TACOMA, WASH. – Tacoma Defiance today announced that it has signed forward Eythor Bjørgolffson and defender Blake Bowen to MLS NEXT Pro contracts. Financial terms were not disclosed. The two sign with Tacoma after being drafted by Seattle in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft, bringing Defiance’s roster to 16 players ahead of its second MLS NEXT Pro season.
“Eythor and Blake have impressed our staff during their time in preseason,” said Vice President of Player Development Henry Brauner. “We are excited to continue their journey in the professional game with us. They have shown us that they are humble players but also remain focused on their development into the professional game, and we are confident that both will enhance the already demanding environment in Defiance.”
Bjørgolfsson, 22, the 38th overall pick by Seattle, scored 24 goals over four successful seasons at Kentucky, including 10 goals and two assists during his senior season where he was a MAC Hermann Tophy semifinalist, in addition to earning Sun Belt Conference First Team, United Soccer Coaches First Team All-American and United Soccer Coaches First Team All-Southeast Region honors. The Norwegian striker was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman team in 2019 after leading the Wildcats with four game-winning goals. As a junior in 2021, he scored the game-winning golden goal in the 93rd minute against Florida Atlantic to win Kentucky’s second-ever Conference USA Tournament title, earning Conference USA Tournament Offensive MVP and All-Tournament Team honors.
“Eythor is an exciting prospect, and we are delighted to add him to our roster for 2023,” said Head Coach Wade Webber. “He impressed during his time with the first team during preseason and it wasn’t hard to see why the club drafted him. He is more than just a big target striker. He is comfortable with both feet, possesses a clear eye for goal, is intelligent with his movement, is a willing worker defensively, threatens the space behind defenders and can be dominant in the air. Defiance have had success over the years in being a proving ground for strikers looking to break into a first team and we are confident Eythor has the mentality and ability to be the next to prove he is ready.”
Bowen, 22, the 59th overall pick by Seattle, recorded nine goals and five assists in 56 appearances (47 starts) over four seasons at San Diego State. He scored three goals (all game-winning strikes) and tallied two assists after starting all 16 of his appearances in his senior year, earning All-Pac-12 Second Team honors as well as being named to the United Soccer Coaches Third Team All-Far West Region. He was also an All-Pac-12 honorable mention as a sophomore and junior, leading the Aztecs with three goals in 2021 and being one of two SDSU players to start all 10 games during the pandemic-shortened 2020-2021 season. Prior to SDSU, Bowen recorded 34 goals and 21 assists over his career at San Clemente High School, earning Gatorade Player of the Year honors and leading his team to the CIF South Section championship.
“We are excited for Blake to commit to Defiance for 2023,” Webber said. “He attracted attention during first team preseason by being positionally versatile, athletic and technically sound. He is also a good presence in the locker room, and we have been impressed with his mentality and willingness to compete. We think he has the capacity to play several different positions professionally and are looking forward to helping him reach his potential over the coming months.”
The move brings Tacoma’s roster to 16 players as the club continues to prepare for the 2023 MLS NEXT Pro season.
TRANSACTION: Tacoma Defiance signs Eythor Bjørgolfsson and Blake Bowen to MLS NEXT Pro contracts on February 2, 2023.
Name: Eythor Bjørgolfsson
Pronunciation: EYE-tor B-your-golf-son
Born: August 25, 2000
Hometown: Jessheim, Norway
Name: Blake Bowen
Born: November 4, 2000 in Mission Viejo, California
Hometown: San Clemente, California
Citizenship: United States
College: San Diego State
CURRENT TACOMA DEFIANCE ROSTER
GOALKEEPERS (1): Wallis Lapsley
DEFENDERS (7): Cody Baker, Blake Bowen, Stuart Hawkins, Elias Katsaros, Gio Miglietti, Travian Sousa, Hal Uderitz
MIDFIELDERS (7): Juan Alvarez, Chris Aquino, Frank Daroma, Antonio Herrera, Georgi Minoungou, Fito Ovalle, Paul Rothrock
FORWARDS (1): Eythor Bjørgolfsson