Seattle Sounders FC played well in Los Angeles and are probably not terribly disappointed to be going into the second (home) leg of the MLS Cup tournament's Western Conference Championship trailing 1-0 to the LA Galaxy.
That said, no player had their best performance of the season in the game and the team will need to play better to win the showdown with L.A. Midfield play, in particular will have to step up and offer better support to strikers Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins in order for the Sounders to score the goal, or more, that will be required to make it to the MLS Cup Final. Marco Pappa in particular will have to up his game after a disappointing performance that saw him play ineffectively before coming out in the 62nd minute.
I scored Pappa a "flawed" 4 for the game, the lowest score for the performance. Enter your ratings and then read on to see my complete list of ratings and analysis of the draw in Seattle.
Here is a key to the standard 1-10 scale.
7. Very good
10. World Class
Stefan Frei: 7. Stefan was very good at times in this game and I scored him second-highest in my impact plays notebook at +6. If he could have somehow got a hand on the goal I would have scored him even higher and named him man of the match. It's not that I blame him for the goal, but I think he was one spectacular save short of being the best Sounder on the field.
DeAndre Yedlin: 6. I didn't score DeAndre very well in my notebook, noting more negative impact plays than positive. But a review of the stats at Whoscored.com made me rethink my score. DeAndre led the team in tackles with five, and also logged three clearances. He completed an impressive 84 percent of his passes. Those stats made me go to 6 here, and I think that's the right score.
Chad Marshall: 7. MOTM. It was close between Chad, Frei and Evans for me as man of the match. But Chad scored the highest in my impact plays notebook, including a great diving stop of a potential second goal for LA late in the game. He logged eight clearances, six interceptions and two blocked shots. He completed nine of his 10 passes too.
Zach Scott: 6. Zach was good defensively with six clearances and four interceptions, but I have to say I found him way too rough on many of his challenges. I believe that a ref in a less physical league would have shown him a second yellow at some point in this game. I can't really mark him down for something a ref didn't do, but as a fan I held my breath on several occasions thinking he clearly deserved to be sent off for his consistent fouling.
Leo Gonzalez: 6. Leo had nine clearances here, a number up there in rare Marshall territory. I only scored him a +3 in my notebook, but he was good despite occasionally being forced to choose between defending the left back and the left midfielder as the only Sounders presence on his side of the field.
Michael Azira: 6. A nice performance by Michael. Statistically speaking he was very much in the game, including intercepting six passes and completing 42 of his 48 pass attempts. As nice as that was, I think it's still obvious that Michael is a level down from Osvaldo Alonso in this position. Particularly in terms of making strong tackles and immediately turning them into dangerous attacks. That is something the team was really missing in this game. He also isn't as accurate on longer, shape-changing passes to the wings -- passes Alonso makes regularly that open up lanes for the attackers in the middle of the field. The Sounders were often too narrow in the attack in this game, and part of that was because Alonso wasn't playing.
Gonzalo Pineda: 6. With Alonso out and Pappa ineffective, a lot of work was left to Gonzo in this one. He had the most touches and completed the most passes of any Sounder and he spent a fair amount of time defending on the left as Pappa left his post to roam the field trying to find the game. He was good here, but the extra work he did covering for Pappa and assisting Azira made it harder for him to be as effective in pushing the game forward and creating chances for the forwards. I suspect we will see a different lineup that allows him to contribute more toward potential goals next weekend in Seattle.
Brad Evans: 7. I scored Brad just behind Marshall and Frei for the game, with his best work coming with accurate passing and a load of help on the defensive side. He didn't really contribute much to any offensive push, though. Brad is still the right choice for this team in front of Yedlin against Los Angeles. His astute defending and his willingness to cover for Yedlin's forward runs eliminates Landon Donovan as a big threat on LA's left side.
Marco Pappa: 4. I'm convinced that a lineup with Neagle and Evans on the wings, with Marco as a substitute to add needed offensive push, is the right choice against LA. Unfortunately that wasn't an option here with Neagle unavailable. Pushed into a full-time role on the left midfield, I thought Marco responded rather poorly, particular in terms of defensive responsibilities. I presume that the Sounders coaching staff has given Marco free reign to cross the field looking for balls for link-up passes from the back to the forwards, but too often in this game he abandoned the left sideline completely, denying the team much-needed width or any outlet on that side of the field. That tendency also meant that LA's most-dangerous attacks almost always came through AJ DeLaGarza and Stefan Ishizaki, who took advantage of the man advantage on their side of the field. I suppose all of this would have been worth it had Marco been able to become influential on the offensive end, but only the center backs had fewer touches than he did of the starting field players. And only Martins had a lower pass-completion percentage. I find it difficult to give out low marks in a game where the team as a whole played adequately, but I scored Marco a minus-3 in my impact plays notebook for the times he was dispossessed or failed to complete passes and left his team in a compromising situation. I can't justify giving him anything more than a 4 for this performance.
Clint Dempsey: 6. Clint could have scored here. Perhaps he should have scored, with credit to LA's goalkeeper for keeping his shots out of the net. I thought he was good here, but not up to some of the performances we have seen this season. Both he and Martins played very narrowly, and often refused to swing a ball wide to open up space, instead choosing to go right at defenders with the hope a perfect pass would open up the lane to a goal.
Obafemi Martins: 6. Like Dempsey, I thought Oba was OK here but also too reluctant to spread the field and perhaps too assured of his ability to breakdown a defense with a perfect pass. That led to him having the lowest pass-completion percentage of any of the starting field players. To his credit he did get a couple of those passes through to Dempsey, though, which led to the best goal-scoring opportunities for the Sounders on the night.
Chad Barrett: (62nd minute): 5. I applauded Chad's introduction in this game, with Pappa struggling so much, but I don't think Chad did anything more than Marco did. An offside and a tackle were the only real marks for him in the stats book here, and I scored him a blank 0 in my impact plays notebook.
Andy Rose: (79th minute): 5. Andy had a bit more impact than Barrett did off the bench here, but again not nearly enough to make a difference for a team seeking an equalizer.
Jalil Anibaba (88th minute): incomplete.