These two sides aren’t as far away as they’ve been in past seasons. In 2021, Tacoma Defiance are competing for a playoff spot with their 5th place standing and a 8-9-6, -3 record. Phoenix Rising are still the class of the Pacific Division at 16-3-5, +31. Coach Rick Schantz’s team can clinch a playoff berth with a win and can win the division tonight with a win and some help.
Wade Webber has his work cut out for hm. Tacoma are on a four-game losing streak. Phoenix have won five straight. Going toe-to-toe with Rising will be an immense challenge.
The Saturday night match must be one where Defiance work together as a group to overcome a challenge that is greater than they are.
Why You Should Watch
- A Diverse Group: Recognition that each player has their own unique skills, which when combined are strong and capable. This is the same group that went unbeaten for eight straight matches.
- Tactical Awareness: Feints, surges, use of three dimensions, and the shift that dead ball play empowers help a team that is the underdog. Phoenix are the best transition team in USL. Don’t get into that type of battle. Fighting on their own terms, Tacoma can challenge the giants.
- Defensive Mid: Former Sounders U-23 Aodhan Quinn is setting a Phoenix record for games with an assist (5 straight). He has 2 goals and 6 assists in his last five matches. His late-season performance is amplifying the already potent attack of Moar and Asante, two MVP candidates. Limiting Quinn will got a long way to cutting down Rising.
- Bring Back the Magic: Samuel Adeniran’s been quiet for too long. His matches against Phoenix so far this year have produced seven shots (six on target) and one goal. Adeniran is fully capable of his mind-warping sorcery that creates goals out of nothing. One moment like that can change tonight’s chances.
- Small, but Fierce: Kobolds are small enemies that utilize traps and togetherness to overcome large opponents. Players such as Randy Mendoza and Ray Serrano have channeled that ethos at times in 2021. They must channel that for 90+ minutes against Phoenix.
How to Watch
Match date/kickoff time: Saturday, September 25, 7 PM PT
Venue: Cheney Stadium | Tacoma, Washington
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.
Rising: Zac Lubin is out injured.