Heroic Sidekick – Marlon Vargas

In 2019, the Bakersfield-raised winger started to show signs he was ready to be the star of his own film.

He is always there. Whenever needed, the heroic sidekick is around. He is versatile, able to feature in a specific encounter, and dart in then out of the spotlight when called upon. The greatest sidekick, the one who patiently awaits his defining moment, eventually gets his own story.

Marlon Vargas has been the trusty sidekick since signing in 2018, and he’s ready to move into a leading role in 2020.

Last season, he was in the Tacoma Defiance matchday 18 for every match. He started 13 times, appeared in 11 other games, and was available for action in 10, lurking in the shadows in case his team called upon him to help conquer the opposition. With 2 goals and 2 assists in 1,292 minutes, the winger showed his ability to contribute directly to wins (both goals were game-winners).

His contributions run even deeper, though. Vargas does everything to support his squad of heroes. In lieu of personal glory, Marlon’s efforts to advance the ball show up in subtle ways. He slips in the pass before the pass, clogs the lane, and elevates the play of others.



Vargas is a slick passer who breaks the line before the line, giving way for his companions who boast bigger shields. Decisive passes that create opportunity are more difficult. The aggressive stance of a supporting staff-member means that the stars of the show have the opportunity to shine.

Marlon’s role is aspirational. He is a helper. That dedication to his squad is reflected in their joy surrounding his successes.

Every success for the big names is a success for Marlon too. Like Tolkien’s Sam Gamgee, Vargas focuses on his friends and their completion of the mission. If necessary, he will carry them. When needed, he will fill in gaps. Able to play on the left and right wings, as well as the central attacking midfielder, Marlon’s versatility is vital to the success of Defiance and enables other well-known Tacoma heroes to thrive.

In the final match of the year, a 3-1 win over Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, Vargas avoided taking credit for his strong performance which yielded a goal and an assist. He instead focused on the team.

“I helped my teammates get a win. That’s all we were worried about tonight.”



There’s something to be said for playing with urgency while being able to read the game well. A smart player who never quits will always be able to contribute on the defensive side of the ball. Marlon Vargas isn’t often in a position to tackle or initiate duels. Instead, his nearly precognitive ability to see passing lanes helped to be the second-best ball-intercepting winger on Defiance in 2019. The only attacking player with more was Shandon Hopeau with 16, in almost 800 more minutes played.

Vargas says that the coaches tasked him with learning from Hopeau.

“We always talk about Hopeau in the unit meetings. We talk about the way he developed defending-wise.”

With Vargas as the protégé to Hopeau’s heroics, the sign that Vargas may become a hero of his own is readily apparent.



With a small frame and a big heart, Marlon finds way to overcome perceived disadvantages. During set pieces, opposing teams often lose track of the slippery star. It’s how he scored his first goal. With a low center of gravity and great balance, the fleet-footed midfielder avoids tackles well. His dexterity helps him stand out on the pitch, especially when bodies are sliding along the grass.


2019 Stats

13 starts | 11 sub appearances | 1,292 minutes | 2 goals | 2 assists | 9 shots | 16 key passes


Off the Pitch

You can find Marlon Vargas wandering the streets of downtown Tacoma after he entertains young kids at the Children’s Museum of Tacoma. Like modern superheroes, he isn’t concerned about being in disguise, instead proudly wearing his jersey as he explores the city and helps kids.

He also joined the team as they handed out soccer and futsal balls to the youth of Burien and SeaTac at RAVE Foundation’s opening of the Valley Ridge Playfield mini-pitch.


Looking to 2020

As we explore the Western Conference this season, Marlon will be a key member of the team of heroes. He turns 19 on January 12 and enters his third year in a professional league. After dominating with the Sounders U-19s, his time in Tacoma should be his only focus.

Being able to dedicate himself to his calling should yield improvements in what Vargas does best – supporting others in their time of need. Expect assist totals, key passes, and completion percentage in the oppositions’ half to all go up in 2020.


Defiantly Tacoma

For more on Marlon Vargas and your 2020 Tacoma Defiance roster:

The 2020 schedule is out – Mapping Defiance: Tacoma’s 2020 Campaign.

Single match tickets are now available. Wave the flag for our defiant crew on opening night or join us for the full season as our players explore the region and test their mettle. Check out our Season Tickets options.