Here is a key to the standard 1-10 scale.
7. Very good
10. World Class
(Note: Sorry this is a bit late. I was out of town all day Sunday. Have a great holiday today.)
The Seattle Sounders 1-0 win over Colorado Rapids was a thing of beauty. Oh, I know some of you are going to disagree with me. Some of you would prefer the excitement of the 4-2 and 4-4 games to a complete shutdown of the opposition. But I'm running with the idea from that other football that defense wins championships. And the defense in this game was great.
Given that, I'm naming Leo Gonzalez as my man of the match. As regular readers know, I mark down impact plays in my notebook. Leo had the most positive plays in the side in this game. I know Clint Dempsey had a great goal, and I know he and a couple others also had games I would rate a "great 8." But based on pure number of positive plays no one came close to Leo - who scored a plus-10 in my notebook.
Statistically speaking, Leo was as good as he has been all season, five intercepted passed, completed 82 percent of his 55 pass attempts, two of his three crosses found a teammate and all three of his clearances were effective. (All these stats courtesy of whoscored.com, by the way.) What Leo does best, though, never shows up on the score sheet. When Leo is on, opponents find it impossible to attack from his side of the field. That was the case in this one, with Marlon Hairston so ineffective he took to going down easily to try and earn fouls before he the coaches substituted him out due to ineffectiveness in the 60th minute. Whoscored had Hairston as the second-lowest rated starter for Colorado in the game, trailing only Edson Buddle. It was Hairston's lowest score from that very generous scoring system this year. All because he faced Leo.
Sure shutting down defenders and making strong clearances isn't super sexy. But without it you don't win 1-0 in games where one of the two strikers is less-than-stellar, as was the case in this one.
Enter your ratings now and then read on to see more of mine.
Stefan Frei: 6. Stefan was good here, though he wasn't challenged much. I think the thing that really stands out is that his distribution has gotten much, much better as the season has worn on.
DeAndre Yedlin: 7. DeAndre was again very good here. He completed 86 percent of his pass attempts, he had three tackles and five passes intercepted. I scored him a plus-6 in impact plays. He is not the lockdown defender Leo is at this point, but he has gotten much better as the season has gone on. Meanwhile he continues to be an additional threat in the attacking end. If only his crosses were more accurate in this one.
Chad Marshall: 7. I scored Chad and Yedlin the same in terms of impact plays. Both played very well. Colorado didn't seem to have much of an attacking plan, and if the plan was to hit the ball into the air toward Buddle that was a bad mistake. Edson Buddle is not going to beat Chad Marshall in the air.
Zach Scott: 6. I scored Zach just slightly behind Yedlin and Marshall in terms of impact in the game. He still had a good game, though. No complaints.
Leo Gonzalez: 8. MOTM. I already wrote a ton about Leo's game in the introduction this week. I will say that when I see a team taking the ball down Leo's side I often yell at the TV "don't bother, you have no chance." In addition I thought Leo was really helpful in the attacking end as the Rapids parked the bus early.
Osvaldo Alonso: 8. Ozzie's joined Pineda as the engine in this game. He completed a stunning 97 percent of his 88 passes in this game. Amazing. There has been some discussion recently about how much easier it is to pass from the midfield or defense than from the front. I think that's valid. But I think the kind of passes Ozzie makes are very much needed. When the Sounders attack bogged down in this one it was often because they had too many players playing too close to a touchline with no outlets. So much of what Ozzie does with his passing is switching fields and expanding the defense, opening up running lanes. That's especially important when a team packs many people behind the ball, as Colorado was doing in this one.
Gonzalo Pineda: 8. I scored Gonzalo a plus-7 in my notebook, just behind Alonso's plus-8. His passing percentage was lower than Alonso's but what was different is that he often was trying combination passes with the forwards trying to open up space for a shot. And he did hit on 82 percent of his 82 pass attempts. It's not like he was poor.
Brad Evans: 6. Brad was as good in this game as he was in Portland, perhaps better in some ways. But I still only had him with a plus-four in my notebook. I don't know if it's his covering for Yedlin or what but he just doesn't have his foot on the ball as much as his midfield line mates. That said, Brad's positioning is excellent and his defensive awareness playing in front of an attacking fullback is great.
Marco Pappa: 7. Marco had an assist on the goal thanks to a well-placed corner. Like Evans I thought he was good here, but he pushes to a slightly higher score thanks to the assist and his four tackles, including the spectacular one he made after running 90 yards to catch up to a Rapids' attack.
Clint Dempsey: 8. I'll leave it those of you who have scored a bunch of goals to talk about how difficult it is to leap in the air and redirect a cross into the goal off your shin. I always played center back or defensive midfield in my Sunday league games, and have never actually scored a goal in a competitive match. That finished looked exceedingly difficult to me. Even without the goal I would have given Clint a 7 in this game, I thought he was very good despite a slightly down performance from his strike partner - which meant a lot of their fancy moves in the attacking end fell short. But that goal was everything and I imagine many of you will consider Clint your man of the match because of it.
Obafemi Martins: 5. One game after Oba earned the highest score of the year from Sounder at Heart readers I thought he was a little off. I actually scored him a minus-two in terms of impact plays, including a minus-3 in the first half, when I didn't find one positive impact play of note. He was more impactful in the second half, but of course this was nothing like we experienced in Portland last week.
Lamar Neagle (74th minute): 5. Lamar had a nice tackle and an interception, but he didn't add much offensively here.
Chad Barrett: (75th minute): 5. Chad scored an even 0 in notebook for his 15 or so minutes. He had one nice dribble, but also turned the ball over a couple times. Would have loved for him to keep up the scoring streak in this one, but not every game can be a strong performance.
Andy Rose: (92nd minute): incomplete. No time.