Here is a key to the standard 1-10 scale.
7. Very good
10. World Class
To me a one-goal loss on the road against a quality team that is arguably the second-best in the MLS is nothing to panic about. In fact I'd argue that it's roughly what we should have expected. We all know the Sounders are not going to win every game in a season. So if you were to pencil in at the beginning of the year the games you thought they might lose, road games against tough teams like Salt Lake and Sporting Kansas City are probably at the top of that list.
That said, it didn't help that no Sounder played particularly inspired soccer in the loss. No wait, I take that back, I thought Leo Gonzalez was on a different plane than his teammates, with stout defense similar to what he played in his last start, but this time combined with better passing and many more forays forward - plays that contributed greatly to any sense that the Sounders might score goals. Leo's score in my impact plays notebook got pretty close to the rare territory of Chad Marshall and Clint Dempsey earlier in the season. So Leo is my Man of the Match. Everyone else was pretty "meh."
I can't wait to see how you rate the players in this one. Enter your ballots, then read on to see how I scored the players individually in this loss.
Stefan Frei: 6. I don't think there is anything at all Stefan could have done differently on the two goals. Do those of you who have played keeper disagree?
DeAndre Yedlin: 5. I scored DeAndre an even 0 in my notebook, with three positive plays countered by three mistakes. He certainly didn't have the kind of offensive day we are used to - where his runs forward throw the other team out of balance and open up unique opportunities.
Chad Marshall: 5. Not up to what we usually see from Chad, but it's not like he played obviously poorly or something. The announcer on TV mistakenly put the bad pass out of the back that led to the second goal on Chad but it was Scott who passed it right into the path of Plata for the quick attack that led to the own goal.
Zach Scott: 5. That clearance. Ugh. Zach's such an effort guy, but I sometimes wish he had just a tad more skill so that his clearances don't lead to breakaway goal chances like the one that Alonso ended up netting by accident.
Leo Gonzalez: 8. MOTM. This score may seem a little out of whack considering the outcome, but it's exactly the score my scoring system tells me to give Leo here. I marked him down as a plus-10 in my notebook; the next highest players were Pineda and Frei at plus-4. As mentioned above his marks come from rock solid defense, better passing and more threatening forays into the final third. At one point I yelled out at the TV "you don't want to go there" as yet another player tried to take Leo down the right touchline and ended up stranded with no options. It would have been wonderful if Leo's shot from outside the box hadn't swerved wide.
Osvaldo Alonso: 5. I'd like to defer to a more experienced player on Ozzie's own-goal. In my mind there was almost nothing he could have done about it given the situation. In a more perfect world he might have been further ahead of his mark when the pass came in and thus able to get a more controlled touch on it. But given the turnover that led to the chance, and the unorganized scramble by the two central defenders, I don't see how that was possible. If you have played defensive midfield I'd love to read your comments below.
Gonzalo Pineda: 6. Gonzalo was pretty non-existent in the first half, but he really became a key part in the attempted comeback. He also displayed a "never back down" attitude that I think this team needs more of. It got chippy in the second half and Gonzalo refused to let himself get pushed around by the Salt Lake players.
Brad Evans: 5. I think Brad's game is the one I think of the most when I think of the real lack of fire from the Sounders in this game. He only attempted 11 passes. He had one tackle, and one turnover. He just seemed to not be in the flow of the Sounders efforts at all. Perhaps it was the injury that was bothering him enough that he came out at the half.
Lamar Neagle: 5. Lost his mark on the first goal Other than that I had him playing reasonably well. One of the main complaints about Lamar has been his passing accuracy, but he was very accurate in this one, completing 89 percent of his pass attempts. He also had an important tackle tracking back in the early going that helped the Sounders stay clean until after the half.
Clint Dempsey: 6. Clint is the one player whose score I changed on taking a closer look at the stats, raising it from a 5 to a 6. He completed 100 percent of his 23 passes, according to Whoscored.com. It's perhaps not his fault that the defenders and midfielders could not get the ball to his feet more often. Still, when it comes to out-and-out impact on the game I had him only at a plus-3. There just wasn't a lot there.
Kenny Cooper: 5. Kenny's efforts started the play that eventually led to the Sounders' goal. - so he had that going for him - but otherwise rather uninspiring. He didn't have his foot on the ball all that often.
Andy Rose (46th minute): 5. Here's a thought about potential Sounders' weaknesses. As good of a player as Andy can be as a central midfielder, he's just not a wing player. Neither is Brad Evans, really. In a game like this one where the Sounders are struggling to match their opponents for possession and Yedlin has to play further back, it would be nice if the team had another threat from the outside of the midfield. Good job by Andy getting into the box on the eventual goal, though. He nearly scored his third header goal in a week.
Chad Barrett: (62nd minute): 5. Chad cleaned up and gave the Sounders some hope for a bit in the second half. It was a real poacher's goal. Other than that I didn't have him down for a ton of impact, though, and his pass completion percentage was only 60 percent, which is unacceptable no matter what position you are playing on the field.
Aaron Kovar: (84th minute): incomplete. Not enough time to really be considered for a score here.