There’s a mini/micro/kinda Cascadia Cup in the lower divisions again. Now that Whitecaps 2 and Timbers 2 both exist as pro teams, the regional trivalry will be back. Even if the fans aren’t into it, the players will be. That’s been true at the Academy level for some time.
During their hiatus from the professional ranks, Vancouver Whitecaps 2 were kind of active as a U23 side in the British Columbia provincial league. The ‘Caps treated that team as a stepping stone for their young talents and have brought many of the players and the coaching staff forward into Next Pro. Coach Nick Dasovic played for the Whitecaps in the A-League era, facing off against Tacoma Defiance coach Wade Webber. According to Webber the two are familiar, as they’ve been in the same circles for a few decades.
Defiance should have the edge in Sunday’s match. They have performed better in the early season, have roster continuity from last season’s Defiance signings, and are playing in their re-familiar home. Webber will ask his players to defend from the front, as usual, pushing them to earn their way to MLS contracts and playing time not through verve but through grind. The front three are almost certainly going to be First Team players RBW, AOC, and SOA.
This is an “expanded” broadcast as the MLS Next Pro game of the week, which means a couple more cameras and a broadcast analyst.
Why you should watch
- AOC’s scoring streak — This is going to stay in the why to watch as long as there’s as a streak. ‘Fonz’s four goals in three matches has him tied for the lead league when the day started. Each of his goals are on headers; each are from within the 18. He’s also the best passer among the goal leaders, leads in shots on target, and is 6th in shots taken. Most ahead of him have played four matches already. The advanced stats? They aren’t quite as good. Scoring headers isn’t sustainable.
- Georgie Minoungou — In his pre-match press conference, Webber mentioned that the loanee from MFK Vyskov has looked quite good in practice and should get his first minutes in Defiance black on Sunday. Wade also noted that Minoungou is a player who has somehow slipped through the cracks. His practice-talent is off the charts.
- Slammin’ Sam — After blasting balls through faces and nets with Tacoma last year, Sam Adeniran is now one of those players who is getting time with both the first and second teams. His season has been quiet according to the boxscores, with just a goal and an assist. Worry not, Defiance fans — Slammin’ Sam is poised to burst on the scene soon. He is 8th in the league for xG, has taken 13 shots, and is a decent 11th for xG+xA. Everything that made him a replacement-level MLS talent or better last year is still there. Now he’s a winger, on the right mostly this year. That gives him more space to use his speed and his banging left-foot shot can still rip through nets and cause fear in defenders.
How to watch
Match date/kickoff time: Sunday, April 17, 3:00 PM PT
Venue: Starfire Stadium, Tukwila, Washington
Online Streaming: MLS NEXT Pro
Defiance Absences: Cody Baker (ankle), Achille Robin (adductor)
Whitecaps 2: Unknown