A 2-0 road victory is hard to come by and always good news. The Seattle Sounders appeared to be playing counter-attack almost from the opening whistle. It became more of a bunker after the second goal.
In some ways the game was a bit alarming. Montreal had a few legitimate chances in the second half - blame that on a midfield basically playing almost on the defensive line and a host of pretty poor clearances that immediately turned possession back to the opposition. Still, in every case someone on the Sounders made a difference, usually Chad Marshall, DeAndre Yedlin or Ozzie Alonso, but also Djimi Traore with a clearance off the line that prevented a goal.
My ratings this week reflect the fact that the Sounders did what they needed to win in a game that, especially late in the second half wasn't too pretty.
Stefan Frei: 7. Stefan controlled his box extremely well, especially in the second half. Few of the shots on goal legitimately troubled him. He wasn't out-of-this-world, but in the second half, in particular, he made all the right choices to keep a clean sheet.
DeAndre Yedlin: 7. DeAndre made only one or two mistakes all game, bracketed by acres of running, great positioning and several times where he covered the center of the box as Marshall and Traore were outside marking someone else. A very good performance, perhaps his best of the year so far, particularly from a defensive point of view.
Chad Marshall: 7. As usual Chad dominated the air. He also cleaned up a lot of messes left by others. I think perhaps we are going to get so used to seeing this kind of solid play weekly that we will not notice it as anything spectacular. But it's his play that is the bedrock of the clean sheets.
Djimi Traore: 5. Djimi had a highlight moment when he cleared the line on what would have otherwise been a goal. My biggest complaint is that his other clearances too often just went to a Montreal player, setting up an attack. He was adequate in this game, but not much more.
Dylan Remick: 4. I think "flawed" is the right way to describe Dylan's performance this week. He was not bad, but he got beat several times, particularly the talented Justin Mapp with speed. And late in the game Eric Miller thankfully hit the post after leaving Dylan flat-footed as he zoomed by. Dylan's slowness clearing the ball is what led to that Miller run in the first place. We all know Dylan's defense is a work in progress. I suspect it will get better.
Osvaldo Alonso: 8. Ozzie was consistently one of the better players on the pitch. If you recall last week I spelled out the scoring system I use for marking down when players do things above (or below) generally solid play. I scored Ozzie a plus-10 this week. His passing was mostly on display before the Sounders got the lead. His defensive ability especially shone in the second half, when he was often right with the defenders in making it hard for Montreal to get a clear shot on goal.
Gonzalo Pineda: 7. Gonzalo was the most important player on the pitch for the Sounders in the first half, in my opinion. No disrespect to Lamar Neagle intended. Gonzalo's passing was accurate. He pushed the game forward. And he did a little thing that I'm sure all of his teammates love. If you get a chance to re-watch the game, look at how many times he makes a pass and then moves to occupy the perfect space for a return pass. It's a little thing that means a lot, and he is good at it. His free kick for the first goal was magnificent. Unfortunately he followed that with a poor corner and a poor free kick later in the half. You could see why Sigi said he isn't really 90 minutes fit yet as he had much less influence in the second half.
Andy Rose: 5. I can't honestly remember Andy doing much, or getting many touches, in the first half. The second half I scored him even - a couple of really nice passes and good positioning and a couple of unnecessary giveaways. He was fine enough to beat Montreal this weekend, but I think we would all like to see him make a bigger impact when he is in the lineup.
Lamar Neagle: 7. Lamar did a ton of running and created a ton of headaches for Montreal. That's what we want from him. He tracked back on defense, led a lot of the counter-attacks, and had only a couple of unforced giveaways - once when he ran into a crowd early in the game and lost the ball and one bad pass that led to a turnover. This was his best game of 2014 so far. I know a lot of you believe that is because of the formation, which allowed him to stay forward more often. I'm not sure. I honestly just think he played better. He is capable of this, and more. Also had the header that led to the first goal, hit the post on another shot, probably should have had at least one assist and it was his persistence on a loose ball that set up the second goal.
Kenny Cooper: 7. I couldn't count all the times I saw Kenny all the way back on defense on the wing. I was extremely impressed with his work ethic. His hustle to get to the ball and cross it for the second goal was just one example of how hard he ran in his 65:35 on the pitch Sunday. Great shift out there. Assisted on the second goal with a great cross.
Obafemi Martins: 8. MOTM. It isn't the goal that made me choose Oba as man of the match. It was the incredibly tireless work effort; the great hold-up play with players on his back and hacking at his ankles; his calmness, footwork, ball control and passing ability; and his willingness to run again and again after sometimes hopeless long-balls. I feel like he really earned a goal in this game. And don't forget it was Martin's hold-up play, and one of the fouls he took, that led to the free kick and the first goal too.
Michael Azira (66th minute): 5. Despite the longest substitute appearance, it's hard to point to much Michael did, right or wrong. He didn't look overwhelmed and held his own helping Yedlin on the right side, but it was a workmanlike shift.
Leo Gonzalez (73rd minute): 6. It was good to see Leo out on the pitch. He strengthened the defense and even got involved going forward a couple times.
Cam Weaver (86th minute): Incomplete. Cam did not play long enough to really judge his efforts in any meaningful way. Good to have an old Sounder return home, though.
Here is a key to the standard 1-10 scale.
7. Very good
10. World Class
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