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Sounders v. PSA Elite U.S. Open Cup player ratings

Evans and Cooper lead as Sounders outclass amateur opponents.

David Estrada had a fine game attacking from the right back spot.
David Estrada had a fine game attacking from the right back spot.

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

Seattle Sounders FC easily won their U.S. Open Cup opener Wednesday against PSA Elite, an amateur side from Southern California. I don't think any of us expected any different.

Sometimes such Open Cup matches become trap games, games where a ton of mistakes or lackadaisical play end up allowing the amateurs to shock the professionals. But there was no sign of that in this match. PSA played a tight defensive shell and tried to hold on for as long as possible without conceding, perhaps hoping for a late shock goal or a trip to penalty kicks after a scoreless 120 minutes. That's how they won their previous two games in this tournament.

But it simply wasn't possible against the Sounders squad full of players with so much more experience. The question for this piece becomes how to rate professional players when their competition is so far outmatched. My approach was to treat this match the way I would any other, with my notebook in hand and marking down the remarkable and poor plays. You won't find any poor scores here given the 5-0 result. But I don't think everyone was great, either, despite the score line. Here's how I scored all of the players in Sounders' 2014 U.S. Open Cup opener:

Marcus Hahnemann: 6. I wonder if Marcus has ever had less to do in a soccer game. He did handle the one legitimate chance PSA put on goal with little problem.

David Estrada: 7. This is an interesting rating to give. David, like most of the backline, had nothing to do in the defensive end. I don't really have any marks in my notebook for his defensive efforts. I thought he was very good in the attack, though, adding an element of speed and passing that helped the Sounders get numbers and opportunities against the packed PSA defense. I don't know that we can tell if he has a future as a fullback, though, given his traffic was all one way.

Jalil Anibaba: 6. Jalil was good here, teaming with Zach Scott and Leo Gonzales to outman the one or two attackers PSA pushed forward during the game. I scored him a plus-2 in impact plays based on a couple of really nice passes out of the back.

Zach Scott: 6. Great header goal and solid, if unchallenged defense.

Leo Gonzalez: 6. Leo was fine. He didn't add as much as Estrada to the attack, but he was never challenged on defense either.

Sean Okoli: 5. If it weren't for the late run and goal I would have scored Sean even lower here. He was the only player with a negative score in my notebook as I found myself marking down quite a few unforced turnovers. Way too often he just ran at one or two defenders, took too many touches and ended up coughing up the ball. To his credit he kept playing the full 90 though and put himself in the right position for the late goal.

Michael Azira: 6. I thought Michael looked a bit confused in the first half, figuring out where he should be in an all-out attack against a bunkered defense. The second half, with the Sounders ahead, was a different story. I jotted down in my notebook how his second-half play reminded me of Ozzie Alonso, with him breaking up just about anything headed toward the defensive line before the center backs were even threatened. It was a good 45 minutes. If such an effort had lasted all game, or come against more challenging competition, I would have given him a 7 here.

Brad Evans: 7. Brad was the best player on the field for his 62-plus minutes. I guess that's what happens when you run out a group of college players against a guy who should arguably be in Brazil with the U.S. National Team. He did a lot, especially with passing, but I thought his biggest contribution was in organizing and coaching the young midfielders around him. Perhaps my favorite moment of the game was when Azira and Kovar seemed to be having a disagreement over who was taking a free kick and Brad jogged over and told them exactly what they were going to do.

Aaron Kovar: 6. Aaron was eating up PSA in the first half, when they were playing five at the back and a sole striker. He had a lot of time on the ball and a lot of it was productive, including winning a penalty. I thought he slowed down a lot in the second half, perhaps because of PSA's formation change. Like Azira I would have scored this a 7 if the effort was at a higher quality for the full 90.

Kenny Cooper: 7. MOTM. Two goals and a couple of decent chances at a third. Kenny looked so much like a man among boys in this game. I don't think he was as effective as he could have been throughout the match, but that had a lot to do with the large amount of defenders packed around him in PSA's bunker. If Evans had played more than 62 minutes I probably would have chosen Brad as man of the match instead.

Cam Weaver: 5. I was kind-of disappointed in Cam's effort here. I expected him to get a goal against this competition and he had a couple pretty good opportunities. That said, I didn't really have any negative marks in my notebook for him either. His 79 minutes were basically a zero in my notebook, which earns a 5 rating from me.


Fabio Pereira (63rd minute): 6. It was nice to see Fabio in some game action. I really liked a couple of his through balls, and ended up scoring him plus-3 in my notebook based on those opportunity-creating passes.

Chad Barrett: (80th minute): 7. Chad looked like a seasoned pro in his limited minutes. The run and cross he pulled off on the last goal was the kind of thing Okoli was trying to do, and failing, pretty much the entire game. If he had played the entire game instead of Weaver I would suggest the Sounders would have scored even more.

Lamar Neagle: (88th minute): incomplete.

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