Seattle dug a huge point out in Los Angeles this weekend. However, reading the comments concerning our perceptions of performance on Sounders at Heart two central negatives have emerged; 1) Eddie Johnson was lethargic and 2) Andy Rose's performance was sub par and warrants an immediate swap out with either Evans or Moffat. My perception of Eddie's performance is much more positive than the naysaying portion of the Sounders fan base. Unfortunately, I do not have statistical data on the ground covered by the players and so I will leave this perception alone for now.
Happily though there are some statistical tools, courtesy of MLS.com, with which we can quickly compare the performance of the center midfielders. The first perception I had was that the game was not what anyone would define as the "Beautiful Game." The contest was hard tackling, and hotly contested on both sides. Emotions were running high and the crowd in Carson City was raucous. What fun!
Now on to a couple of points about Rose's and Alonso's performances. The Galaxy's center combination of midfielders was prettier. With overall team possession being 61% Galaxy to 39% Sounders. The central Seattle theme was pack it in and counter attack as opportunities arose. It was not always pretty, that is a fact. The Los Angeles center midfield combination of Juninio and Sarvas were in far more in control of the pitch for much longer periods as LA pressed high and knocked the ball around the park searching for weaknesses to exploit with Keane and company. Los Angeles midfielder Sarvas managed 63 passes with an 89% success rate. Juninio, was slightly less accurate with 63 accumulated passes at a 76% success rate. These are the kind of numbers one would expect in this environment. In fact, I felt Juninio, less his perfect direct free kick on goal, was off. His pass success rate supports this hunch.
Seattle's midfielders, it is true, saw several passes that ran long or wide. Alonso registered a success rate of 71% of his passes on 35 attempts. This I suspect is nearly twenty percentage points lower than his normal success rate, and I believe a reflection of the game plan being executed. Seattle's central midfielders were in front of a bunkered defense and operating in very tight spaces. Meanwhile, Los Angeles with it's high probing press play had room for their central midfielders to receive the ball and spray it about the park.
Now onto a quick look at Rose and how he fit into this theme. Andy Rose had 25 passes attempted at a 72% success rate. His passes were no more or no less statistically accurate then the Honey Badger. He garnered less overall attempts, but he was playing off Alonso in the bunker and was simply not being sent the connecting passes normally offered up by Alonso and others. In fact, Alonso received 28 passes while Rose received 20 passes. Rose was tackled and lost the ball 10 times, while Alonso was tackled and lost the ball 12 times. This I believe is another reflection of the locked down, eleven men behind the ball strategy employed by Seattle in the hostile environment of Carson City. One category that Alonso, as always shined in, was recovery of the ball, 8 to Rose's 1. In headers Rose and Alonso garnered 4 each. Alonso cleared the ball 4 times, of which three were near the six yard box. Rose had 2 clearances, one of which near the penalty spot that was absolutely key at the moment, as it looked really rather grim for Seattle. When viewed in this light, highly negative perceptions of Rose's performance do not stand up to the numbers. Rose played his part in this ugly, high stakes match reasonably effectively.
Is Andy Rose equal in talent and importance to Alonso? No. Is Andy Rose currently as talented and experienced as Evans and Moffat? No. Can Andy Rose hold his own in a hostile environment with all the chips up for grabs? Well, yes it is looking that way. Andy Rose is a young talent in the MLS that is not far from becoming a key Sounder. His youth and energy will more than make up for his mistakes as the Seattle Sounders go forward in this Supporters Shield and MLS Cup run. Andy Rose is on the rise.