Tacoma Defiance’s youth movement is strong. Six players represented youth national teams in camps and tournaments in 2019. Defiance talent powered the ground breaking GA Cup Champions Division win as well.
No two players represent the Sounders Development program better than Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez and Danny Leyva. The two are now Seattle Sounders, but without Tacoma their career advancement would have been slower. This season the USL Championship recognized Ocampo-Chavez (17th) and Leyva (8th) as two of the 20 Under 20 series.
They are the seventh and eighth Tacoma/S2 players to earn recognition as the best and brightest teenagers in the USL.
Ocampo-Chavez played his first minutes against professionals back in 2017. He was just 15. Now, in his first full season as a professional, ‘Fonz has over a thousand minutes of USL Championship action and nearly 100 minutes of MLS play.
Early this year he was part of that GA Cup championship side, taking the Golden Boot in that tournament. He’s been in both the U.S. U-17 and U.S. U-23 camps. There’s a chance that AOC heads to Tokyo for the Summer Olympics in 2020.
With Defiance, his goal-scoring prowess has come into form. He scored a brace against Las Vegas Lights FC and in three-straight matches as well. Alphonso’s also started learning to play on the wing, where his passes are deftly breaking lines. He has a dozen key passes and completes nearly 80% of his attempts in the attacking half.
Danny Leyva rocketed to prominence in the past year. In 2017 he moved to Seattle from Las Vegas to pursue his dream with the Sounders. He charged past the U-15 Academy level, into the U-17s, and then signed with Tacoma after just one appearance. After his performance in the Sounders friendly against Club Nacional, Leyva fast tracked to an MLS contract.
He now has over 1200 professional minutes with two-thirds of them coming at the USL Championship level. The deep-lying playmaker is a proficient passer who flings the ball via hook and slice, picking apart defenses. Of Defiance players with more than 300 passes on the season, he is the most accurate in the attacking third, completing 75% of his attempts.
Danny turned 16 during the Concacaf U-17 Championships. He helped the United States to a second place finish, qualifying for the World Cup (Oct. 26 to Nov. 17). Leyva’s importance to the USA was quickly apparent and he earned Best XI recognition, while also being one of the youngest players in the tournament.
In 2020, Sounders Head of Player Development Marc Nicholls expects Leyva to earn “30-to-40 professional matches between the USL Championship and Major League Soccer.”
He will already have conquered numerous youth tournaments. His next step is to conquer adult leagues. There’s little more that youth competitions can teach the now 16-year-old.
Since USL launched the 20 under 20 series Tacoma players Rodrigue Ele (19th in 2018), Sam Rogers (15th in 2018, 5th in 2017), Denso Ulysse (7th in 2018), Victor Mansaray (1st in 2016), and Mark O’Ojong (12th in 2016) all earned recognition.
Defiance have two more home matches in 2019. On October 12 we face Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC and on October 19 we host Austin Bold FC.