Here is a key to the standard 1-10 scale.
7. Very good
10. World Class
Pappa was not alone, of course, with Obafemi Martins, Osvaldo Alonso, Gonzalo Pineda, Chad Marshall and Chad Barrett also shining, while the back four of Brad Evans, Marshall, Zach Scott and Leo Gonzalez were so solid that goalkeeper Stefan Frei had little to do in a game the Sounders dominated.
Here's how I scored all of the players in Saturday's outstanding performance.
Stefan Frei: 6. Not much to say. The defense mostly kept him completely clean and Stefan handled the shots on goal that did come.
Brad Evans: 7. At the risk of causing controversy in the comment thread, this is exactly how I want to see a right back play. Brad was rock solid in defense and he went forward and had a couple of threatening crosses. This was my favorite performance at right back this season and Brad contributed a ton to the clean sheet. Solid, smart defense as the first priority; when the Sounders fullbacks play like that this team has the chance for a lot of clean sheets.
Chad Marshall: 7. There were two early, confusing moments when Chad thought Frei was going to come out for the ball and Frei wasn't coming - a communication problem that could have been serious if there was any striker around to take advantage. Other than that Chad was rock solid, as usual, in this game. He won every header and covered smartly. It almost seemed like he wasn't challenged much in this one, but I don't think that's accurate. I think more accurate is that he is a neutralizing force. He eliminates the threat before it can become one.
Zach Scott: 6. Zach played very well again and seems to be answering the question "who is the starting centerback next to Marshall?" I know many readers have noticed Marshall occasionally leaves the back line to pressure the ball or a striker even 30 yards out. I give Zach a ton of credit for how he covered when Marshall did that this game, moving more central and covering the space left behind. He wins headers consistently, covers holes well and frankly is a big reason the defense looks so much better all of the sudden.
Leo Gonzalez: 6. Like Evans, Leo was super solid in defense in this one, allowing the midfield and strikers to focus on scoring, especially in the second half. I have nothing bad to say about Leo, honestly. Does anyone? Ever?
Osvaldo Alonso: 7. I can't decide what my favorite Ozzie highlights are: Is it when he runs down a player in the box and makes a tackle that takes away a legitimate scoring chance? Is it when he intelligently stops, looks around and then switches play with a 40-yard, pinpoint pass to a player wide open on the touchline? Is it when he bulldogs the ball, covering it and refusing to give it up while a frustrated opponent climbs on his back and eventually fouls him? Is it when he goes on a sprint, catching an attacker from behind from 10 yards away and tackling the ball away? Or is it when he turns an overly aggressive midfielder trying to apply high pressure, turning away from the would-be tackle and sprinting into the open before picking an always-accurate pass? He did all of these things and more in this game. If only he could have scored that goal.
Gonzalo Pineda: 7. Last week I made the comment that Pineda might always be just a little bit behind Alonso in terms of contribution to the game. I take that back. First of all in this game Gonzalo played further back at the beginning, helping lock down Javier Morales to the point that Salt Lake basically had no good chances coming through their best player. In the second half he was further forward and was a key contributor to the attack that eventually blew Real out of the stadium. Plus his penalty kick was absolutely perfect. It could not have been saved.
Lamar Neagle: 7. Lamar caused a lot of trouble for Salt Lake, especially in the second half. He is basically the third striker for this team and seems to always be willing to go forward and showing up in dangerous places. If he would have scored one of his chances he could have been man of the match.
Marco Pappa: 8. MOTM. Using my impact-plays notebook Marco fell just short in this game of the highest scores I have marked down all season. One more contribution and I would have given him a 9. So think of this as more of an 8.5 than a straight 8. Why so high? I had Marco as the biggest contributor in the first half thanks a lot to his contributions on defense. He had five positive marks in my notebook, Pineda had three and no one else had more than one. Marco kept it up in the second half, with six more positive marks for a total of a plus-11; the next closest players were Martins and Alonso at plus-6. I thought Marco did everything well: his already mentioned defensive contribution, his precise passing that helped control possession and opened up real chances for teammates, and of course his World Class free kick goal.
Chad Barrett: 7. Chad didn't have a ton of impact in the first half, but he pulled out the old "work rate" card, just running around and putting on as much high pressure as he could. For journeyman players like Chad it's the right recipe - work your behind off, don't try to be too fancy, and create as much havoc as possible. In the second half he was even better and his finish on his goal was very well taken considering the pass was a big behind him. No one is going to mistake Chad's touch in tight spaces with Clint Dempsey, but that's OK. Right now he is being the best Chad Barrett I have seen in several years and has definitely earned his way into the starting striker's role next to Martins in Dempsey's absence.
Obafemi Martins: 7. At half-time of the game I posted this comment in the game thread: "This game needs more Oba." Well, we got it in the second half. I had no marks in my notebook, positive or negative, for Oba at half time. He ended up at plus-6, and that includes two negative marks. That means he had eight positive impact plays in the second half. He was simply great in the second half and got a goal as a reward. I sometimes think back to all the games I watched Oba play in Italy and England and marvel that he is in rave green. And he still plays at that level. When he is on like he was in the second half there are very few MLS defenders who have a chance.
Kenny Cooper (67th minute): 7. Kenny gets my vote as super-sub for this team. The team sometimes struggles with him in the starting lineup, he drifts so much around the field and can't be counted on to contribute defensively from a wing position despite the fact that's where he seems most comfortable in the attacking end. He was very, very good in his substitute appearance in this one. I had him with similar impact scores to Marshall, Scott, Gonzalez and Neagle, despite playing significantly fewer minutes.
Dylan Remick: (75th minute): 6. Dylan didn't do a lot noticeable in his 15-minutes. I liked that he got a short run at left-mid though, and he got one chance to show his speed, which is even more impressive when the opponents are tired.
Andy Rose: (90th minute): incomplete.