Perhaps no Seattle Sounders player is more polarizing than Brad Evans. Sure, there are those that differ in their opinions on lots of players, but with Evans it's almost always "love him" or "hate him." Maybe it's because he's neither a purely offensive or defensive player. Maybe it's because his coach obviously likes him a lot. Maybe it's because he has played lots of different positions.
So it would make sense that in Evans' first start of the season at his natural central midfield spot, his performance would not draw any kind of consensus opinion. He did, after all, score a goal on one of his patented late runs into the box. But he also had a host of giveaways, one of which contributed to the Earthquakes' first goal.
In going back through the film and looking at all the touches of the nine players (including three subs) who appeared in the midfield and up top, Evans' performance ends up looking downright decent, but not remotely spectacular. Basically what I did is I charted each of those players touches, scoring them as positive, negative or neutral. Positive touches were anything that successfully moved the action forward; negative touches led directly to a change in possession; and neutral touches were either backward, square or not particularly helpful.
In Evans' case, the goal was the only time he was involved in a clear scoring opportunity, but he also only had one negative touch that led directly to a goal-scoring chance the other way. Unfortunately, that chance happened to be converted.
In talking to Evans at practice this week (the whole interview will be available on the Nos Audietis podcast, which will be available on Thursday), he seemed to appreciate the up-and-down nature of his performance, as well as the team's.
"The thing with the San Jose game was connecting four or five passes was something we didn’t do," he said. "Flat out, it wasn’t good enough. Clearances out of the back weren’t good enough.
"If we can tweak those things. I think we would have been better off in that game, for sure. Once the clearances were coming in, everyone was stepping forward and the ball was getting shoved back down our throats."
After the jump, I'll have a more insight into Evans' performance, as well as share some of my findings on how those other eight players performed.
Without a doubt, Evans' high point in the match came when he scored his first goal of the year. It's hard to tell exactly how he made his run as the game-footage doesn't really do a very good job of showing how the play developed, but we can assume it was a bit of a late run into the box. He had a pretty full-head of steam as he ran toward the goal, and smoothly finished Mauro Rosales' feed.
By my count, Evans didn't have a whole lot of other dangerous moments in this game. I only considered five other touches he made to be "positive" and none of them led to a scoring chance. Like most players I charted, the majority of his touches were neutral.
Evans did have six touches I considered negative, though. Surprisingly, just one of them came in the second half, despite Evans admitting to having heavy legs as the game wore on. Of those negative touches, only one proved particularly costly, as it basically led to Simon Dawkins' equalizing goal in the first half. The giveaway actually happened on the Sounders' side of the field, but it immediately sent the action going the other way and put the Sounders on their heels.
Mauro Rosales: Clearly the Sounders' Man of Match
This probably won't come as much of a surprise, since anyone who watched the game could see the impact Rosales was having, but the degree of his effectiveness was impressive.
Rosales ended up with 13 positive touches, five of which resulted in goal-scoring chances. Both of those figures were the highest totals among the Sounders. Those numbers come are contrasted against his seven negative touches, none of which were particularly costly.
Breaking those numbers down by half, it's also pretty obvious that Rosales' effectiveness was severely limited in the second half. He had just 11 touches in the second half, as compared to 24 in the first half, and just two positive touches after halftime.
Steve Zakuani: Active and Effective
The third-year midfielder has gained a reputation as a midfielder who really plays like a third forward. He's rarely seen on the defensive half of the field and is often accused of waiting in space, rather than making himself available.
None of that was true on Saturday. His 33 touches were third on the team, but just three of them I deemed negative and none of which led to a scoring chance. On the other end, he had seven positive touches, four of which led to scoring opportunities
Erik Friberg: Looking Sick
After the match, we found out Erik Friberg was battling a flu, but it was clear something wasn't right long before. Although he was more active than I had initially thought, registering 20 touches, but only four of those were positive, as opposed to seven that were negative. He was credited with an assist on the first goal, tapping the ball ahead to Rosales. He also had a turnover that led to a goal-scoring opportunity.
Osvaldo Alonso: Not Up To His Standards
Maybe it's unfair, but we've come to expect so much of Osvaldo Alonso that when he's not perfect, we're almost surprised. He wasn't necessarily awful on Saturday, but in the second half especially, he wasn't very good. Overall, he had 37 touches, which by my count was the most on the team, and 11 of those were positive, as opposed to just five negative ones. In the second half, though, he had four negative touches, one of which led to Khari Stephenson's goal.
Alvaro Fernandez: Not Making His Case
Again, my initial before-looking-at-the-tape impression wasn't entirely accurate. He did look to be an improvement over Friberg, but not much of one. He had six negative touches, accounting for a third of his total touches. That's obviously not good. He did have five positive touches and a few nice moments, but I doubt it was enough to get him back into the starting lineup.
O'Brian White: Invisible In the Second Half
A lot of what O'Brian White does is off the ball, so it wasn't surprising that the only had 14 touches. That just two of his touches came in the second half at least partially explains why he was pulled in favor or Nate Jaqua. It should be noted that he had two positive touches in the first half and that both came during his goal-scoring sequence, one kept the ball alive and the other was his header.
Nate Jaqua: Meh
I don't think Nate Jaqua had a bad game, but you'd really have to tweak your definition of that to feel like he had a good one. He played about 30 minutes and had just two positive touches, one of which was on a ball he really should have scored.