Here is a key to the standard 1-10 scale.
7. Very good
10. World Class
Seattle Sounders FC floundered a bit in Chicago on Saturday, but still managed a 3-2 victory over the Chicago Fire. To me that is a sign of a very good team. They were far from their best yet still managed a road win.
With the exception of an outstanding second half by keeper Stefan Frei, I don’t think the squad was all that remarkable in the match. Even Chad Marshall, who was otherwise outstanding, had one play where he looked bad thanks to a stellar move by a Chicago attacker.
As usual, I won’t be giving ratings to the referee, but I did want to point out that the ref is somewhat to blame for this match. He just let things get too out of control. That said, it’s not surprising to me that the Fire played a physical game against the Sounders. Man for man Chicago just doesn’t match up at this point, so repeatedly slowing down the Sounders so that dominant possession didn’t turn into easy goal-scoring chances makes sense from the Fire’s perspective. It’s the ref’s job to police the physical play. And he was very poor in that regard. Didn’t this one remind you of all those old San Jose games? Frank Yallop in common.
Here’s how I scored the Sounders' players in Saturday’s performance.
Stefan Frei: 7. MOTM. For the first time this season Stefan went above and beyond to preserve a win. He had two magnificent stops in the second half. I don’t believe he had any chance to stop the two goals.
Brad Evans: 6. Unlike last week, I don’t have a ton to say about Brad’s outing this week. He was good, but not much more. Like last week I thought he got into the attack enough to help, but mostly stayed back and helped defend.
Chad Marshall: 7. This is perhaps the hardest rating for me this week. Chad was dominant much of the game and I had him with the highest ratings in my impact plays notebook. But then he was fooled pretty badly on the first goal, which led him to get marked down some. I would have given him an 8 for this game if it weren’t for getting beat that one time.
Jalil Anibaba: 7. I thought this was Jalil’s best performance as a Sounder. In the second half, in particular, he was involved in a lot of the clearances and defensive stands that kept the Sounders from a tie or worse. He didn’t win as many balls as Marshall, but he was pretty effective most of the match.
Leo Gonzalez: 6. Leo got beat for speed a couple times early in the game, with his mark getting off crosses and such that Marshall cleared away rather easily. I had him at just above even in terms of impact plays, which is why he gets a 6 here and not the 5 for "adequate."
Osvaldo Alonso: 6. Early in the game I sensed a real strong outing from Ozzie. He was breaking up passes and, as usual, calmly distributing in a way that led the Sounders to a 65-35 possession advantage in the first half. But I don’t think he was more than "good" in this one. He didn’t have a ton of impact, really.
Gonzalo Pineda: 6. Like Alonso, I had hardly any notes in my notebook next to Gonzalo’s name. I thought he played OK, but he wasn’t nearly as effective versus Chicago’s two-deep-lying midfielders as he was versus Real Salt Lake’s diamond last week.
Lamar Neagle: 7. Lamar was almost non-existent in the first half, with just a few touches and none of them leading to anything dangerous. Then he really turned it up in the second half in the absence of Martins, and ended up scoring the game-winner in a situation where the ball was difficult to control and where he had a very small angle to be successful.
Marco Pappa: 7. For a left midfielder, Marco spent an awful lot of time in the center of the park in this one, trying to be the playmaker to set up goals. He had a few very nice passes to open up things for Martins, but his impact was somewhat below the past two games where he won Man of the Match honors from me.
Chad Barrett: 5. I had Chad slightly to the positive in the first 42 minutes. But he was ineffective as a lone striker after Martins received a red card and ended up zeroed out in my notebook. I think Chad is at his best when playing off someone, particularly a more talented player who can find him in space. Unfortunately he didn’t get the opportunity to do that for more than half of this game.
Obafemi Martins: 6. I’m sure I’m going to catch a little grief about this rating. Oba had two goals, and was the best player on the field or the first 42 minutes. But a red card is a red card and it cost this team dearly. None of us know, at this point, whether or not he really deserved it. I do wish that he wasn’t even anywhere near a Fire player during a game stoppage with the team up 2-1. I hope we’ll see someday whether the red was deserved. If it wasn’t then this score should be a 7 and if he had played the second half the way he did the first he was well on his way to a 9.
Kenny Cooper (66th minute): 7. Like last week Kenny stepped in late and had a decent impact on the game. I had him at plus-3 in terms of impact plays, equal to what Evans and Pineda earned for the whole game. A great decision to head the ball back to Neagle led to the game-winning goal. I love this guy as a sub, to be honest.
Michael Azira: (79th minute): 5. Michael got beat on the left hand side of Frei’s box and that led to the second Chicago goal. Counting that, I scored him a minus-1 for the 15 minutes or so he played. That gets you a 5 in my book – adequate, but just below the average 5.5 where I start every player when they appear.
Zach Scott: (91st minute): incomplete.