still had to do well to turn the powerful shot aside.

22’- T2 again got down the right side. Foster Langsdorf sent in an uncontested cross towards Asprilla who headed it in from the center of the box. 0-2

24’- Muse made a quality double save, the first off a powerful header by Max Ornstil from 6 yards out and just moment later off a left-footed rocket from Ryan Sierakowski.

40’- Another run made down the right for T2, more horrible defense on the wing (excusable from the young Villanueva, not excusable from Handwalla Bwana) and again horrible defending in the box (inexcusable from both Sam Rogers and Aleks Berkolds) as Harold Hansen found Sierakowski with another cross and T2 put in another headed goal. 0-3

42’- Tacoma got out on the break led by Bwana down the right side. By the time he got to the endline there were four Defiance and just two T2 players in the box. Bwana sent in a cutback cross along the ground. It looked like he had missed everyone but Roldan swept in with a late run to the back post and put the ball into the net. 1-3

45’- After a foul by Jesse Daley on the edge of the box Eryk Williamson hit a screamer of a postage stamp free kick that beat Muse — and would have beat anyone besides maybe the Black Spider — to restore T2’s lead. 1-4

48’- Josh Atencio brought down Langsdorf in the box. Asprilla converted the penalty. 1-5

50’- Dhillon missed a sitter after a fantastic ball by Robles found him in the middle of the box with time and space to pick out his shot.

53’- Dhillon got in behind, again from an excellent Robles pass. His first shot was stopped by the goalkeeper but it fell back to him and he finished it on the second try. 2-5

58’- Asprilla should have been sent off after jumping into a two-footed tackle on Chris Hegardt. He was given a yellow.

83’- Jose Carlos Anguiano dribbled into the box before sending the ball out to the side of the box to Langsdorf who immediately returned the ball to Anguiano who then had space to get a shot off which he sent past Muse from 10 yards out. 2-6

90’- Herbert Robinson García stole the ball in the offensive third and quickly got it to Ocampo-Chavez. The First Team forward dribbled through a defender and than made a side footed finish from the top of the box look like a stroll through the park. 3-6

Talking Points

Chris Hegardt made his first start and Alex Villenueve made his first left back start in the USL Championship

On first look it seems Hegardt didn’t do too much in this match but behind the invisibility he actually did quite well. He was very steady in the middle of the pitch, a place where a ton of young players struggle. Hegardt didn’t have the ball taken off him once and only had one incomplete short pass in the midfield. His completion percentage, 91.4%, was highest of anyone on the Defiance with more than 20 passes. To play as a center midfielder he will need to improve his defensive involvement and look forward a bit more but it was a good debut at the position for a 17-year-old.

Villenueve struggled mightily at left back and did not receive any help from Bwana. He looks to be much more comfortable on the right side.

Trey Muse was incredible

The absence of Muse from the starting lineup has been a bit puzzling. Muse made sure not to alleviate any of that puzzlement against T2. It is not that often that one says a goalkeeper who let in 6 had an excellent game, but Muse really was excellent. While he let in those 6 goals he saved 8. He stopped everything he had even a chance to stop and it would be a stretch to put any blame on him for any of T2’s 6 goals. He had a particularly impressive stretch between minute 24 and 26 where he made 4 saves, none of them easy.

Not only was Muse good between his posts; he was good controlling his box and, most impressively, with distribution. With his centerbacks truly unable to win any headers in the box Muse caught or punched away any cross he could reasonably be asked to. With the ball at his feet he was solid—completing 87.5% of his passes and only bailing out with a clearance 5 times.

Muse was the best player on the field on Friday night and without him the Defiance would have lost by several more goals.

Highlights

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. Danny Robles (—)
  4. Jesse Daley (↑1)
  5. Marlon Vargas (↓1)

Match Stats

MATCH SUMMARY

Tacoma Defiance I 3-6 I Portland Timbers 2

Friday, September 20, 2019

Venue: Providence Park I Portland, Oregon

Referee: Matthew Thompson

Assistants: Andrew Marihart, Ryan Jung

Fourth Official: Mike Hohnholz

SCORING SUMMARY

POR - Brayan Hurtado (Dairon Asprilla) 3’

POR - Dairon Asprilla (Foster Langsdorf) 22’

POR - Ryan Sierakowski (Harold Hanson) 40’

TAC - Alex Roldan (Handwalla Bwana) 42’

POR - Eryk Williamson 45’

POR - Dairon Asprilla (penalty) 48’

TAC - Justin Dhillon 53’

POR - Jose Carlos Anguiano (Foster Langsdorf) 83’

TAC - Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (Herbert Robinson) 90’

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY

TAC - Jesse Daley (caution) 44’

TAC - Justin Dhillon (caution) 53’

POR - Dairon Asprilla (caution) 58’

LINEUPS & STATS

TAC - Trey Muse; Jesse Daley, Aleks Berkolds, Sam Rogers, Alex Villanueva (Nick Hinds 56’); Chris Hegardt (Herbert Robinson 74’), Josh Atencio (Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez 56’); Alex Roldan, Danny Robles, Handwalla Bwana; Justin Dhillon

Substitutes not used: Conrad Lee, Ethan Dobbelaere, Shandon Hopeau, Ray Serrano

Total shots: 11

Shots on goal: 6

Fouls: 12

Offside: 3

Corner-kicks: 3

Saves: 7

POR - Alijaz Ivacic; Harold Hanson (Caleb Kiner 81’), Max Ornstil, Todd Wharton, Marco Farfan (Nathan Smith HT); Eryk Williamson, Jose Carlos Anguiano; Dairon Asprilla, Ryan Sierakowski, Brayan Hurtado (Cristian Ojeda 68’); Foster Langsdorf

Substitutes not used: Jake Leeker, Gio Calixtro, Dyson Clapier

Total shots: 21

Shots on goal: 13

Fouls: 13

Offside: 0

Corner-kicks: 10

Saves: 3

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