There are three undefeated-at-home teams in the USL Championship. No one is surprised that Phoenix and El Paso are on that list. The third? Humble little Tacoma Defiance. In 2021 the Baymen shed the darkness and embraced home dominance.
Hosting New Mexico United will be tough. Seven of the Black-and-Yellow have scored two or more goals, a total of 12 players have at least a goal. That diversity is the strength of the New Mexico’s squad. After last year, with no home games for the season, United isn’t intimidated by travel or fans, or weather. All that matters is what they control. Troy Lesesne earned a Coach of the Year in 2020 and though they haven’t reached the heights of that fine year, they are 6-6-3, +1 and 3rd in the Mountain Division.
Tacoma Defiance are 4-4-4, -2 and tied for 4th on points in the Pacific, undefeated at home. Wade Webber’s side is in the top half of sides in expected Goals, both in the attack and on defense. All of this despite playing more road matches than home. At Cheney? They’re 6th in attack and 9th in defense.
You’ll love Tacoma.
Why You Should Watch
- Culture of Winning, at Home: Belief and swagger — that’s what feels different about Tacoma this year. Across the segments of the roster (aged veterans, hyped prospects) the squad is working more functionally as a team now than they ever have before. This unity of purpose and defiance is seen in arcane backheels, forceful rallies, and brilliant play on the pitch in Heidelberg.
- Samuel Adeniran, Defensive Forward: Against San Diego Loyal, Adeniran was a near-perfect non-scoring forward. His defensive efforts were stronger than they’ve ever been. Sam’s ability to connect to the team was strong, integrating the rest of the attack into his own play in ways that show his potential. While he didn’t get an assist or a goal in the win, he still might have been the best player on the pitch.
- Wave 1 Still Running Proud: Their MLS brethren get the attention (Atencio, Leyva), as do the younger players getting those little pops of extreme hardship experience (Alvarez, O. Vargas, Villanueva) — but Lagerwey’s first wave of teen signings to Defiance are still running strong. They aren’t finished yet, and at their eldest they are barely 21. Azriel Gonzalez had an extraordinary match in the win over Loyal; Alec Diaz is a senior national team player with Puerto Rico and is tied for the team lead with two goals; Ray Serrano also has two goals. They’ve got futures in the game and their experiences are helping Defiance win games.
How to Watch
Match date/kickoff time: Sunday, August 1, 1:30 PM PT
Venue: Cheney Stadium | Tacoma, Washington
Online Streaming: ESPN+ (affiliate link)
Defiance Absences: Eric Kinzner is suspended after seeing red on Thursday night. Sota Kitahara is on loan to FC Pinzgau Saalfelden in Austria until the end of 2021. Obed Vargas and Alex Villanueva may be limited after their short-term calls to the First Team.