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Defiance Notebook: The path unconventional

Strained with top talents called to the Sounders, Wade Webber’s team wins in a shootout against Loons 2 and loses to Whitecaps 2.

Defiance F/CB Gio Miglietti dribbles against Whitecaps 2
Courtesy of Vancouver Whitecaps FC

While the Seattle Sounders were busy playing double-game weeks and calling up the best Defiance players, Tacoma had two games of its own. At home against Minnesota United 2 Wade Webber’s side managed to go up 1-0, fell down 3-1, came back to lead 4-3 and then gave up the tying goal at the death. They did win the shootout, thanks to Andrew Thomas saving one and forcing another shot high — and because mostly defenders took the kicks from the spot.

On the road at Vancouver Whitecaps 2, in a slow and sloppy Swangard Stadium, Defiance struggled to look effective. Trotting out a 3-4-2-1 with Reed Baker-Whiting at LWB and Antonio Herrera at RWB the side looked unfamiliar with the positioning needed in the new formation with five players in roles of differing familiarity. It was only a 1-0 loss, most notable for being a slog.

The Fifth Member of the Party

Gio Miglietti’s professional journey included him converting from an attacking mid to a double-pivot with Dylan Teves when S2 opened their 2018 season at Cheney Stadium. His defense against pros while a mere teenager was a bit lacking, but the Gio-Dylan pivot did show that they could maintain a tempo.

At UW, Gio spent most of his time as an attacking mid, sometimes moving back to DM. In his final season he played almost every match as a centerback. So what’s his role with Defiance now, five years after he first played against pros?

Mostly as a bench forward capable of changing games.

Miglietti has thrived in that role, scoring twice and assisting twice. His four combined goals and assists tie him with Hal Uderitz, behind Paul Rothrock and Braudilio Rodrigues. Unlike those other men, Gio has only one start. His xG+xA/90 is a stunning 0.96. That’s about 40% higher than the next highest player likely to play on Friday night (Starfire, 7 pm PT, MLS Season Pass).

What’s the secret to playing whatever role he’s asked? It’s not just his want-it meter. He’s got the soccer brains that coaches just love. They know his frame and mind combo can help them win games. Where Brad Evans was the SOG, capable of switching roles in a game Miglietti is the fifth member of the party ready to take on the supporting secondary role at any time. He’s not the fighter, the wizard, the cleric or the rogue. Gio is the team bard.

Also, his want-it meter leads to great execution.

Possible first-teamers

Players who could get called up to an Open Cup match or in case of injury.

  1. Right back Cody Baker — He signed and continues to play left back for the Seattle Sounders.
  2. Right winger Paul ‘Future President’ Rothrock — Rothrock is now out of the ability to be called up via short-term agreements. He scored three times in his only three appearances with the first team. He’ll be back with Defiance for Friday night’s match against LAFCII unless the Sounders need a goal on Saturday night. He has four goals and five assists in all competitions, still leading MLS Next Pro in assists with those five.
  3. Centerback Hal Uderitz — One of the leaders of this team, Uderitz continues to show stable performances with solid if unspectacular positioning who is a solid passer. He’s still tied third for goals with 4, two from the spot and two from corners. Any MLS team that wants a 4th CB who is a high floor, low ceiling guy should sign Hal.

Start watching: CAM-turned-right back Antonio Herrera has two starts at right back and at right wingback. Herrera surges forward well and his defense didn’t seem to be exploited too much.


Tacoma Defiance 0 – Whitecaps FC 2 1

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Venue: Swangard Stadium
Referee: Mazen Hassanin
Assistants: Sebastian Ritchers, Chris Harrop
Fourth official: Amer Ramic
Weather: 64 degrees and mostly cloudy


VAN – Kamron Habibullah (Giovanni Aguillar) 57’


TAC – Frank Daroma (caution) 80’

TAC – Eythor Bjørgolfsson (caution) 85’


Tacoma Defiance – Andrew Thomas; Hal Uderitz, Stuart Hawkins (Eythor Bjørgolfsson, 66’), Abdoulaye Cissoko; Antonio Herrera (Sebastian Gomez, 81’), Fito Ovalle – captain (Blake Bowen, 66’), Sota Kitahara, Reed Baker-Whiting (Travian Sousa, HT); Frank Daroma, Gio Miglietti (Georgi Minoungou, 66’), Braudilio Rodrigues

Substitutes not used: Jacob Castro, Wallis Lapsley, Christopher Aquino

Total shots: 7
Shots on goal: 3
Fouls: 9
Offside: 1
Corner-kicks: 1
Saves: 3

Whitecaps FC 2 – Isaac Boehmer; Elage Bah, Joshué Ndakala, Matteo Campagna, Mihail Gherasimencov (Christian Greco-Taylor, 86’); Kamron Habibullah (Malcolm Johnston, 90’), Vasco Fry, Giovanni Aguillar, Levonte Johnson; Gloire Amanda (Joe Hanson, 63’), Jean-Claude Ngando

Substitutes not used: Max Anchor, Simone Masi, Sydney Wathuta, Joven Mann

Total shots: 12
Shots on goal: 4
Fouls: 14
Offside: 1
Corner-kicks: 8
Saves: 3

Next match: LAFCII come to Starfire Stadium for the first time on Friday night (7 pm PT, MLS Season Pass - paid). No longer with the hybrid relationship at Las Vegas, LA2 is young and not yet proving that they are a pipeline to the first team.

Ladje Malle is their best player, an attacker who should be expected to be involved in a goal, somehow. But LAFCII is bad and that will probably be their own goal. Their record is 1-4-3, -4 at the bottom of the West. Defiance are 4-2-2, +7 with two shootout wins good for second in the Pacific, and eighth overall.

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