Here is a key to the standard 1-10 scale.
7. Very good
10. World Class
Domination. Seattle Sounders FC completely outclassed Colorado in the 4-1 win Saturday, April 26. It was a complete team beat-down and, with the exception of about 10 minutes to start the game and a slight mistake that led to the Rapids goal, it was a flawless performance. As a team the Sounders completed 85 percent of their passes. They held possession for 57.4 percent of the game
How easy it is to write player ratings for a performance like that one. Clint Dempsey was as dominating as he was in Portland. Ozzie Alonso completed an amazing 94 percent of his 83 pass attempts. Obafemi Martins was great, as were Gonzalo Pineda and Chad Marshall. Lamar Neagle, Marco Pappa and Dylan Remick all had very good performances. In the first half, the Sounders had 60 percent of possession. In the second, they unleashed an unrelenting attack on poor Clint Irwin and the shell-shocked Rapids defense.
Regular readers of this feature know that I keep notes of impact plays, both positive and negative, throughout the game - impressive passes that cut through the defense or switch the field to open up play, important clearances, threatening shots, goals, great corners and free kicks, tackles that end a legitimate chance, etc. Last week, at Chivas USA, no one had more than a plus-5 in my notebook. This week seven players had a plus-8 or higher.
Read on to see how I scored a performance I consider one of the best in the Sounders' five-plus years in MLS.
Stefan Frei: 6. There was little Stefan could do on the goal, I think. That was a case of his defense letting him down. Every other chance he handled with ease. Quiet game.
DeAndre Yedlin: 6. I think sometimes, when things are going really well, everyone on the roster thinks they can make a great play at any time. That's how I would describe DeAndre's decision to try to step in front and steal the pass that led to the goal rather than just play the man from behind. It wasn't the greatest decision, but for me it doesn't undo what was otherwise a very heady game from DeAndre. In contrast to previous performances, you couldn't point to one time the entire game that there was a free run down DeAndre's wing. Part of that might be Colorado's choice to play a diamond midfield. But I would argue DeAndre picked his spots very intelligently this week. And he contributed a lot to the Sounders' impressive possession performance, completing an amazing 80 passes.
Chad Marshall: 8. Chad earned a plus-8 in my impact-plays notebook. The thing about him I still find amazing this far into the season is how often he wins headers and loose balls in or near the box and manages to pass to someone rather than just clearing the ball. He completed 96 percent of his passes. And finally one of his headers off a corner paid off in a goal. The other team has to know that Pineda is looking to Chad most of the time. Yet they seem powerless to do anything about it. Next up, hopefully, is Chad scoring one for himself.
Djimi Traore: 6. Djimi tied with Frei for the lowest score in my notebook, but that's not because he had a poor night. He did have a couple of really iffy clearances in the first 10 minutes or so, but like Frei his score here reflects he just wasn't called on a lot. When he was challenged, he was mostly successful. And as usual, when he wasn't in the right spot or made a poor touch, he did what was necessary to make up the difference. I'm surprised by how many sliding tackles Djimi tries in the box. That seems like a recipe for a lot of penalties. To Djimi's credit he almost always gets the ball cleanly.
Dylan Remick: 7. An eye-opening performance from Dylan. He was his usual flash down the wing into the attack, but his defense was much-improved from some of his recent starts. And his passing was very solid, with a lot of intricate plays with Martins, Pappa and Neagle along the touchline, completing 82 percent of his passes. If he can regularly play defense that solidly while adding what he adds to the offense, it will start to become an argument about whether he should remain the starter even when Leo Gonzalez is healthy.
Osvaldo Alonso: 9. All of us who are doing ratings have favorite players and biases. People who have read my comments on this site know I love Ozzie. He plays soccer the way I want to see it played. He is hard as nails, but skilled enough on the ball to make almost any kind of pass. Still, I try really, really hard to leave my biases aside when I do these ratings. I try to be as hard on Ozzie as I am on anyone else. He doesn't make it easy. This week Ozzie completed 94 percent of his 83 attempted passes. He completely owned the supposedly stiffly compact Colorado midfield. I had him at plus-11 in terms of impact plays when he left the field at 81:15, with not one single negative mark in my notebook. Everyone gets excited about the offense this team is putting up, as they should, but none of it would be possible if Ozzie wasn't who he is and dominating the midfield like he did Saturday. This was an MLS Best XI-type performance, in my opinion.
Gonzalo Pineda: 8. In the past I have noted Gonzalo seemingly running out of steam as the game progressed. But in this game I had him making more impact in the second half than the first. If you rewatch the game, go to 91:22 to see Gonzalo make a run at a defender to put pressure on a pass. In the 92nd minute, up by three goals, he was running to put high pressure and possibly force a turnover. Pineda made a few more mistakes than his midfield mate Alonso, but he more than made up for them. His corner kicks are really great - as good as Mauro Rosales, which is saying something. I scored Gonzalo a plus-9 in impact plays and am more convinced than ever that he should start next to Ozzie every game he is healthy enough to do so, even when Brad Evans is available for a full 90.
Lamar Neagle: 7. I have made some statements in this feature, and the comment threads of other Sounder at Heart stories, that I'm not always sold on Lamar's direct style. Saturday's performance showed the incredibly positive side of his approach. He puts a ton of pressure on defenders. The Rapids defense had a hard enough time accounting for Martins and Dempsey, then Lamar jumped into a spot just to the left or right to make a run. He also helped out on defense often. I had Lamar at plus-10 in terms of impact plays, third highest of the game. If he created fewer turnovers I would have rated him even higher.
Marco Pappa: 7. Marco's best performance in a Sounders uniform so far. I had him at plus-six in impact plays in the first half, trailing only Alonso and Neagle. He continued to make an impact until just a couple minutes before he was pulled for Evans. In many ways he seems a perfect companion to the sleek passing of Dempsey and Martins. I predict many more good things as he becomes more integrated into the starting 11.
Clint Dempsey: 9. MOTM. Clint was simply amazing in this game, on par with his outstanding performance in Portland. As a person who has watched every Sounders game, I would argue that his performances in those two games are two of the best performances we have ever seen. I'll read the comments and see if y'all can think of any other field player that did this much damage this comprehensively. It's not just the two goals, which were great, but his complete mastery of the game. He receives the ball as well as anyone I've seen in MLS. He had only 6 turnovers. Compare that to the 24 of Neagle and the 22 of Martins. People in these positions usually lose the ball a lot. It's tough to work your way through a last line of defense, there is so little room and so many feet and legs around. Clint still completed 93 percent of his passes. The guy is doing flip-kick passes and back-heels and whatever else comes to his mind, yet the passes are finding their mark almost every time. This early-season run Clint is on may end up being something you tell your grandkids about.
Obafemi Martins: 8. Last week there was some discussion about Oba's passing and turnovers. He had quite a few this week as well. I'll tell you simply that I don't often mark Oba down when he loses the ball in the box surrounded by three people and trying to squeeze a pass off to Dempsey or Neagle. Those are passes that frankly I expect to fail more times than they are successful. Perhaps that is what's so amazing about the run Dempsey and Martins are having together right now. They are making stunning combination plays, especially by MLS standards, and they are doing it a dozen or more times a game. It doesn't seem to matter that the defenders know they are the biggest threats on the field, or that they can pull off passes in close quarters that few others can make. Somehow, they are still combining in ways I haven't really seen in MLS at this frequency before. Down in Los Angeles Robbie Keane and Landon Donovan are also very skilled players. Yet if you watch Galaxy games, a lot of their offense is based on quick counters. They basically force a turnover and race past people, making good passes along the way. You don't see them as successful as Dempsey and Martins have been opening up defenders in close-quarters. It has been an absolute thrill to watch.This week Martins set an all-time team record with six shots on goal in one game.
Brad Evans: (69th minute): 6. Brad looks ready to play more. You can tell he has quality that is missing in some ways on the field. But I have no idea who he is going to replace in the starting 11 at this point. Pineda? I can't imagine that given what Pineda has brought to this team. Neagle or Pappa? Which one and why? This is one heck of a good problem for the Sounders to have. And it's helping Brad too. He has as much time as needed to get fully healthy. At some point I imagine he has to be a first-choice player though.
Andy Rose (82nd minute): incomplete.
Kenny Cooper (88th minute): Incomplete.