Tacoma Defiance players are mostly separated – staying home, staying healthy. A few of the Men in Black share apartments. Usually those from out of town. Azriel Gonzalez, who used to be part of the homestay program, now gets to enjoy home cooking from his mom. What he doesn’t get is the interaction with teammates, except through technology.
The team hosts video conference calls to manage fitness, talk tactics, and even to bond a bit over rousing rounds of Zoom trivia.
Gonzalez, nearly 19, is also using technology in other ways.
“I’m playing a lot of video games. When I’m done with training I’ll pop on the PS4 and start playing Call of Duty. I like FIFA too, but it gets kind of boring after a while. With Call of Duty there’s a lot more to do.”
Call of Duty also gives him the opportunity to stay in touch with friends and family back in Las Vegas. Azriel moved to the Puget Sound four years ago to pursue his soccer career.
“I play with family, my cousins, and my old teammates back in Las Vegas. Trying to keep in touch with them. There’s only so much you can do with this stuff.”
This stuff being the situation we’re all in regarding COVID-19. That has inspired Gonzalez to keep in better touch with his family in Mexico too.
“There’s some positives in this. These are hard times, but these are also good times to reconnect with family. For example, I have family in Mexico and we didn’t get to talk as much. Now, it’s a good time to connect.”
He keeps in touch with his Defiance teammates through Snapchat, following with those who share apartments, as they get to do some of the soccer skills training together. He and midfielder Danny Robles talk almost every day.
Gonzalez is still a pro soccer player, even with coronavirus causing a suspension of training and games at the USL Championship level. That means getting in lots of cardio, both distance and intermittent training, so that his speed will be there when the season returns. It also means following a training regimen dribbling a ball against a wall to get in touches or framing the ball with each foot to maintain his superior technical skills.
Finishing? That will come later. At this time, it’s more target practice, as he doesn’t share a home with a keeper.
Every day presents opportunity to train. He’ll switch up the drills for variety, to keep himself sharp.
Almost every day there’s video games to connect with teammates, friends, and family in Washington, Nevada, and Mexico.
Every day there’s his family at home, staying healthy, together.
Staying Home Picks
TV Show: Money Heist
Video Games: Call of Duty, EA FIFA 20
Music: Tory Lanez
Food: Mom’s Tacos
Read about what the players, coaches, and staff at Cheney Stadium are doing while they Stay Home, Stay Healthy.
About Tacoma Defiance
Tacoma Defiance is the USL Championship affiliate of reigning MLS Cup Champion Seattle Sounders FC. You can follow The Future of Champions on Twitter (@TACDefiance), Facebook, and Instagram (@tacdefiance). We are #DefiantlyTacoma.
Tacoma Team Store
More information on social distancing and how to prevent the spread of Covid-19 can be found at Tacoma-Pierce County Health. The most up-to-date information on how COVID-19 is affecting events at Cheney Stadium can be found here.