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Defiance drop points twice in one night in shootout loss to North Texas

Ocampo-Chavez is on fire; shootouts are very stressful.

Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez in Defiance black celebrates his goal. Framing him are two North Texas players disappointed in themselves and the team.
AOC is on fire with 3 goals in two games.
Charis Wilson courtesy of Seattle Sounders and Tacoma Defiance

TUKWILA, Wash. — Tacoma Defiance are still undefeated on the season. Saturday night’s shootout loss goes in the record books as a draw. Tied 1-1 at the end of regulation North Texas SC pulled off the bonus-point shootout win, converting six of their seven attempts. The 6-5 penalty win dampened the spirits of a team that played well enough for the draw that the rest of global soccer recognizes. NTX is a preseason favorite to win the West with some thinking Defiance, St. Louis, and Monarchs might be able to compete.

At Starfire last night, Defiance held their own against a side that has produced a handful of United States national team players.

Three Things I Liked

Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez looks dominant at this level

Whereas in the win over the Monarchs Ocampo-Chavez was a low-touch forward who just needed to hover around the box, against North Texas he was expected to defend. Postmatch, head coach Wade Webber pointed out that Fonz started with a defensive role trying to shade the NTX 6. When that wasn’t working they shifted his role and Defiance was able to permit possession by NTX CBs, but basically stifled their ability to attack. If these two matches are any indication, AOC may have more untapped potential than he had been given credit for. Development is not linear, and a player that young can leap forward in an environment that previously looked like failure.

Oh, AOC scored another goal. He now has 3 on the young season, the only player to have more than 2 when Sunday’s matches kicked off.

Marlon Vargas is the next 8

To my eyes, Defiance were in a 4-flat 3-3 for most of the match. That meant that all three midfielders (Juan Alvarez, Marlon Vargas, Danny Leyva) were expected to attack and defend equally. They also had plenty of freedom to move around. Vargas took the biggest advantage of that, almost acting like a free-8 for much of the match. His defense was solid, and Webber called his performance the most complete of the players on the night (goalkeeper Wyatt Nelson was second). Marlon’s transition from all-attack winger to false-9 to free-8 shows a great maturity in the 21-year-old El Salvador internatioanl. For an org that seems to keep putting out 6/8 hybrids he may just be next.

He’s also the next leader

Vargas was once one of the youngest players in the org, still just 21 he is simultaneously a seasoned veteran entering his fifth pro season and still a youngster. Asked who he looks to as a guide for his new role, Vargas told Sounder at Heart:

“Tom Brewitt, Taylor Mueller — who retired — Christian Herrera with Colorado Springs Switchbacks — I learned from them. For players we have now, Randy Mendoza is a true leader and as you can see a warrior. I just try to implement from them with the young guys so that when they drop down they can lead as well.”

Also, he paneka’d the penalty.

“The goalkeeper was chirping a little bit so I set him up. He’s a good keeper, but if they’re going to talk, I got do what I can to keep them quiet.”

Randy Mendoza’s ability to attack

Last season, Mendoza was at his best when he was sitting back and being the USL Championship version of Nouhou. Saturday night he was frequently higher than the midfield three, entering the attack looking to cross and interplay with Reed Baker-Whiting (who in the second straight week was the first name outside of my The Defiant polling). He’s 5th on the squad for xG+xA, 6th in Goals Added, and 4th for Interrupting among players with a 100+ minutes.

I repeat myself — development is not linear.

Two Concerns I Have

Shootouts are too stressful

It’s a shame that Wyatt Nelson’s night will get remembered for only stopping one of seven kicks from the spot. Nelson was strong throughout the day with a few good to great stops and distribution that looked comfortable, especially considering that he’s not a pro yet.

But, this league wanted the drama of shootouts, so that’s what we got — the dumb stressful situation of regular season matchday two feeling like a failure because a well played draw sits in our heads like a loss because North Texas made one more penalty over a stretch of seven attempts.

When the stadium announcer (‘sup Hugo) read out that the match wasn’t over fans were confused. They didn’t want the drama of a regular season shoootout.

Defiance need to put a team away

It should never have gotten to a shootout. Defiance were so close to scoring a second, including one moment when it took two North Texas players to keep Marlon Vargas off the scoreboard. The keeper blocked the shot but not enough to stop its momentum toward goal. An NTX centerback cleared it off the line while one Defiance player was out on the wing celebrating a near goal. While the xG was basically level for the two teams, Defiance had the opportunities to go up 2-1 and only a few weak moments on the right flank gave North Texas one of those unstoppable goals.

Check This Stat

Reed Baker-Whiting, who played as a winger, won 3 tackles and 7 duels. His was the best example of the defend-from-the-front attitude Webber’s gone with this year.

Highlights

You’ll have to watch them on the league website, they aren’t embeddable.

MATCH SUMMARY

Tacoma Defiance 1 (5) – North Texas SC 1 (6)

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Venue: Starfire Stadium

Referee: Christopher Calderon

Weather: 54 and partly cloudy

SCORING SUMMARY

TAC – Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (Marlon Vargas) 27’

NTX – Bernard Kamungo (Hope Avayevu) 70’

SHOOTOUT SUMMARY

TAC – Sam Adeniran (saved)

NTX – Derek Waldeck (scored)

TAC – Marlon Vargas (scored)

NTX – Blake Pope (saved)

TAC – Danny Leyva (scored)

NTX – Collin Smith (scored)

TAC – Dylan Teves (scored)

NTX – Luis Miguel Cardoso Santos (scored)

TAC – Randy Mendoza (scored)

NTX – Bernard Kamungo (scored)

TAC – Hal Uderitz (scored)

NTX – Lucas Barlett (scored)

TAC – Sota Kitahara (missed)

NTX – Isaiah Paker (scored)

MISCONDUCT SUMMARY

TAC – Randy Mendoza (caution) 89’

LINEUPS & STATS

Tacoma Defiance – Wyatt Nelson, Dylan Teves, Hal Uderitz, Eric Kinzner, Randy Mendoza, Marlon Vargas, Danny Leyva, Sam Adeniran, Juan Alvarez (Sota Kitahara 66’), Reed Baker-Whiting (Valentin Sabella 76’), Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez (Travian Sousa 88’)

Substitutes not used: Wallis Lapsley, Achille Robin

Total shots: 14

Shots on goal: 6

Fouls: 14

Offside: 1

Corner-kicks: 4

Saves: 6

North Texas SC – Antonio Carrera, Blake Pope, Lucas Bartlett, Chase Niece (Paul Bello Amedume 76’), Isaiah Parker, Blaine Ferri (Tarik Scott 66’), Derek Waleck, Santiago Ferreira, Pablo Torre (Collin Smith 66’), Hope Avayevu (Luis Migues Cardoso Santos 81’), Bernard Kamungo

Substitutes not used: Seth Wilson, Paul Bello Amedume, Tómas Lacerda

Total shots: 15

Shots on goal: 7

Fouls: 8

Offside: 0

Corner-kicks: 0

Saves: 4

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