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Sounders v. San Jose, U.S. Open Cup player ratings

Midfield dominance was impressive, should have led to more goals.

Gonzalo Pineda was dominant in the midfield for the Sounders in the U.S. Open Cup on June 24.
Gonzalo Pineda was dominant in the midfield for the Sounders in the U.S. Open Cup on June 24.
JaneG Photography

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

A long night of domination from the Seattle Sounders FC eventually led to a penalty kick victory over the San Jose Earthquakes in the U.S. Open Cup Tuesday.

With the exception of perhaps 15 minutes at the start of the game and the last five minutes of extra time, the Sounders were clearly the better team on the pitch, missing only one element, the finishing of their two designated-player strikers.

I don't think I could have been more pleased with the performance given the score line, and my player ratings in this one reflect that. The Sounders midfield was dominant, as Gonzalo Pineda and Marco Pappa, in particular, took the game by the throat with great passing and interplay. Lamar Neagle also played very well, and Michael Azira did a reasonable impression of Osvaldo Alonso, playing his best game as a Sounder as he continually broke up San Jose's moves forward and started counters. The sheer number of corners, 20, is evidence of how much the midfield dominated.

Here's how I scored the players in Sounders' 2014 U.S. Open Cup win over San Jose:

Marcus Hahnemann: 6. I have to say I was surprised that the goal got past Marcus. He seemed frozen on a shot that seemed like it could have been parried around the post. His lack of reaction was a letdown, and perhaps is evidence of why he didn't replace Stefan Frei when Frei was struggling earlier this year. That criticism leveled, I thought Marcus was good to very good the rest of the game, though he wasn't tested often. I was particularly pleased with his distribution, his throws and kicks almost always seemed to find a player. And of course he made a save on a poorly taken penalty kick that was in his wheelhouse. It may have looked relatively easy, but I don't think it is.

Brad Evans: 7. San Jose mounted no real threats down Brad's side. He was rock solid, again, as a defender, and he had a few threatening runs forward that unfortunately the strikers in the game weren't able to do much with. His PK was excellent.

Chad Marshall: 7. Everyone knows San Jose's only real offensive system is to find ways to get headers, either on long, route one passes, or crosses. How do you counter that? With the best aerial defender in MLS, which is what I believe Chad is at this point in 2014. I thought Chad was very good. San Jose had no legitimate chances coming through Chad in this game.

Zach Scott: 7. Zach is not as dominant in the air as Marshall, but he is very good at it. It's true that the one goal came from the striker he was marking. But I'm not sure what he could have done better on that play. As I mentioned earlier I think that goal is pretty much on the keeper. I'd love to read your thoughts. Consider how little San Jose generated from their aerial style, I'd put Zach as a "very good" 7 in this one as well.

Leo Gonzalez: 6. Leo was fine. A bit more of San Jose's offense came down his side of the field, but not a lot. I thought he was good in this one, but perhaps not up to the level of his line mates.

Michael Azira: 7. Having Michael play as well as he did in this game, and half of the PSA Elite game, is a revelation. It seems like when you pair him with a quality passer in the center he is able to sit back and just be the guy who breaks up passes and makes tackles and such. I scored him a plus-8 in my impact plays notebook almost exclusively for his ability to stop San Jose from doing anything threatening in the midfield.

Gonzalo Pineda: 8. MOTM. In my mind this was close to the best, if not the best, performance of the year for Gonzalo. I had him at plus-10 in my impact plays notebook based on passing, positioning and ball control. I think the key to this victory was when Gonzalo stepped up his game and started combining with Pappa playing balls on the ground and possessing, putting an end to San Jose's preferred style of just playing long-ball and head-tennis over and over. It's too bad no one could find a way to finish one of his accurate crosses. And of course he scored his PK. Do we expect any less at this point?

Lamar Neagle: 7. I scored Lamar a "very good" on this game based on the plus-8 in my impact plays notebook. To me Lamar was the most consistent goal threat, and not the strikers in front of him. The Sounders only run-of-play goal came when Lamar took it on himself to run into the box, ended up with four attackers on his back, and then had the smarts to find the wide open Kenny Cooper. I imagine the Sounders wanted to go big in this game, but I wonder whether they are considering playing Lamar up front more often when Martins and Dempsey are unavailable. Rock solid PK as well.

Marco Pappa: 8. Like Pineda, I think Marco stepped up and took over this game. He was all over the place in terms of his passing and possession, robbing San Jose of their ability to just play it in the air all game long. Also like Pineda I scored him a plus-10 in my impact plays notebook. I do wish one of his many long attempts had made it on frame. In a couple cases I thought he might have done better playing a pass rather than shooting. His PK was perfect, thankfully.

Kenny Cooper: 6. Kenny scored a nice goal, thanks to Neagle's work, but beyond that I didn't show him having a lot of impact on this one. I scored him a plus-3 in my notebook, even including the goal. Would like to see him step up and be more dominant in games where Dempsey and Martins are unavailable. Someone needs to be that striker when the midfield plays like it did.

Cam Weaver: 6. Ross Fletcher, the Sounders TV announcer, made quite a few comments about Cam's work rate in this one, and I saw that. But Cam is not much of a goal threat as a striker so far in this go-round in Seattle. I was pretty surprised when Cooper came off before him to allow Chad Barrett some time.


Chad Barrett (79th minute): 6. Chad came in and made an immediate impact, and I quickly noted four positive plays in my notebook. But he had much less impact in the extra time, which surprised me given how fresh he was compared to those who were trying to defend him. A decent shift, but certainly not as good as some of his earlier performances.

Jalil Anibaba: (99th minute): 6. What a luxury to have a player of Jalil's ability to bring off the bench and allow Evans to move forward. Not much impact, but also no negative impacts.

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