TUKWILA, Wash. — Playing their first match at Starfire since 2017, Tacoma Defiance looked like potential beasts of the MLS NEXT Pro Pacific Division. Dominating Real Monarchs SLC, Wade Webber’s side was able to score off of patient possession, rapid transition, and by forcing turnovers deep in the attacking third. The 4-0 win was a perfect soccer start to the Defiance in their new era.
Three Things I Liked
Dylan Teves in the free role
After an amazing season with the University of Washington, there was some question as to what position Teves would play in MLS. There’s no question at his best role at the MLS NEXT Pro level — he’s a free 10, and great at it. There was the goal and the assist. There was also plenty of pressure all over the attacking half of the pitch. Postmatch he said he’s studied how Nico Lodeiro and Albert Rusnak play when they are the free 10. For the level he nailed it.
Unlike his last appearance with Defiance, Dylan is not one of the kids. He’s an elder, a leader.
“We’re not here to just get minutes; we’re here to compete,” Teves told Sounder at Heart. “We’re here to make sure the other team doesn’t want to come back again and play us. At the end of the day, that’s what it’s all about — making sure that we have a showing each weekend, kind of embrace and especially as a team, you know, just do it for the team.”
Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez as a low-touch forward
Fonz’s last brace was on July 24, 2019 against Las Vegas Lights. His last time playing as many as 85 minutes was Sept. 17, 2020. Starting 2022 in a new league and back with the Sounders org, Ocampo-Chavez showed exactly why there were teams wanting him after his U-17 World Cup performance.
But he did it as a different style of player. Where his best moments of 2019 were as a winger running onto the ball, he’s now a low-touch forward in the mold of Raul Ruidiaz. AOC didn’t need touches. He needed to seize space and maximize his moments. He did. Alfonso worked space like Ed White, scoring two goals off headers.
Integration between young Sounders and older Defiance
Though eight of the starters were First Team players, the eldest outfielders were the two fullbacks (Joe Hafferty and Randy Mendoza). Only one starter had never taken the pitch for Defiance before, draftee Hal Uderitz. Eight played for the Academy at some point. The boundaries between Academy/Defiance/Sounders reserves are blurry, which helps everyone. Teves played with Atencio and Leyva and Marlon Vargas in the past. Cissoko and Adeniran were Defiance just a year ago.
There are captains and leaders scattered throughout the gameday 20.
“Seven years, eight seasons ago, it was all just making it up. And you make mistakes, you learn, you try new things,” Defiance coach Wade Webber said postgame. “And we’re at a point now where, you know, we have guys like, Marlon Vargas. I could bring him off the bench. He’s been playing for four seasons at the USL level. Now, you know, what a luxury to have a player of that quality.
“Our third goal is an example of what we can do you know, comfortable possession attack dangerous spots, find a free man in the box, Alfonso finishes. It can be that simple.”
One Concern I Have
The central defense didn’t look great. There were some decisions in the central defensive square that a more experienced opponent could have taken advantage of. In last year’s league, teams like Phoenix, Orange County, Sacramento would have pounced on those half-errors.
Those teams aren’t here now. In Next Pro this could be a problem when a team has a few of its MLS attackers playing down. Against the Monarchs they were able to get away with it.
Check This Stat
Five Defiance players had a better individual xG+xA than the best of the Monarchs. Those five were Reed Baker Whiting (0.74), Sam Adeniran (0.67), Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (0.55), Dylan Teves (0.44) and Randy Mendoza (0.34).
Tacoma Defiance 4 – Real Monarchs 0
Sunday, March 27, 2022
Venue: Starfire Stadium
Referee: Adorae Monroy
Weather: 56 and partly cloudy
TAC – Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (Dylan Teves) 40’
TAC – Dylan Teves (Reed Baker-Whiting) 49’
TAC – Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (Randy Mendoza) 86’
TAC – Sameul Adeniran 90+2’
RM – Christian Nydegger (caution) 31’
TAC – Sam Adeniran (caution) 54’
TAC – Josh Atencio (caution) 58’
TAC – Hal Uderitz (caution) 63’
RM – Pedro Fonseca (caution) 75’
LINEUPS & STATS
Tacoma Defiance – Stefan Cleveland, Joe Hafferty, Hal Udertiz, Abdoulaye Cissoko, Randy Mendoza – captain, Josh Atencio (Marlon Vargas 60’), Danny Leyva, Sam Adeniran, Dylan Teves, Reed Baker-Whiting (Juan Alvarez 82’), Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (Valentin Sabella 88’)
Substitutes not used: Wallis Lapsley, Wyatt Nelson, Travian Sousa, Eric Kinzner, Achille Robin, Snyder Brunell
Total shots: 16
Shots on goal: 9
Real Monarchs – Gavin Beavers, Marcus Vazquez (Luis Rivera 78’), Bobby Pierre, Jesse Lopez, Pierre Reedy, Christian Nydegger, Julio Benitez (Jude Wellings 67’), Pedro Fonseca, Terron Williams, John Imperato (Leo Torres 67’), Yekeson Subah (Izahi Amparo 81’)
Substitutes not used: Abokye Bikyeombe, Ethan Zamora
Total shots: 7
Shots on goal: 4