All the way back on March 6, Chris Hegardt opened the USL Championship’s 2020 season with a stunning strike at Cheney Stadium. It hit the back of the net sending thousands of flag-waving fans into a frenzy.
Since then the season, and all of reality, has taken a few detours. Defiance played a match in an empty stadium on March 11, the last USL game for a few months as the Covid-19 pandemic forced stadium closures around the United States and the World.
In June, Tacoma Defiance and USL retook the pitch. Defiance burst forth going undefeated in three, including an epic road comeback 3-3 draw against Sacramento Republic FC and two blowout wins over Portland Timbers 2 FC. A losing streak slowed the playoff chase down, but Tacoma does not quit – never has, never will, because we are always together.
Who Are Those New Faces?
With three players signed to the First Team in 2020 there is more opportunity for Defiance players to follow in the footsteps of former Defiance standouts Justin Dhillon and Shandon Hopeau.
Signing to fill in some of those needs are Tacoma-resident centerback Eric Kinzner, central midfielder Reed Baker-Whiting, and fullback Alex Villanueva. All three are stars from the Sounders Academy with trophies under their belt.
They are the next wave. The Future of an organization that wins trophies and continues to define North American soccer. Baker-Whiting has 48 minutes played in three matches, with Villanueva earning a 30-minute appearance just after signing.
How Is the Playoff Hunt Going?
Defiance play in Group A, as the USL Championship put together a plan with 16 matches in regional groups to help prevent the spread of novel coronavirus.
|Reno 1868 FC||21||7||11|
|Sacramento Republic FC||17||5||5|
|Portland Timbers 2 FC||0||0||-21|
- Sorted by USL tiebreakers for 2020.
Timbers 2 are completely defeated. Defiance sit on 7 points in 8 matches played. That means Group A is a two-team race. Reno and Sacramento look like powerhouses right now, making Defiance’s tight performances versus each even more impressive.
With Playoffs Likely Out of Reach What Should I Watch For?
Forward Alec Diaz made the USL Championship Team of the Week in week 3 and week 7. The emerging star scored the second-fastest goal in Defiance history and was up for Goal of the Week earlier this season. Midfielder Danny Robles is coming into his own, playing multiple roles this season, and he made the Team of the Week bench once.
On-loan keeper Christian Herrera was up for Save of the Week once already and has already earned an extension on his loan from Oakland Roots of the NISA.
Defiance keep fighting and they also keep scoring. They have not been shutout since September 10 of last year. The offense is varied, with 14 different players scoring or assisting in 2020.
How Can I Catch All This Tacoma Defiance Action?
So far 16 USL Championship matches have been on ESPN2 or ESPN Deportes, offering Defiance and USL fans the opportunity to experience the league on traditional television in addition to every match being on ESPN+. Keep track of when USL Championship matches are on ESPN TV networks at USLChampionship.com and via Tacoma Defiance social media.
Defiance return to Cheney Stadium against Portland Timbers 2 on September 27 at 1:30 p.m. to start a streak of three home matches to end the 2020 season. At this time Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department and Washington State Department of Health regulations do not permit fans to attend matches.
Keep It Defiant, Tacoma.