When Taylor Mueller signed with Tacoma Defiance, he did it for a few reasons: he wanted to play for the organization in his hometown, he wanted to live closer to his family, and he wanted Tahoma/Mt. Rainier regularly. While playing for the Charleston Battery kept him close to the water, there was no way to replace his affinity for the mountains.
Mueller achieved those goals and a few others during his two-year stint with Tacoma. Now he sets new goals and stops playing the game professionally. Because he lives in the southeast corner of King County, he can see that mountain any clear day, and on not clear days all he has to do is look in a mirror.
Taylor leaves the USL with a legacy as powerful as any other. An all-league team appearance, a league title, seven playoff appearances, a league-record 74 shutouts for a fielder (he wore 74 as his Tacoma number in honor of the Sounders’ birth year), 241 regular season appearances, 14 Open Cup appearances, 11 playoff appearances and an immense 20,077 minutes of USL play.
Centerbacks rarely get the credit. Mueller hadn’t really expected that. He deserves it. Learning a 3-man backline at age 32 turned the UW grad into a ball-carrying CB capable of line-breaking passes.
Here are a few highlights that illustrate Mueller’s impact in 2021. He has a strong presence in the penalty area and can organize a defence, but he is equally adept at getting the ball to the other half or fueling the game with progressive passes. Class act, class player. pic.twitter.com/gmdz7e1RFC
— john morrissey (@USLTactics) Nov 9, 2021
The ‘pairing’ of Tom Brewitt and Taylor Mueller gave head coach Wade Webber a stable defense to build from. They were the regular starters at center and right as centre-back for the season.
“I think the manager is big on it. He [Webber] likes the defensive side of the game. With my mentality and with a veteran like Taylor next to me, we complement each other well,” said Brewitt. “That gives us a structure to build on.”
This was Tacoma Defiance’s best defensive season. Defiance was at their best when Taylor was on the field. He led the team in G+ (goals added).
He wasn’t just a competitive legend. Taylor Mueller was brought to Tacoma to be a leader.
“The mentorship and guidance he gave to our young players has been incredible, with a level of professionalism and responsibility unique to a veteran of his caliber,” Seattle Sounders FC Director of Player Development Henry Brauner said in the press release announcing Mueller’s retirement. was announced. “We were lucky enough to have Taylor the person around our young players, and just as lucky to have Taylor the player on our team.”
Because Mueller was the oldest statesman on the team, his most frequent left-back partner in 2021 was one of the youngest. Born and raised and only 18 years old, Eric Kinzner leaned on Mueller for lessons about football and the life of a professional.
“He teaches us how to be professionals when we get on the team,” Kinzner told Sounder at Heart after this year’s training, “And then when we’re on the team it’s about maintaining the standards. Taylor “He’s made it his business, so he reminds you that it’s not about one moment of effort, it’s about consistency. He sets the tone for the team.”
When the season was 32, Mueller was closest in age to Randy Mendoza (25) and Brewitt (24). Defiance is remarkably young, often averaging just 21 years old, despite Mueller and Brewitt leading the club within minutes. The youth of Kinzner, Cody Baker and Ethan Dobbelaere on the backline and the rest of the team means that Taylor Mueller’s legacy will continue in the Sounders organization.
“In his two years at the club, he has consistently shown how a professional trains hard every day and is committed to being a 24/7 athlete,” Defiance head coach Wade Webber said of Mueller. “His impact will be felt in the coming years as our youngest players continue his legacy of professionalism, dedication and fearlessness. It has been an honor to work with him.”
Sport makes the most sense when it creates authentic connections between the athletes and their communities. Taylor Mueller did so in Charleston, his adopted home. Battery fans still follow his career. His old teammates are coaches all over the league. Taylor’s connections with his Defiance teammates are rock solid. He is their captain and their friend.
Now he’s moving on to those next steps — walking his dogs, raising a kid, renovating a house with his wife, whatever. Taylor’s football book can close, that ending written with Tacoma Defiance’s best football year and a captain’s armband now looking for a new arm.
There are more books to be written about Taylor Mueller. And more players who should read that first one to study professionalism, leadership and how to reinvent your game when you’re supposedly over the hill (for football).
“I can’t say enough about how grateful I am to end my career with the experiences I’ve had. The support I’ve received over the past ten years has been overwhelming and extremely humbling,” said Mueller. “Thank you to Charleston for giving me the opportunity to make an impact not only on the field, but off it. happens, I will always think of the Holy City as a second home. Thank you to the fans, the Regiment and the club for everything. To the Sounders family, thank you for welcoming me home with open arms. It was a privilege and a honor to be part of such a legendary and successful organization I am very much looking forward to what the future holds for the club To my family I love you all Thank you for all the support and time you put through the spent years attending, it means the world to me. Thanks again to everyone I have encountered in my career, it has made an impact that will last a lifetime.”
Thank you Taylor Mueller. You are definitely Tacoma, once and for all a Sounder.