Underestimate Oakland at your peril. Their midweek match was a beatdown of Phoenix Rising. It was Tacoma Defiance who last beat Oakland Roots. The five matches since have seen Oakland scraping themselves up off the bottom of the table — they’re now a respectable side who can challenge the best of the Pacific.
Tacoma is one of the best of the Pacific. They are undefeated in seven and have won three in a row. Wade Webber’s side already owns the tiebreakers with Orange County and San Diego Loyal. A victory over Roots would move Defiance to second in the division, with the chance to host a playoff game at Cheneyville. After tonight’s match, Webber’s team has nine matches at undefeated Cheney Stadium and just five on the road.
How did Tacoma get so good? By being all about defense and team before anything else. They work together to keep other teams from scoring and know that someone in Commencement Gray will score for them. They believe in each other.
Why You Should Watch
Three Narrow Forwards: Seattle may have to look to what Webber’s 3-4-3 does. There are times you can see it as the 3-4-2-1 that Sounders use when Montero and Lodeiro sit underneath Ruidíaz. It can also flex into those attackers playing as wide forwards — not wingers — a useful setup when Morris and Chú are on the matchday roster. These switches are about maximizing player talents, and a team trained in them will shift nearly seamlessly.
If Ray Serrano, Juan Alvarez, Ethan Dobbelare, or Alec Diaz start as the wide players you’ll see that narrow forward set. When Reed Baker-Whiting, Obed Vargas, or Danny Robles are listed wide you’ll see the familiar 3-4-2-1. When you get a mix of players a hybrid happens. Defiance play without a traditional #10, so the shape won’t play exactly the same as when the First Team uses it.
- Centerbacks-R-Us: At the beginning of the season Tacoma played a 4-man backline. There was some question as to whether they had the quality and depth to run with three centerbacks. Now the only question is how to get all of their quality on the pitch.
Soon-to-be US citizen Tom Brewitt looks to be MLS replacement level. Eric Kinzner and Jackson Ragen are potential HGPs. Taylor Mueller is a USL legend still performing at a high level while also able to get rest days. Randy Mendoza may not have an MLS future due to his size, but the small and mighty flex-defender can play pro soccer for a decade if he wants to.
- An amuse-bouche: There’s no better way to whet the appetite for Puget Sound soccer than by watching Puget Sound soccer. These young men play on the same magical pitch as OL Reign and have dreams of playing at Lumen someday. Saturday night's match lets you enjoy the soccer in your own home without the tens of thousands, knowing that your magical day of soccer is one sunrise away.
How to Watch
Match date/kickoff time: Saturday, August 28, 5:30 PM PT
Venue: Laney College | Oakland, CA
Online Streaming: ESPN+
Defiance Absences: There are no injuries to report. Sota Kitahara is on loan to FC Pinzgau Saalfelden in Austria until the end of 2021. Azriel Gonzalez is on loan to FC Edmonton through the 2021 CPL season.
Roots: To be announced.