There’s a sweet comfort about returning to Cheney Stadium. The Fire Place, R Bar, Mt. Rainier over the shoulder, a supporters section with black smoke, the people of Tacoma… all of it. It’s awesome for Tacoma Defiance to be home again.
Adorned in neon, the bright Lights of Las Vegas come to Tacoma on a night when the men in black are celebrating Pride of Defiance. The colorful matchup is almost certain to feature fireworks, as the two sides have 13 combined goals scored in their previous three meetings.
Last time Tacoma Defiance hosted Las Vegas Lights FC the men in black won 3-0. Vegas won this year’s first meeting 5-0.
Coached by American soccer legend Eric Wynalda, Las Vegas adheres to his philosophies – free flowing, individual empowerment and discovering the undiscovered talents throughout the United States. An example of their pursuit of unknown talent is their signing of former Sounders Academy player Victor Rojas who plied his trade since leaving the Academy at an indoor club in Florida and lower division teams in Mexico.
Defiance Coach Chris Little knows that Lights FC’s road record (1-6-1, -14) is not an indicator of their quality.
“They’re an interesting team. They can open up at times and score a lot of goals. They have dynamic players going forward. Their results have been up-and-down. We know we have to play well. We have to impose ourselves on them.”
Tacoma is seeking to make up for their performance on the road at Vegas’ Cashman Field earlier this year.
When Defiance travelled to Las Vegas things started strong and then got away from them.
“That was an unusual game. We had a couple of chances to score first, didn’t. Then we conceded a goal against the run of play, and there was a penalty decision that changed the game. I think this is a game that as players they should have a taste in their mouth with an extra point to prove. That game, the scoreline was not reflective of what that game should be.”
Midfielder Jesse Daley saw two yellow cards in that match, leaving the field in the 63rd minute. The Australian wants to correct the result and looks forward to the open play that both teams enjoy.
“We were really disappointed at their home ground. I think it’s a good opportunity to get back on track. The high-tempo games are what we want. We want to play on our terms.”
Expect Tacoma to start on the front foot. Winger Shandon Hopeau thinks Defiance can impose their will on a Vegas team that gives up goals on the road.
“I want to start off strong. We’ve been letting in easy goals in the start of games. We’ve been trying to chase back into the game. We need to clean that up a bit and start strong and get the first goal.”
Las Vegas Lights FC notes
- Former S2 player Irvin Parra is balling in his first season with Vegas. His 9 goals lead the team. Parra also has 3 assists.
- Former Sounder Sammy Ochoa recently returned from injury. Ochoa has 2 goals and 2 assists in his second season with Lights FC.
- Former Sounders Academy player Victor Rojas is a regular in Eric Wynalda’s matchday 18. His only goal with Las Vegas came during the U.S. Open Cup.
- Their preview.
Tacoma Defiance notes
- First 500 fans at the gates will receive a #DefiantlyTacoma Pride koozie.
- 53 days between home games.
- It’s awesome to be back at Cheney
- Tacoma Defiance entered a standard loan agreement with Justin Dhillon. He is available for selection for the matchday 18.
MultiCare Pre-Match Health Report
Tacoma – Azriel Gonzalez is out (left foot fracture).
Lights – Mobi Fehr is questionable (lower body injury); Bryan de la Fuente is out (lower body injury).
How to Watch
Stadium: Cheney Stadium, Tacoma
Kickoff Time: Wednesday, July 24 (7:00 p.m.)
Home: Tacoma Defiance (2-12-5, -35)
Away: Las Vegas Lights FC (6-7-5, +0)
Next home match is our Pride match on July 24 versus Las Vegas Lights FC (7:00 p.m. / Party Deck tickets available)