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Six reasons to watch Defiance at San Diego Loyal

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Tacoma hasn’t lost to San Diego this year — why start now?

Samuel Adeniran is an area of effect spell.
Charis Wilson courtesy of Seattle Sounders and Tacoma Defiance

Tacoma Defiance’s latest road trip sends them down the coast to the southernmost reaches of California. Sunday’s match against San Diego Loyal (3 PM PT, ESPN+) is not the opportunity for Tacoma to retake a higher playoff position, but they can close the gap. Third place (10-9-4, +4) San Diego are four points up on fourth place (8-7-6, -1) Defiance.

Wade Webber’s team does have two games in hand against Loyal and three against Orange County. That benefit only matters if Defiance take points from the higher seeds and beat the lower ones. It also means short rest for Tacoma’s talent, as the remaining schedule has four double-match weeks in the remaining six to be played.

San Diego is a young club, one that has only beaten Tacoma once, all the way back on March 11, 2020. Defiance are 3-1-0, +3 against Landon Donovan’s team all time. All three of Carlos Anguiano’s goals this year are against Loyal.

Why You Should Watch

  • There Will Be Goals: Defiance only have two clean sheets on the road and Loyal only have one clean sheet at home. Both teams play at a high pace, even if that doesn’t result in goals often enough for Tacoma.
  • Ethan Dobbelaere at Right Wingback: The Seattle Sounders homegrown is the latest winger-to-wingback project in the organization (following in the steps of Defiance teammates Serrano and Rayyan). He wasn’t on the bench for Sounders, so is likely to be on the roster for Tacoma.
  • A Resurgent Alec Diaz?: Though he only played 13 minutes in the loss to Oakland Roots, the former standout looked strong. He used impressive dribbling to open space on the wing and snapped off one good shot and another that wasn’t so good. If Diaz can convert to a wide forward in the 3-4-3 there may just be a third dangerman on the squad, after Adeniran and Serrano.
  • Danny Robles, DLP: What do you do with an undersized 10 in a formation that doesn’t really use a conventional CAM? Convert him to defensive mid where his head-up vision can sling line-breaking passes and his late surges forward can deflate opposing shapes. Robles’ conversion to DM is going well and shows that a lower center of gravity and massive upper body strength can be ball winning in USL.
  • Serrano: Frankly he’s possibly the best teenager in the USL Championship this year. Creative, destructive, marathon-running — Ray Serrano has taken every single role offered him and helped the team win.
  • The Future has Imploded Into the Present’: Where the past conversations about Tacoma and S2 have always centered on development, this Defiance side not only develops three to five MLS players a year, it wins games. Capable of finishing as high as second in the Pacific Division, Wade Webber’s side has finally melded winning with development. With an average age of barely over 20, they didn’t abandon any of the organization’s philosophies about testing youth.
    Yes, I quoted a Billy Idol song from the album he hates.

How to Watch

Match date/kickoff time: Sunday, September 19, 3 years PM PT

Venue: Torero Stadium | San Diego, California

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.

Loyal: To be announced.