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Defiance add two Academy products

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Juan Alvarez and Obed Vargas sign with Tacoma Defiance.

Sounders FC Digital // Lindsey Wasson

The youth movement in the Seattle Sounders organization is obviously not limited to the First Team. Tacoma Defiance has been one of the youngest teams in the USL Championship throughout its existence, and that won’t be changing any time soon. Following the addition of four more veteran players, Defiance announced on Friday that Academy players Juan Alvarez and Obed Vargas had signed with the team.

Alvarez, a 16 year-old attacking midfielder, has spent time in First Team training during 2021 and made his presence noted when he scored the lone goal in one of the two preseason friendlies with San Diego Loyal. He’s yet another example of the full player development pipeline, first having joined the Sounders Discovery Program at the age of 12 before becoming a full-time Academy player at 14. Alvarez trained with Tacoma in 2020 with the Academy season canceled due to the pandemic.

Obed Vargas has been in training with Defiance throughout preseason, and has done well enough to earn mention by both Garth Lagerwey and Brian Schmetzer in recent interviews. Vargas, 15, is another attacking-minded midfielder capable of playing all over the center of midfield. At the academy level he demonstrated impressive vision and the ability to find the right pass to make use of it. Based on the reviews coming out of the organization, it seems likely that he’ll be able to translate that ability to the next level when he earns time on the field.

Both players have experience with US Youth National teams, as well as playing in international tournaments as part of the Sounders Academy. While that won’t necessarily help them to manage the increased physical challenge of competing against grown men, it is the kind of experience at higher levels of competition that the club feels helps to prepare players for the professional game. They’ll need to call on that experience as they push for playing time in a crowded Defiance midfield, as their signings brings the roster to a total of 19 players with 10 of them being midfielders.

Alvarez, Vargas, and the rest of the Tacoma Defiance squad start their season on Sunday, May 9 with a trip to face LA Galaxy II. That game will be on ESPN+ at 5 PM.


Current Tacoma Defiance Roster

Goalkeepers: Christian Herrera

Defenders: Abdoulaye Cissoko, Eric Kinzner, Randy Mendoza, Taylor Mueller, Issa Rayyan, Alex Villanueva

Midfielders: Juan Alvarez, Carlos Anguiano, Reed Baker-Whiting, Tom Brewitt, Azriel Gonzalez, Sota Kitahara, Danny Robles, Ray Serrano, Marlon Vargas, Obed Vargas

Forwards: Samuel Adeniran, Alec Díaz