Just over a month ago Tacoma Defiance hosted their last home match (a win). Since then they went 0-1-2 in their only three matches, and took an unusual, unplanned break when a rescheduled match against Oakland Roots butted up against the planned midseason break.
While Defiance were limited in play, the rest of the Pacific Division saw some shifts. San Diego Loyal surged forth, now looking like a legitimate #3 in the division. Between signing a few talents and Landon Donovan settling on a rotation, Loyal look more than capable. Their -2 goal differential is an odd aberration.
Competing for that final playoff spot are Lights, Los Dos, and Republic, with Defiance still in that mix. With a four-match home stand ahead of them, Wade Webber’s Tacoma side could go on a nice little run. They are 3-0-1 at Cheney Stadium this season.
Defiance can also look at the First Team for some inspiration. The Baymen were a large part of the Sounders’ win at Austin, and Defiance players have been getting hardship call-ups during the break. Most Tacoma players have had multiple training sessions playing with and against the First Team, another small benefit of the break in play.
Now, they just have to take that hype and training to their own pitch.
Why You Should Watch
- Are They Wingers or Attacking Mids: Tacoma’s 3-4-3 can play two different ways. There’s the version with three forwards that puts five in a line, each in an attacking channel, and there’s the version that plays like Seattle’s 3-4-2-1 with attacking mids more similar to a W facing the goal. That simplification overlooks those times when the wider forwards (or attacking mids) are doing asymmetrical things. For the tactically inclined, Tacoma offers a fun glance at how that front-3 operate, what is expected of modern wingbacks, and how to play with no pure defensive mid.
- Bring the Austin Experience to Tacoma: When youth was served at Austin that was an indication that player development was going well within the organization. The Extreme Hardship signings of Samuel Adeniran, Juan Alvarez, Obed Vargas, and Alex Villanueva show that the depth of the depth can fill in once every so often. Can they carry their success from their string of call-ups onto the pitch at Cheney and throughout the USL?
- From Hardship to Contract: A couple of those players, and maybe others, can help Seattle fill in real holes in the First Team roster. The Sounders have been short a 4th forward and 2nd/3rd right wingback for the whole season. More depth in general could also be useful. With a Supplemental and a Homegrown roster slot available, Tacoma’s 18 players should be targeting self and team improvement that shows that they are worthy of more than short-term deals — the short list right now is Adeniran, Diaz, Rayyan, and O. Vargas. Score goals, take three points, and outwork the opponent every single time.
How to Watch
Match date/kickoff time: Thursday, July 29, 7:00 PM PT
Venue: Cheney Stadium | Tacoma, Washington
Online Streaming: ESPN+ (affiliate link)
Defiance Absences: Sota Kitahara is on loan to FC Pinzgau Saalfelden in Austria until the end of 2021.
Loyal Absences: No absences reported.