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Sounders at San Jose player ratings

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Centerbacks, strikers struggle in 1-0 loss.

Thearon W. Henderson

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

The Seattle Sounders didn't look great in Santa Clara Saturday night as they lost to the San Jose Earthquakes 1-0. The starting center back tandem of Jalil Anibaba and Zach Scott makes too many errors in both positioning and play, and striker Obafemi Martins had an off night, not even managing a shot on goal as he was often far out of position looking for play in the midfield.

The performance was not as bad as the loss to the Galaxy the week before, but it was still not crisp, with a lot of extra passes ending potential scoring threats and most of the team's nine shots on goal directly at San Jose keeper Jon Busch.

Read on to see how I scored the players individually in the loss.

Stefan Frei: 5. Stefan was in no man's land on the goal. If you are going to come out and charge at a breakaway striker you have to fully commit. He didn't. It was a mistake. To be fair the defenders let him down to put him in that spot, but he did not respond well.

DeAndre Yedlin: 6. I scored DeAndre tied for first in my impact plays notebook with Osvaldo Alonso. I liked when he and Evans were on the right side together in that Evans smartly covered DeAndre in the defense allowing him to push forward. He had some really well taken crosses and made a couple of nice plays cutting back to the middle. Like others though, I can think of a time where he passed when I wished he had taken a shot.

Jalil Anibaba: 4. Jalil and Zach Scott are not a good combination in the center. Here's the thing I think bothers me the most: they do not play as their talent level dictates they should. Both are up challenging balls even over the midfield stripe at times, leaving the entire center of the defense abandoned. It's just crazy that they are doing this and I wish I knew why. It was one of those situations that led to the goal, with Jalil up at the midfield stripe trying to mark Chris Wondolowski, who turned Jalil easily and made a great pass forward that exposed the speed difference between Scott and his mark and hung Frei out to dry. Some questions I ask in all seriousness: How much damage is Wondolowski going to do from the center stripe? If we can agree the answer is "not much" then why mark him there at all? Why not hold a solid defensive line further back so that you aren't leaving yourself so exposed?

Zach Scott: 3. Zach received the lowest score in my impact plays notebook at minus-6. He was beat very badly for speed on the goal. He was dispossessed in a dangerous spot on the field and his passing was as bad as Anibaba's was. Like Jalil he was often way up field. I can recall one sequence where he and Jalil were both five yards into the San Jose end and struggled to control a ball, playing a brief bout of head tennis before losing the ball and allowing San Jose a long break into the center of the Sounders' attacking area. Thankfully Yedlin sped back and covered. Like the questions I asked on Anibaba I ask more here. Is there ever a time when a team's two centerbacks should be five yards or so into the attacking half at the same time? If so, why? And who's responsibility is marking attackers if possession is lost in this situation? I'm anxious to read your comments.

Leo Gonzalez: 5. At the half I had Leo as the man of the match. He had a very solid first 45 minutes and was at plus-5 in my notebook. But he seemed to really run out of gas in the second half, regularly misfiring passes and costing the Sounders possession. He ended up with the lowest pass-completion percentage of anyone of the team at 73 percent. Here's hoping it was just Leo tiring because he hasn't played in so long and isn't ready for a full 90.

Osvaldo Alonso: 6. Ozzie is such a good, consistent passer, that we tend to notice his mistakes more than others. There were comments in the game thread asking when it was that Ozzie lost his passing touch. The stats tell a different story, with Ozzie completing 90 percent of his 68 pass attempts. He also led the team in tackles with seven; the next closest in that stat was Gonzalo Pineda with 3. I wouldn't rate Ozzie as "great" in this game, or even "very good" by his lofty standards, but he is my Man of the Match on a night when he seemed the best player on a team that didn't play all that well.

Gonzalo Pineda: 6. I originally had Gonzalo marked down for a 5 here, just adequate. But a cruise through the stats made me reconsider; whoscored.com's stats show a pretty effective night for Gonzo. He completed 88 percent of his 65 passes, including being accurate on six of his seven long balls. He had three shots, two of them on target, and he was second on the team in tackles. In the future I'd like to see the strikers stay higher and the wing players stay a little wider to allow Gonzalo more opportunities to get into positions for long strikes.

Brad Evans: 5. I mentioned in Yedlin's comments above that I really appreciate how Brad offers solid defensive cover for a charging Yedlin. That's the good news. The bad news is I think Brad was relatively ineffective in this game on the whole. I only had him at plus-1 in my notebook and really only marked down three plays all game. He managed just 53 touches in the game total, tied with Martins for the lowest among the field players. Pappa had more than that in 65 minutes. Brad wasn't bad in this game; he just wasn't in it enough.

Marco Pappa: 5. Marco was consistently effective for his 65 minutes in this one, but didn't do anything that would lead to a goal. I'm not sure he is the player I would have pulled, seeing as I had him above Evans at the time and the stats seem to bear that out. I think if he had played the final 25 minutes he would have done enough to earn a 6 from me here, and hopefully much more.

Clint Dempsey: 5. Clint had a wild game. In terms of my impact plays notebook he scored only a plus-1. How does someone with seven shots, three on target, end up with only a plus-1? The answer to that is in the fact Clint led the team in turnovers and times dispossessed of the ball. He was at times the best Sounders player on the field. He was also quite maddening at times. Maybe we are spoiled but we are all used to a little better.

Obafemi Martins: 4. I'm going to guess this will be my most controversial score this week. But I stand by it. I scored Oba a minus-4 in my notebook, trailing only Scott for lowest on the squad. Oba played way too far back in this game - there was one time when he was the center pivot player between Scott and Anibaba on the back line. That should never happen. Oba just has to be up front pushing the line, getting a few offsides and threatening the keeper and the goal at all times. Oba is supposed to be the advanced striker with Dempsey tucked in behind so Dempsey can distribute passes or take long shots - which he is better at than anyone on the Sounders. That is not how the team looked in this game, Oba was often behind Dempsey. He was often behind the wide midfielders too. It's a mistake for him to play that way, and it exacerbated Oba's weaknesses. In this game his turnovers and times being dispossessed were further up the field than they are when most of his operation is inside or around the 18-yard box. Some might argue that he is a good distributor, but he is not. He was second-worst in pass-completion percentage in this game, with nine of his 40 pass attempts going astray. To me you add the poor positioning to the poor passing and the fact he took no shots on goal the entire game and you can't call this performance anything but a 4 "flawed."

Subs:

Kenny Cooper: (65th minute): 6. Kenny had two shots on goal that were easily handled and he completed all six of his pass attempts. That adds up to a "good" substitute shift to me, if not really game-changing in any way.

Chad Barrett: (83rd minute): 6. Chad's header shot on goal was saved by Wondolowski. It was perhaps the most threatening Sounders attempt on goal of the game. You have to give him some credit for having some influence in a very short shift.