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Sounders loss to 'Quakes: Community ratings

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Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

It was a deflating loss and earned one man the worst community rating that Sounder at Heart has seen in its year of rating Seattle Sounders players. It was merely a one-goal loss, but it felt worse. The ratings reflect that feeling. The best performance by a San Jose Earthquakes player was Chris Wondolowski (67% of the 863 respondents rated him as best non-Sounder, Innocent Emghara was a distant second with only 17% of the vote).

Regular reader (and sometime thorn in SaH staffers' hides) Realio provides the match specific explanations this week.

Stefan Frei
Community Rating 5.59, median 6
Dave 6
Realio 6

Stefan made some solid catches and came out most of the time I expected him to. His positioning remains strong (especially his vertical position off of the deepest defender) Frei is really improving his distribution and decision making, which might be due to more possession based defenders in front of him. I especially appreciated the nice pass to Pappa in 24 to start a counter, something I'm noting more of this year.

A few times I noticed that Frei wasn't clearing his line cleanly. There was also at least one time I would like to have seen him come off his line on a cross (which wondo then hit off the crossbar).

This was a pretty hard one for me to rate. I ultimately rated him with an average showing, which is a 5.5. If you give up 3 goals in an MLS game you are going to lose a huge percentage of the time. On some level, this is the Keeper's ultimate job, however I have a hard time pinning these on Frei. You just can't give Wondo pot shots from inside the 18. You might argue that Stefan could have done better on any of the 3 shots, and I might be inclined to agree with you. And then his rating would be higher as I would define any of those goal saving parries as special. Average MLS goalies give up at least 3 goals I think.

Leo Gonzalez
Community Rating 5.85, median 6
Dave 6
Realio 6

Leo had some good work in 1v1 defense throughout the match. He didn't have a ton to do as there is quite a bit of talent difference between Innocent Emaghara and Sanna Nyassi, but especially in light of other defensive issues, steady is good in the back. Leo didn't get forward as dangerously this week, but I had him at a plus 3 for some good support of attacking players and one tremendous shot on goal that forced a good save/resulted in a corner.

On the flip side, Leo fell asleep on defense twice which was a big surprise. I don't usually catch him ball watching. His crossing in support of the offense was pretty dismal as well, as I didn't show him connecting on any dangerously.

Leo didn't so much as take a step back this week as I think he just reverted more to his norm. He is a dependable full back who can be beat for speed but plays solid defense and won't make mistakes. There was little of the flair he showed last week and some small problems made this just an average game for Leo.

Chad Marshall
Community Rating 6.86, median 7
Dave 8
Realio 7
Marshall had a plus 5 in my notebook, based mostly on solid positioning throughout long stretches of the game, headers to possession, and good closing down of attacks. Marshall is also the best on the team at frantic clears, as evidenced by his bicycle kick as well as sliding block to clear midway through half one.

Marshall was much more human in this game than last, making little/no impact on the offensive side of the ball, and making some errors defensively that aren't usually seen. I counted 2 hospital passes putting teammates in bad position as well as one foul in a dangerous spot. This was an above average performance, but only just so.

Brad Evans
Community Rating 2.12, median 2
Dave 2
Realio 2

Let's start with the good. I have Evans with 3 solid clearances, and 3 other recoveries to help defensively. I also liked Evans defensive shape better this game then last (none of his mistakes were due to positioning that I could see, and his line was more in tune with Marshall this game) Evans wins a lot of headers.

Ok, so then there was the rest. I went back and analyzed the 8 (!!) major mistakes I saw him make.

  • Twice Evans misjudged headers and whiffed. Both times Wondo did not misjudge the ball; once the ball hit the crossbar, once the back of the net. I am not sure if it's a vision thing, tired legs, or what, but you just can't miss headers in the box as a center back. Watch how many times a game Marshall jumps and misses.
  • I had Evans with 3 brutal bad touch turnovers that led to chances for SJ. One in particular just seemed like he was being passive. Center defenders CANT BE PASSIVE.
  • Poor decision to head the ball back to Frei. This is perhaps both the worst mistake he made and the one I kind of understand the most. I think it's an incredibly heads up play to realize you can head the ball back to the goalie and one that most players won't even try. The problem is he completely botched the execution of the tactic, and if you can't execute it then inside your own 18 isn't the place to "try stuff". He was done no favors (AGAIN for the 2nd game in a row) by a bad back pass from midfield.
  • Wrapped in a pretzel by dp attacker on the last goal. I would have loved him to redeem himself with some solid positional defense to give Frei more of a chance.
This is a solid 2.5 or so rating. Evans had a bad game and I'll be the first to admit that, however I am most definitely not on the "bradout" bandwagon. I am pretty happy with what Evans brings to the game 90% of the time and I think he has the ability to clean up the admittedly large amount of errors he is making. Also, I don't see anyone on the bench I trust to make better decisions.

Tyrone Mears
Community Rating 5.73, median 6
Dave 5
Realio 6

First off I really hope that the SSFC hamstring jinx hasn't hit Mears. I am starting to get a good idea of who Tyrone is as a player. He's the guy who again had 3 very dangerous overlapping runs that led to chances. This week he added a strong shot on goal, and earned a foul in a dangerous spot. Defensively he was adequate, not great, posting a couple of nice step ups and 2 turnovers created leading to counter attack.

Offsetting his solid defensive game and above average offensive game were a few small things like errant passes, and this week his crosses were much worse quality then last weeks (small sample size) I gave a serious deduction here for the first goal, as Mears loses his mark and then makes a rather lame attempt to block Wondo after he controls. I watched multiple times and I just can't tell if Tyrone passes Wondolowski to Evans, so as far as my ratings go, that's his man who was left to float unmarked in the box, receive a cross, and score.

Lamar Neagle
Community Rating 4.65, median 5
Dave 5
Realio 4

If Frei had made an amazing save or 2, and Dempsey had longer feet we might be talking a bit more about the utter rollercoaster Neagle seems to be having out there on the wing this year. This game I have Lamar at a whopping negative 6 on impact plays. On the positive side he had a good run in support, one good attacking pass, one good cross, a solid steal on defense, a good dribble to skin Wynne etc. There were some good things happening at times.

Unfortunately for fans of Neagle there were just a ton of issues. I counted 9 bad passes in the first half alone. He was a bit better in the second half but still had 4 or so more and that's just about 8 too many in my opinion. Control has always been an issue with Lamar and I had him with 5 bad touch/control issues. To top off a pretty dismal outing, I had twice noted specifically that he failed to close down on defense. This is something he is really good at and a strength of his game that is really obvious when it's lacking. I really hate to see goals where each of our outside mids appear to have quit on the play but that's what it looked like on 2/3 goals . Forgettable outing for Neagle here.

Gonzalo Pineda
Community Rating 5.37, median 5
Dave 5
Realio 6

This was an average day from Pineda. There was much less spacing, which I can only attribute to the overloaded midfield from San Jose. Pineda just seemed to be running into Azira a lot. Still, Gonzalo managed a few really nice pressures of the ball, and a few steals in the midfield that led to quick counters. Pineda had by far the most passes of the team and really nice (90 %+) accuracy.

Pineda did still have a few bad passes, 3 of which directly led to dangerous opportunities. It was even more alarming for me to see him look really slow on defense enough to make my book twice and a third time actually watching a goal. (Goal 3) This is not something that bodes if our mf is going to give up on plays.

My book shows he did just enough good to offset that major demerit and 6 it is.

Michael Azira
Community Rating 5.23, median 5
Dave 4
Realio 5

I don't think Michael was MLS quality this game. That's hard to say based on 95% pass completion rate. Azira had a nice track back early to help on defense, and another time or two where he linked up well with his wingers.

Unfortunately there were almost zero linkups with Azira and those 2 striker guys. I had Michael marked down for the following: bad defensive position, bad control leading to turnover (x2), no movement, and commits foul in bad position (x2). I also really think his hard touch to Evans started the snowball that led to a goal (which everyone pretty much watched) Everyone knows our defense needs time, so I really think the midfield should do a better job of recognizing that and helping them out. Last game was Pineda with a rough pass back that put pressure on Evans. We have to be better in connecting through midfield, and Azira was just flat. (side note, both mids were practically on top of each other all game. Where's the spacing?!?!)

Marco Pappa
Community Rating 6.05, median 6
Dave 6
Realio 7

I thought this was going to be a 6 but looking at my notebook a lot of good stuff started outweighing the bad. Pappa is by far the best server of the ball on the team right now, and his quality set pieces hopefully will start to pay off. I had Pappa with 5 great services into dangerous positions, 3 switching field to stagger attack point, and a few incisive passes. While I didn't see as much defense as last game, Marco was still good for 3 quality pressure leading to turnovers.

No one really had a great game, and Marco was no exception here. His overall rating was only a plus 5 due to a few dribbles into the defense for a turnover, bad passes etc. One thing I marked heavily was Pappa flat out quit on defense a few times, and I'd really like to see him follow through.

Clint Dempsey
Community Rating 6.74, median 7
Dave 8
Realio 7

While I think Oba had an off game, I think Clint just had a quiet one. Unlike last week's notebook page filler, this week Deuce was relegated to plus marks for strong control in traffic, numerous great flicks and passes to dangerous areas, and plenty of strong vertical runs. He scored a goal (and got kicked in the face for it) and almost had numerous others. I especially noted the back post header that forced a real quality save from the SJ keeper.

There were a few more miskicks, poor passes, and unlike Clint some possession losses this week. I also noted that there was a huge disconnect between the center mids and the forwards. The defensive high pressure affected our forwards greatly and is something we will have to watch in the next few weeks.

Obafemi Martins - man of match
Community Rating 6.77, median 7
Dave 7
Realio 7

Oba with an off game is still a handful. He filled my notebook with good still moves, quality control in traffic and great runs (x4). He scored a goal which was all about positioning, as well has had some good interchanges with others.
I said an off game because Oba got a fair amount of marks down for poor control of the ball multiple times, bad passes that resulted in turnovers, and even going down a bit easy and missing a play.

Let's be realistic here though, he has raised the bar of expectations that even with 3 defenders draped all over him for most of the game he managed to score a goal, be instrumental in attack and drastically affect the shape of the defense.

Andy Rose
Community Rating 5.68, median 6
Dave 7
Realio 6

Andy Rose made a difference. He obviously had an assist on a nice take to the end line and cutback which they teach you in mod soccer as very difficult for the keeper. He had good control and a shot or 2 on goal in a short stint.

While I rated this as an average MLS appearance, there were 2 big things I took from this shift. The first is that Rose entering allowed Pineda to hang back while Rose went forward, which seemed to really help the midfield in advancing the ball. The second is that although this really helped the midfield flow, Rose appeared to be in Dempsey's space way too often. I am not sure if Deuce needs to adjust to the difference between Azira and Rose or Rose needs to adjust his runs.

Chad Barrett
Community Rating 5.32, median 5
Dave 5
Realio 5

I didn't see much from Barrett. He had one good run into the box on the wing and a nice cross that were only memorable since it was an upgrade from what Neagle had shown. He had a couple of bad passes and blocked a Rose shot on goal.

Cristian Roldan
Community Rating 6.23, median 6
Dave 7
Realio 6

How about a 6 ~average mls quality for the first rating of the year for Roldan! He fit right in as an MLS player, and had multiple good pressures on his wing. He had a few solid crosses and didn't do anything particularly great or poor. Maybe could have done better with his one shot on goal. I am of two minds on the yellow card play. One he did have a bit of a poor touch that the veteran DP jumped on but I was actually impressed with his thought process to understand the game situation and realize a tactical foul was the best move. Yeah, I wish he didn't have to give up a yellow/possession but what a smart play and something I was impressed with from the 19 year old.

Referee Baldermero Toledo
Community Rating 4.17, median 4
Dave 3
Realio 4

HAH I knew the 9 from last week was a miracle. I really assumed this was going to be a 5 or 6 (or just a bit below average) but especially seeing how a game COULD be reffed last week this was a pretty big disaster. This is a 3.5 rounded as nicely as I can for such a rough game. I had Toledo calling a few fouls correctly and twice using the advantage rule well.

Unfortunately the rest was a mess. Mis-applying the advantage rule multiple times for both teams, missing handballs, overruling the AR on calls where the AR has vastly superior position etc. I think the red card was the right call but he completely missed the Barnardez hack on Pineda early, and a blatant Oba shove from Barnardez out of the 18 on 11 minutes was right in front of him. Either of those calls might have prevented him from needing to pull a red, as consistent fouls called/a yellow could temper the aggression. He failed this miserably.

So this is what a loss looks and feels like. I hate it. Make it stop. We were all spoiled by the schoolyard feel from game one and that high hurts to drop down from. I'm guessing our ratings overall will end up somewhere in the middle. Right now we need to look hard at these low rating guys and see if it's them, the system, or what and fix it. Dallas is no slouch.