Ignore that 4-0 result from the beginning of the season. Real Monarchs aren’t that bad. Tacoma Defiance aren’t that good. Plus, in MLS Next Pro rosters aren’t consistent enough for past results to be too predictive. Players from MLS squads play down; Academy players play up; just a few players are the mainstays on a Next Pro roster.
Both sides in Sunday’s match were expected to be conference leaders due to their continuity from years previous. Where MLS is a league of parity, Next Pro is a league of mayhem. Predictions are foolish. Only the ball, the referee, and a few dozen fields matter.
One of the glories of this Sunday night futbol match is that both teams have unique identities. Both have some history, which Monarchs have dominated. Both have first teams that honor and lift their successful players to play either in MLS or to solid contracts elsewhere.
Real Monarchs are struggling in 2022, but don’t count on that lasting. Defiance are within striking distance of the playoff line, and that should last.
Why you should watch
- AOC — The April Player of the Month is having one of those resurgent seasons that is quite rare on a developmental squad. Typically when a player stalls out they are cast aside and when they find success it is with a new team. Ocampo-Chavez isn’t just surging, he’s succeeding and doing so because he’s exactly what Defiance needs. Now back in the First Team plan, Fonz may not be long for Defiance, but he may just win a Golden Boot on his way out.
- Fito Ovalle — Formerly an RSL and Monarchs player, Fito is now a stalwart in Webber’s lineups for Defiance. The veteran has been around the world playing soccer and helps the younger players with their professionalism. He’s also the closest thing to a pure 6 on the squad. Look for a bit of vengeance when he plays against his old org.
- Academy playing up — Most of the Academy is off at a tournament called “MLS Next Flex,” but a few stayed with Defiance. This will be the first chance to see a couple of the GA Cup winners play against professionals.
How to watch
Match date/kickoff time: Sunday, May 15, 7:00 PM PT
Venue: Starfire Stadium, Tukwila
Online Streaming: MLS NEXT Pro
Defiance Absences: Cody Baker (ankle)
Monarchs Absences: Unknown