Press Release

Tacoma Defiance Signs Lars Helleren and Owen O'Malley

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TACOMA, WASH. – Tacoma Defiance today announced that it has signed goalkeeper Lars Helleren and defender Owen O’Malley. Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed. Helleren joins Sounders FC's MLS NEXT Pro side after leading Ballard FC to the 2023 USL League Two championship, while O’Malley comes to the club after playing with St. Louis CITY2 last year following collegiate career at Creighton. Defiance’s roster now sits at 18 players ahead of the 2024 MLSNP campaign, which begins on March 15.

“We are excited to be able to bring players like Lars and Owen into our Defiance group,” said Sounders FC Director of Development Wade Webber. “Lars, being local, is certainly someone we have kept track of over the years and we have been impressed by his steady growth and maturity as a goalkeeper. We expect that to continue under this coaching staff. His shot-stopping and handling are assets, he has demonstrated a good capacity to organize the players in front of him and his distribution is excellent. Owen is comfortably two-footed, aggressive, and brings a measure of assurance in possession, but with an eye for passes that account for gaps and lines not many others readily see. He has tremendous potential and we are delighted to have him.”

Helleren, 25, joins Defiance after most recently playing with MLS NEXT Pro side Colorado Rapids 2, making one start in 2023 MLSNP action. Before Colorado, the goalkeeper played for local USL League Two side Ballard FC, starting 14 matches and helping the side to a 2-1 victory in the championship match against Lionsbridge FC last year. Prior to his professional career, Helleren attended Seattle Pacific University, playing in 67 matches and amassing a 1.14 goals against average, earning a 2022 First Team All-Great Northwest Athletic Conference selection as well as being named a United Soccer Coaches Third Team All-American. The Edmonds, Washington native also played for local development club Crossfire Premier prior to SPU.

“I’m excited to have Lars and Owen within our system,” said Tacoma Defiance Head Coach Hervé Diese. “Both bring knowledge of the game from various levels, including high-pressure, playoff experiences that will do nothing but help our club in challenging moments. The team will only benefit from their skillsets and winning mentality.”

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O’Malley, 22, joins Tacoma after being selected ninth overall by St. Louis CITY SC in the 2023 MLS SuperDraft. He went on to make 14 appearances (seven starts) for St. Louis CITY2 last year, tallying 733 minutes. Prior to his time with St. Louis, O’Malley played for Creighton University, appearing in 52 matches (39 starts) from 2020-2022, helping the Bluejays make a run to the 2022 NCAA Division I Men’s Soccer Semifinals. He also tallied eight goals and five assists in 2022, earning a spot on the 2022 Big East All-Conference First Team. Before Creighton, the defender played for North Carolina FC Academy.

Defiance opens its third MLS NEXT Pro season on the road with a rematch of last year’s Western Conference Semifinals against Austin FC II on Friday, March 15 at Parmer Field. Tacoma then hosts Colorado Rapids 2 in its home opener at Starfire Stadium on Sunday, March 24. Defiance finished second in the Western Conference last season and is coming off back-to-back Pacific Division titles.

TRANSACTION: Tacoma Defiance signs goalkeeper Lars Helleren and defender Owen O'Malley to contracts on March 7, 2024.

Full Name: Lars Helleren

Pronunciation: LAHR-z HEL-ur-en

Position: Goalkeeper

Height: 6-2

Weight: 190

Hometown: Edmonds, Wash.

Date of Birth: October 13, 1998 in Edmonds, Washington

Nationality: USA

Acquired: Signed to Tacoma Defiance on March 7, 2024

Full Name: Owen O’Malley

Position: Defender

Height: 5-11

Weight: 161

Hometown: Cary, North Carolina

Date of Birth: October 1, 2001 in Cary, North Carolina

Nationality: USA

Acquired: Signed to Tacoma Defiance on March 7, 2024