The stage is set.
The Tacoma Defiance are taking on St. Louis CITY2 on Sunday evening in the Western Conference Final of the MLS NEXT Pro Playoffs. Here is everything you need to know:
WHEN AND WHERE: Kickoff is set for 5:30 p.m. PT at Ralph Korte Stadium in Edwardsville, Illinois.
WHERE TO WATCH: The match will be live-streamed on MLSNEXTPro.com
2022 RECORDS AND STANDINGS: Defiance: 14-6-4 (49 points, 2nd West), CITY2: 15-6-3 (49 points, 1st West)
FORM GUIDE (most recent first): Tacoma: WLWLW, St. Louis: WDLLW
PREVIOUS MEETING: Tacoma hosted CITY2 at Starfire Sports Complex on July 30, picking up a comprehensive 5-1 victory over their Western Conference rival. AB Cissoko and Marlon Vargas each bagged a goal in the first half before Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez bagged after the break and Georgi Minoungou iced the match late into stoppage time. Wan Kuzain scored the lone goal for the visitors with a rocket from distance in the 57th minute.
HIGHLIGHTS: Tacoma Defiance vs. Houston Dynamo 2 | September 25, 2022
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Trailing 2-0 late into the second half, the Defiance staged an epic comeback with goals from Vargas and a Dynamo 2 own goal in the closing minutes of the match to force extra time. Tacoma then won the match in penalties, with Achille Robin converting the decisive spot kick. St. Louis, meanwhile, defeated North Texas SC with courtesy of goals from Tomáš Ostrák and Célio Pompeu in the second half.
A CHANCE AT HISTORY: This Defiance side has already achieved something that neither S2 nor Tacoma achieved in the USL Championship by becoming the first to win a postseason match. While the First Team and Academy have secured plenty of silverware in recent years, Sunday presents an opportunity for the men in black to lift their first trophy.
RUBBER MATCH: The Western Conference Final is the third meeting between these two sides in 2022, with Tacoma and St. Louis each winning on their home soil. Expect plenty of fireworks, as the Defiance and CITY2 combined for 13 goals scored during their two matches in the regular season.
DOG MENTALITY: Tacoma showcased plenty of resilience to overturn a two-goal deficit deep into the second half of the Western Conference Semifinal. Midfielder Fito Ovalle spoke about the importance of channeling that same ethos when they take the pitch on Sunday.
HIGHLIGHTS: Tacoma Defiance vs. St Louis CITY2 | July 30, 2022
ONES TO WATCH: Forward Josh Dolling leads all CITY2 players in goals scored this season with eight, while left back Akil Watts has pitched in with six goals and seven assists.
MLS ROSTER: With St. Louis preparing for its inaugural MLS season in 2023, CITY2 boasts a more veteran lineup than most sides in MLS NEXT Pro. Center back Josh Yaro, 28, anchors the defense and Kwame Awuah, 27, has been a mainstay in midfield.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE: The hosts hold an 8-3-1 Ralph Korte Stadium this season and have not lost at home since July 2.