Tacoma Defiance have added another player to the now growing contingent of players from within the Seattle Sounders organization out on loan. Azriel Gonzalez joins Sota Kitahara, currently loaned to FC Pinzgau Saalfelden of the Austrian third division, as those loaned out by Tacoma Defiance. Gonzalez has been loaned to FC Edmonton for the remainder of 2021 where he will hope to see more of the field than he has so far this season with Tacoma. Sounders first-teamers Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (Pinzgau), Shandon Hopeau (San Antonio FC) and Trey Muse (San Diego Loyal) are also out on loan.
FC Edmonton’s Head Coach Alan Koch had positive words on Gonzalez’s addition to the squad: “Azriel is an excellent young player who has shown significant growth within the Seattle Sounders organization. We are excited to expose him to a new environment and to help him in his development to push him to even higher levels, and we expect him to have a significant impact as an Eddie this season.”
Gonzalez first signed a professional contract with Sounders 2 in 2017, and has accumulated a total of 69 appearances with the Sounders USL team. In that time he’s contributed 10 goals and 10 assists over the course of 3,714 minutes of play at the USL Championship level.
Minutes have been harder to come by for Gonzalez in 2021, having only played 378 minutes over 8 appearances. In those limited minutes he’s been relatively productive, however, with 1 goal and 2 assists and 0.71 goals+assists per 90 minutes. Gonzalez was part of a crowded group of attacking players with Tacoma, as one of eight players primarily tasked with attacking roles. He joins a similarly crowded group in Edmonton, where there are seven other players listed as attackers on the roster, but as of yet no one player has set themselves apart as either a goal scorer or creator. That’s reflected in the team’s goal-scoring record, with only 12 goals scored through 11 games.
Tacoma Defiance Head Coach Wade Webber echoed sentiments Garth Lagerwey has shared about the opportunity that sending young players on loan offers for their growth.
“All of us on the developmental side of the club are excited for Azriel to have an opportunity to challenge himself and expand his range of experience in Edmonton,” Webber said. “While his absence will be felt on and off the field, this is an important step for his career because he is moving away from what is comfortable and attacking the unknown. We are confident he can grow from this experience.”