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Welcome, Defiance!

The city of Tacoma embraces a new soccer team at Cheney Stadium

Soccer fans wave flags in support of Tacoma’s newest professional team. Photo credit: Tyler Wicke

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In call-and-response fashion, Cheney Stadium echoed: "TACOMA! DEFIANCE!"

Fans chanted for their hometown Defiance against their bitter rivals from Portland. Now the second season of professional soccer in Tacoma -- and the first full year -- Cheney now serves as a multi-sport complex since the January rebranding of the Seattle Sounders FC reserve team.

An attendee to Tacoma's match against Timbers 2 -- Portland's reserve team -- my first thought: weird. Not because the game was weird, or the stadium, or the fans -- but in my dozens of experiences at Cheney Stadium, this was the first time baseball ceased to exist.

In the act of conforming Cheney from a ballpark to a soccer field, one goal sits on the first base line, facing the other on the left field warning track. The infield, though covered with turf, remained visible. One reporter told me the pitching mound -- which employees remove before soccer matches -- sits in the parking lot.

Despite my previous experience with baseball in Tacoma, Cheney Stadium hosts a soccer match exceptionally well. The seats surround the southwest corner of the field, offering several vantage points where views are intimate and close to the action.

General section seats stretch to midfield, and grass seating sits field-level behind the south goal. With such a view, you'd expect to pay a fortune -- not in Tacoma. Try $7 for all grass seating, and no more than $27 for any seat in general sections. Compare price and field proximity to a Sounders game in Seattle, and the value is far superior.

During my mid-game stroll throughout the concourse, I spotted the Mary Bridge Children's Pavilion, situated behind the right field grass. Children enjoyed Cheney's new year-round playground. In the far corner of the facility, others played a game of whiffle ball on a regulation-sized field.

As for the match itself, I drew an early conclusion that the most dedicated Defiance fans stood behind the first base line. Even after a Portland goal, several continued to wave flags boasting Tacoma's area code, and one fan led chants with a drum. They were the heart and soul of the fan base, embracing the city's new football club.

The Defiance dropped the match 4-1 to Portland, despite a halftime score of 1-1. Timbers 2 raced to a quick second half lead, blowing the game out of reach.

But even with such a deficit, the chants persisted. Flags remained in the air, waving behind Tacoma's goal. The loyalty in the crowd resembled an established fanbase -- not one with a team that arrived just a year ago.

In regards to halftime entertainment, event staff delivered roses to fans at halftime to celebrate Mother's Day. For what it's worth, the Defiance mascot offered potatoes -- the reason why is beyond me.

And the food? Delicious as ever. My garlic fries and chicken strips perfectly complemented a beautiful day for soccer.

For the facilities, experience, and price, the Defiance match proved an excellent choice for entertainment, with a wide market ranging from dates to family outings. Faithful fans led chants, igniting the crowd. In-game action continued at a non-stop rate. And with matches scheduled through October, there's no reason not to enjoy Defiance soccer in their inaugural season.

TACOMA DEFIANCE, for tickets and schedule visit:

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