As a player gains familiarity with a level of play, the game slows down. It gets easier. Watch an expert at Fortnite, Call of Duty, Rocket League, or soccer play and the point where their expertise is on display becomes obvious.
When they are ready, they are ready. During these displays of dominance, it becomes clear that the server or field they are on is no longer a contest. Rising to the top of the leaderboard, the dominant player instinctively seeks to find new challenges and level of play.
With experience under his belt, Alec Diaz now seeks a new level of play. Over the past two-and-a-half seasons Diaz has dominated the Academy level, averaging just under a goal a game in 58 appearances. Those 54 goals are not translating to the USL Championship level, yet.
His next step is to sharpen the mental side of his game. From there, the speed of his play can only improve.
“You have to think faster, to know what you are going to do when you get the ball because it’s not like the Academy where you can take a couple touches to think about it. If you take those touches here, you are not going to have the ball anymore. You have to know that it’s going to be a lot faster and you have to think faster.”
Thought must become instinct.
With Defiance, Diaz slips around defenders, using quick jab steps to find openings. His ability to find pockets of space in a packed 18-yard-box is his specialty. This gives him the opportunity to pounce on rebounds and loose balls. Alec can be a good hold up player looking to drop the pass back and then lunge forward for a quick return ball. On set-pieces the 17-year-old will be one of the primary targets for a header.
Here’s his game-winner on opening night.
That goal shows Diaz’ potential to fit into the USL level. His thought process was quick enough it may be unfair to call it thought. That fleet footed response to a deflected ball in the box was the instinct of a pure goal scorer.
Willing to pursue longballs up the field, Diaz will put enough pressure on the opposition to ensure they are uncomfortable in their passing lanes. As a center forward, his role is more as nuisance than as a ball-winner. His efforts will not waiver.
Broad shouldered and hard to knock off the ball, Diaz has a quick first step to open space. His aerial ability should improve as he continues to grow. Alec’s keys to making improvements in 2020 factor less about his physical presence and more about shortening time from thought to instinct.
8 starts | 8 sub appearances | 747 minutes | 1 goals | 1 assist | 7 shots | 3 key passes
Off the Pitch
Whether it’s climbing into a bubble for bubble soccer or giving out soccer balls at a RAVE Foundation futsal field opening, Diaz was always willing to share time and a smile with the youth of Tacoma. Alec knows the fields of Puget Sound, earning his way from PacNW to Sounders Academy to Defiance. He shares stories of his journey from the fields of King and Pierce Counties with kids who will follow his path.
Looking to 2020
Alec is ready to advance along his development pathway as he levels up. There’s little more to learn with the Academy. Effort and motivation will lift him in his next phase.
“I’ve been the kind of person that when faced with adversity, I try harder. It motivates me to do better. Hopefully, that’s what I’m going to do here. I’m going to take the next step.”
As the only forward on the Defiance roster, Diaz will have plenty of opportunities to do so. It’s time for him to grow, take his extraordinary success from the fields of the Development Academy into the USL Championship and the pitches around Concacaf as part of Puerto Rico’s senior national team.
For more on Alec Diaz and your 2020 Tacoma Defiance roster: