St. Louis CITY SC isn’t joining MLS until next year. They did a smart thing, starting their academy team two years out and starting their MLS Next Pro team the year prior to joining the top flight. This should help their First Team find some utility players and give them experience within the organization prior to the pressures of their expansion season.
A few of their talents are probably already MLS quality. The best of those is Josh Yaro, the former No. 2 draft pick of the Philadelphia Union, who has played for several teams in the USL Championship. He may only be a backup defender in the American top flight. Wan Kuzain is a winger who had some decent success with Sporting KC II and a few cups of coffee with the Sporks top team. Kwame Awuah played for NYCFC and dominant CPL side Forge FC. Vitor, their 10, was drafted by the Vancovuer Whitecaps in the 3rd round. It’s a solid concept that should help the org overall. Their head coach is former Philly man John Hackworth.
Defiance head to face the SLCSCII for the first time, in their first road game of the season. Last year Wade Webber led his side to two road wins, their best performance in several years. If Tacoma Defiance are going to be the dominant team in MLS Next Pro that people assume they will be, they need to at least double their 2021 performance. Taking it to an expansion side for an expansion side is a must.
Why you should watch
- AOC’s scoring streak — Remember when Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez was one of the bright points for the USYNT as a teen phenom? Those times faded. Reality interfered. But then something odd happened. Fonz went off to Europe on loan, did poorly, and discovered something about himself. AOC’s now a low-touch forward willingly defending from the front, putting in the type of effort that coaches love. He has 3 goals in 2 games and remains tied for the league lead heading into Sunday’s games with the other two at 3 goals having played 3 games.
- Defend front the front — Webber’s men are taking his defend-first mantra to heart, including the forwards. The team leaders in tackles are three forwards (Adeniran, RBW, AOC), an all-arounder (Teves), and a fullback (Hafferty). It’s easier for an inexperienced centerback pairing to succeed when the first band wins the ball in the attacking half.
- The B-Team — With Seattle Sounders off this weekend the matchday 20 for Webber should be stocked with the high-end prospects already on MLS deals, similar to what conquered Real Monarchs 4-0. They will still be a youngish average age of around 21, likely with the Defiance (or C team) being older than those loaned down.
How to watch
Match date/kickoff time: Sunday, April 10, 5:00 PM PT
Venue: Hermann Stadium, St. Louis, MO
Online Streaming: MLS NEXT Pro
Defiance Absences: Cody Baker (ankle)