Sounders v. Dallas player ratings: Neagle, Martins shine

Lamar Neagle celebrated his birthday with a very good performance in the win over Dallas. - Mike Russell Foto

Obafemi Martins gets the nod as Man of the Match for his two assists.

Here is a key to the standard 1-10 scale.
1. Horrible
2. Awful 
3. Poor
4. Flawed
5. Adequate
6. Good
7. Very good
8. Great
9. Superb
10. World Class

Obafemi Martins won the game for Seattle Sounders FC against FC Dallas in Seattle Wednesday. On two occasions he made a spectacular play and pass to set up two goals, leading the Sounders to a 2-1 victory. He is the Man of the Match.

Interestingly, I don't think Martins had a great game overall. He was responsible for 15 turnovers and only completed 74 percent of his attempted passes, according to Opta. On a couple occasions his passes were so poor that they keyed Dallas counterattacks that had to be stopped by scrambling defenders. A couple of times he took so many touches on the ball that he ended up losing possession to one of the Dallas players that amassed around him.

Such is the nature of soccer and player ratings, I guess. Not counting his assists - a statistic in which he leads MLS - I would have scored Martins no better than a six "good" on the night. I had him even lower than that in the first half, when I felt he was particularly ineffective. But as I said, Martins won the game for Seattle. He was the clear difference maker on a night when the team perhaps showed a little tiredness from having played a game four days ago.

Martins performance makes me question how I rate players in one sense. Looking through my notebook you would see five negative marks and eight positive ones. That plus-3 is nothing like the plus-12 Clint Dempsey has scored twice and the plus-13 I gave Chad Marshall against Philadelphia on Saturday. I wonder if I should be putting more emphasis on the game-breaking, game-winning plays in my note-taking.

Here's how I scored the Wednesday performance.

Stefan Frei: 7. Really commanded his box when necessary. Dallas wasn't a huge threat on the night, but Stefan made the plays when he needed to, leaving nothing to chance. A very good performance in my book.

DeAndre Yedlin: 6. This game was quite an improvement over the last time we played Dallas. It probably helped thatFabian Castillo did not start on DeAndre's side of the field. But I will reiterate now the statement I made last game, DeAndre's decision-making on when to join the attack and when to stay put seems much better recently. His passing was off slightly, 73 percent according to Opta, but I believe this is the kind of performance we should expect when DeAndre is doing his job and doing it well - solid defensive and added threat to the attack on occasion.

Chad Marshall: 7. Chad's ability to win aerial battles is especially important against a team like Dallas, which relies far too heavily on set plays for scoring chances. He didn't quite dominate like he did on Saturday, but he was still very good here, with eight headers, five tackles and one well-timed, important block in the box.

Zach Scott: 6. It was nice to see Zach get a run out. I assume Sigi Schmid chose him over Jalil Anibaba in this one because of Zach's ability in the air - given Dallas' reliance on set plays. It paid off. I saw two or three slight errors from Zach, but more than that on the positive side.

Brad Evans: 6. Once or twice in the first half you could tell Brad was playing a position he is not used to. But I rate his overall performance as good. It was mostly a quiet night in terms of major impacts, but in terms of just being solid, playing the position well and occasionally helping with the attack, I feel like he performed admirably in an unfamiliar spot. I did give Brad a minor demerit in my notebook for the penalty call, but nothing more than I would give if someone made a bad pass - that's to say I'm not sure he really did too much wrong on that play.

Osvaldo Alonso: 7. An uncharacteristically low-impact night for Ozzie. I scored him a plus-four for the game in terms of impact plays, but I only had eight marks in my notebook total. I think you have to give him some credit for the lack of quality chances for Dallas, though. He was in the middle a lot. And he did complete 90 percent of his 61 pass attempts and recorded 10 "recoveries" per Opta.

Gonzalo Pineda: 6. Gonzalo's passing rating was lower in this one, at 71 percent, and he recorded 20 turnovers, according to Opta. I had him at plus-2 in terms of impact plays. Just a little off tonight, but still a valuable member of the midfield in terms of the quick-decision, one-touch passing that has become a hallmark of the 2014 squad.

Lamar Neagle: 7. Lamar was my man of the match right up until the winning goal. He had a big first half, scoring the highest in my note book. His passing was better, completing 82 percent and while he still contributed 15 turnovers they were often in or around the box when he was trying to spring the perfect pass or squeeze through two or three defenders. His run on the goal was magnificent, exactly the kind of diagonal run that coaches dream of and preach about - perfectly to a spot where only he could touch the ball even if a defender had done better to stay with him. His touch into the net was right on as well. There has been a lot of talk about Lamar on this site and particularly recently in the player ratings threads. He had a flawed outing against Philly, but rebounded very, very well. Give the guy some credit, y'all.

Marco Pappa: 6. I like the way Marco interacts with Dempsey and Martins. He plays the same kind of style they do, quick-touch passing, looking to find a move or pass that unlocks a tight defense. I also like that he is willing to take a long shot, and seems to put those on-frame most of the time. Still, he had a couple of down moments in this one, times when he held the ball too long or sent out wayward passes - compare his 71 percent pass-completion rate to Neagle's 82 percent. I thought Marco was good, but not much beyond that.

Clint Dempsey: 7. Clint actually ended up with the highest score in my impact plays notebook. His passing was epic Wednesday, connecting on 90 percent of his passes despite the fact Dallas was keying on him and laying into him on occasion. He didn't get a goal or assist in this one, but I think it's fair to say Clint is the wheelhouse of the Sounders attack and he was very good in that aspect in this game.

Obafemi Martins: 7. MOTM. As I mentioned in the introduction above, Oba's performance here left me a little baffled on his score. Without those two assists I would have scored him almost even for the night in my notebook, which would have earned him a 6. Then again, those two plays were everything in this game, the difference between winning and losing. I know some readers have talked about how a goal should bump a player up a full point. So how about a half-point for each assist? That gets Oba a 7 in my book, though I imagine some of you will rate him higher.

Subs:

Chad Barrett: (74th minute): 7. Ten passes attempted, 10 completed. I thought Chad was very good tonight. He came in and helped keep the pressure on Dallas until they finally broke. It might have only been 20 minutes, but it was a very good 20 minutes.

Kenny Cooper: (86th minute): 7. I almost never give a rating to a player who plays such a short time. But if they score the game-winning goal, it seems they have gone above and beyond. Kenny's run on the goal was similar to Neagle's run on the first one. It was perfect, beat his man, and made the tap in relatively simple. Without those two great runs, all of Martins' work to get himself free and make a pass would have been for nothing. And if you watch MLS a lot you know that's what happens to most crosses in this league. The Sounders should feel blessed they have a player like Cooper on the bench to whom scoring is natural.

Jalil Anibaba (94th minute): Incomplete.

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