Cities on the rise often fail to take a leap forward – they grind through small processes, results can be slow. And yet, over a period of time, people can look back and see those moments when a city, or a team, take a significant step towards the greater goal. Tacoma Defiance are taking those steps forward. With back-to-back road draws and a defense taking shape, the grind is refining rough stone into gems.
Are the cut stones now tough enough to face one of the hottest teams in the league?
Defiance will answer that with their road match on Friday night. The 7:00 p.m. match on ESPN3 is against one of the hottest teams in the USL Championship. Real Monarchs SLC won their last four and are 7-6-3, +3 on the season. Defiance drew their last two road matches and are now 2-11-5, -30. Monarchs are part of the Real Salt Lake organization, playing their home matches at Zions Bank Park in Herriman, Utah.
But Real Monarchs do not dedicate themselves to the youth movement quite like Tacoma Defiance.
“They do it differently than us,” Coach Chris Little said. “The players signed to the Monarchs-there are very few under-20 players. A lot of their players are 22 years old. That’s a different model.”
Facing a team in form, Defiance will need to have the resilient defense that has become their recent signature.
No longer leaking goals, Tacoma is riding a defense that is stout, prepared, and proof that sticking to a system and players can be rewarding.
“We had a new back four to start the season. Players that were coming in that hadn’t played in certain positions before, centerbacks that hadn’t played with each other before, centerbacks that were new to the USL. It’s taken a bit of time and understanding our system.”
Now with a core of players who know each other’s techniques and the organizational philosophy, there is confidence in their own toughness. Captain Sam Rogers also credits an upgrade in focus.
“We reached a point in the season where we need to stop bleeding goals. There is a different intensity that we have and different focal points that have helped feed to that.”
Defense is not just about the back four. Coach Little likes the improvement he’s seen in the goalkeeping group and frequent starter Trey Muse.
“The goalkeeper is getting more confident and is starting to play really well. It’s been a combination of a few things. We’re showing now that we are resolute and we can be tough to play against. A lot of that is down to the defending of the team.”
That defense is also capable of getting forward. Even the centerbacks will enter the attack when opportunity opens. That changes the angles and spaces that Real Monarchs will need to defend. Defiance expect their ten outfield players to be capable of spreading the ball around and to enter the attack.
For Captain Sam Rogers that’s just part of this young squad embracing modern soccer.
“The sport is changing a bit, every position is required to be good with their feet.”
Real Monarchs SLC Notes
- Monarchs only have one shutout in their last 12 matches. They’ve given up 27 goals in that stretch.
- Douglas Martinez has 6 goals and 6 assists on the season.
- Former RSL great Jamison Olave is the interim head coach for Real Monarchs.
- Their preview.
Tacoma Defiance Notes
- Defiance earned points in five of their last seven played, including their last two road matches.
- Jesse Daley is out with yellow card accumulation.
- Against Rio Grande Valley FC Tacoma controlled the tempo of the match, rather than their speedy tempo that has them 5th in the West for total passes.
MultiCare Pre-Match Health Report
Tacoma – Azriel Gonzalez is out (left foot fracture).
Real Monarchs – Ricardo Ávila is out.
How to Watch
Stadium: Zions Bank Stadium, Herriman, Utah
Kickoff Time: Friday, July 12 (7:00 p.m.)
Away: Tacoma Defiance (2-11-5, -30)
Home: Real Monarchs SLC (7-6-3, +3)
Next home match is our Pride match on July 24 versus Las Vegas Lights FC (7:00 p.m. / Party Deck tickets available)