The Seattle Sounders won the 2019 MLS Cup behind Raúl Ruidíaz, Nicolás Lodeiro, Jordan Morris, Stefan Frei, and Gustav Svensson. Tacoma Defiance are bringing back their 2019 core. It is the core of the squad that went 5-3-1 at Cheney Stadium during the second half of last year, good for 11th best in the USL Championship during that stretch.
All five members of the leadership committee are among the group around which the 2020 roster will be built.
In 2019 three players took the giant step on their development path. Justin Dhillon, Danny Leyva, and Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez all started the year with Defiance and ended it with an MLS Cup. In 2020 they return, along with Homegrown Players Trey Muse and Handwalla Bwana. Those loanees to Defiance are part of Sounders FC’s youth movement and could play with both Sounders and Defiance.
At this time, twelve Defiance players are pursuing that same path. There is reason to think that a few will earn their chance in 2020. While the returning group is young, they are now veterans with half playing at least three pro seasons.
- The 12 players averaged over 2,200 professional minutes played. Players sticking with the organization combined for 274 of 374 available starts in 2019.
- Shandon Hopeau is the franchise leader in minutes played with 5,020. Sam Rogers and Nick Hinds are both in the top four for minutes played.
- Six of the returning players have 41 or more starts at the USL Championship level.
- Azriel Gonzalez, Shandon Hopeau, and Nick Hinds are in the top four for career assists with the club.
- Gonzalez and Hopeau are tied for third in goals produced (goals+assists) in team history.
- The group will average 19.7 years old on opening match. That’s older than 2019 average that included the loanees from Sounders FC.
- Forwards Shandon Hopeau and Azriel Gonzalez, as well as Defender Sam Rogers are entering their fourth professional seasons. All three signed directly to the USL squad from the Sounders Academy in 2017.
- Nine of the 12 players currently on the roster spent time in the Academy.
- Abdoulaye Cissoko joins Defiance after spending Fall 2019 with San Diego 1904 FC. The 19-year-old centerback previously played in France with Co Les Ulis and San Diego Zest of USL2.
- Antonee Burke-Gilroy, Jesse Daley, and Cissoko occupy three of the team’s seven international slots.
- Three Defiance players earned national team recognition in 2019. Alec Diaz made his first appearance with the full Puerto Rico National Team. Sam Rogers and Ray Serrano were called into U.S. Youth National team camps.
Sounders FC announced that their training camp will open on January 11, 2020. Many Tacoma players will be part of that camp as they prepare for the second season, writing their soccer stories in the black ink of Defiance.
Defenders (4): Antonee Burke-Gilroy, Abdoulaye Cissoko, Nick Hinds, Sam Rogers
Midfielders (3): Josh Atencio, Jesse Daley, Danny Robles
Forwards (5): Alec Diaz, Azriel Gonzalez, Shandon Hopeau, Ray Serrano, Marlon Vargas