After a couple of weeks without a game, Tacoma Defiance head down to Providence Park seeking to claim a second consecutive win against Portland Timbers 2. A result in tonight’s game (6 PM PT, ESPN+) would allow Tacoma to start a bit of an unbeaten streak since their return to competition.
Portland’s start to the season hasn’t exactly the way they will have hoped, losing 4-1 to Reno 1868 FC in their most recent home game. That result brought them to 0-3-0 since the start of the season back in March, with a -11 goal difference. Both of their games since the restart have been 3-0 losses. Tacoma, on the other hand, sit at 1-2-1 and an even goal difference after starting the season with two losses. Since the restart they have a win and a draw, a +3 goal difference, and the chance to go to second in Group A.
The Defiance have shown both a desire and an ability to find the goal through their first two games of the restart, scoring three goals in each game. Leading the charge on that front has been 18 year-old forward Alec Diaz, who has two goals in the last two games. Danny Robles has helped to shoulder the load as well, pitching in with a goal and an assist since the restart.
Diaz, who has been capped by the Puerto Rico Men’s National Team, is a Sounders Academy star who made a big splash in his first USL minutes when he scored two goals in 312 minutes at the end of 2018 as a 16 year-old. Since that hot start Diaz hasn’t seen as much of the spotlight. Teammates now signed with the Seattle Sounders drew more of the shine, and players like Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez and Justin Dhillon took most of the reps at forward in 2019 as Diaz contributed a goal and an assist through 747 minutes and 16 appearances. With the First Team players away for the MLS is Back Tournament during the restart, Diaz was given the starting spot as the team’s no. 9 and made the opportunity count, starting the scoring for Tacoma in both games. Those two goals have come from six shots, with a blocked shot being the only one of his looks that he’s failed to put on target. He’s not a huge part of the team’s possession game, but Diaz hasn’t hurt them in that area, either, missing only three of his 26 passes, and adding two key passes for good measure.
Things have been tough for Portland, with three losses and one goal scored since play resumed. Adding to their defensive woes, team captain Max Ornstil — a starting centerback — won’t be available tonight after drawing two yellows and being ejected in the 83rd minute on Wednesday night against Reno.
Keys to the Match
- Exploit the weaknesses: Portland Timbers 2 have given up 13 goals in 2020, and 7 goals since the resumption of play. Tacoma have scored scored 3 goals in each of their last two games, including their last match against Portland. This could be an opportunity for the Defiance attack to stack up even more goals and assists.
- Stretch the shutout streak: Tacoma Defiance haven’t given up a goal in 143 minutes of game time. After keeping a clean sheet against Portland the last time out, the Defiance defense are seeking to stretch their shutout streak to 233 minutes against their rivals from the South.
- Flex on ‘em: The Defiance offense has every right to swagger a little bit right now. The defense may be feeling themselves, too, as they go up against an attack that they shut out the last time they stepped on the field. This game could present a chance to impose their style more than they have in their last two games. Tacoma loves to possess the ball, and are dangerous when they move the ball quickly or hit teams on the counter. If they can combine those two, using possession to find moments to play their attackers behind the defense, they could be dominant against Portland.
Tacoma runs out the same XI as last time they faced Portland. Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez, loaned for the season from the Sounders First Team, makes the 18.
How to Watch
Date/Time: Monday, August 3, 6 PM PT
Location: Providence Park, Portland, Oregon