Sitting at 15th of 18 after seven matches wasn’t a part of the plan. Sometimes meeting high and self-appointed expectations takes time. Prior to the season, Seattle Sounders FC President of Soccer Garth Lagerwey declared that Tacoma Defiance would compete for a USL Championship Western Conference playoff spot. That means finishing in the top 10 in the West. Lagerwey isn’t willing to accept the early results as indicative of season long issues.
“We can’t accept losing; we can’t accept mediocrity; we have to be competitive in every game,” Lagerwey told Sports Radio KJR’s Sounders Weekly during their regular Ask Garth segment. Lagerwey indicated that the roster succeeding at the GA Cup detracted a bit from the Defiance roster last week and this week.
“One, is that for the games this [last] week we were severely depleted because we had all our best kids play in the GA Cup. I think that paid dividends. We have to balance those things. We have to balance how we view those results.”
Those roster limitations aren’t set forward as an excuse. Garth is confident that Tacoma Defiance is better than the early season results.
“[W]e can’t be losing every game by three goals. So, once we get our guys back and get a little more stable structure there, hopefully that’s something we can build on and improve. We can’t accept losing; we can’t accept mediocrity; we have to be competitive in every game. The team has to be disciplined and it has to be structured. The talent level is increasing year over year. I think we are capable of better than we’ve shown so far at Defiance.”
Lagerwey is confident that results will improve. He sees talent among the 19 signed players and expects some to follow in Danny Leyva’s steps.
“There are a bunch of kids down there competing for contracts. I’ve said publicly we have open roster spots in the First Team and we are going to sign kids that we think are worthy. If those kids are out there competing and we can get to a point where we start winning games then I think there are spots on the First Team waiting for them. Hopefully that’s a motivating factor for them as they move forward playing for Defiance and we can start turning it around a bit results-wise. This week, I worry about it a little bit less because we have so many guys missing.”
Each week Lagerwey also profiles a Tacoma Defiance player. This week it was GA Cup standout Danny Robles (1 start, 102 minutes with Defiance in 2019). Though Robles missed the quarterfinals victory he will be back for Thursday’s semifinal against West Ham United. Against opponents like West Ham, Robles can show US U-17 coach Raphaël Wicky his talent and ideally earn selection to this year’s U-17 World Cup in Brazil.
“Danny is a kid who is really good on the ball technically. He is at a position where it’s going to be tough to break through in the short term. He’s playing the same position as Nicolás Lodeiro. He’s got to continue to diversify his game. He’s got to continue to be sharper and continue to grow. He’s a kid with a ton of potential. He’s really, really good technically – picking out a pass. I’m excited to see him back on the field Thursday playing in the semifinal of the GA Cup and seeing what he can do. Definitely one of our top prospects with the opportunity – in the short term one of the challenges for him is can he be the #10 on the U-17 team that goes to the World Cup? He’s definitely in a half-dozen or so in our group that are in the mix for that Under-17 World Cup team. I think Danny’s got to assert himself and put himself in that mix.”
Next match at Phoenix Rising on April 20 at 7:30 p.m. (ESPN+)
Next home match versus Portland Timbers 2, a Day of Defiance, at Cheney Stadium on May 12 at 1:30 pm. (Tickets available here).