Three hundred and fifty-five raters shared their thoughts on Seattle Sounders FC's win over the Colorado Rapids. It was a close contest for the best non-Sounder with Dillon Powers edging Gabriel Torres at 28% of ratings against 26%.
Every single starting player rated as above average. In fact, each starter's ratings occupied a narrow band ranging from Marco Pappa at 6.49 to the fan Man of the Match, Lamar Neagle , at 6.69. SaH readers voted Obafemi Martins as Man of the Match, while Realio rated Neagle as the MotM; his ratings follow.
6.58 7.50 (s.d. 0.88)
Realio - 8
Frei is really getting into a groove this season. Gone are all the jittery mistakes and he is just playing with a ton of confidence. It is so refreshing to have such assertiveness in a player who can make a game changing play from the GK position. Frei is playing fantastically lately, excelling on all the little things as well as making huge saves when needed.
Stefan is picking his spots to come out very nicely lately, and he did so in the 4th minute to textbook specifications. His positioning and advancement on Powers on the 1v1 is great, with his hands low blocking the corners and his body "big" to cut off angles. He was rewarded with a post save. I noted also a great reaction save from a header in the 15th minute and another sliding save in the 20th. A 28th minute punch showed what kind of all around game he was having as it was direct and assertive and exactly what you want from a goalie who is getting a bit more of the ball than you would like to see.
There was one bad clear that created a chance, a miscommunication with Remick that was turned away, and a Sarvas deflection that fooled him, but Frei was just magnificent on everything he else could control. It's hard to rate goalies, because in order to have a "great" game they have to be tested a lot which can be unfair. This was a multifaceted goalkeeping performance that had me considering Frei for MOTM honors.
6.50 5.76 (s.d. 0.89)
Realio - 6
Dylan fell back to earth a little bit from some above average play but was still solid on the night. I noted some positives: a few good overlaps, some crosses that were in the right place, and solid defense. Unlike the last few games Remick had a quiet night on the stat sheet rating, a low + overall.
I noted a few bad pass turnovers that were dangerous due to Colorado's high, intense pressure. The miscommunication with Frei needs to be cleaned up as well. The large negative mark that Dylan got was attributed to a bad header for the second week in a row that was both backwards and square and put Marshall in a bad spot. Just like last week, Marshall was forced to slide to try to protect the bad pass and got a yellow for his troubles (potential red). To put this in perspective Chad Marshall had 1 yellow card ALL LAST YEAR and has never gotten more than 2 in a season for 11 years in a row. This has potential to be an issue if the players around him are going to put him into position to pick up cards.
Tactically, Remick was way higher than Mears for the entire first half, and this was problematic. I assume that was by design, but it was also something they definitely fixed in the second half. Ok game by Remick.
6.57 6.42 (s.d. 0.82)
Realio - 6
It feels weird giving Marshall a 6 since he's such a dominant player but there just wasn't enough in the book to boost him higher. I mentioned his sudden proclivity for yellow card tackles, and he gave up a few fouls in dangerous spots that Marshall usually won't do. The goal had me scratching my head as he was the only one in the back four 5+ yards back and keeping the entire play onside. I am not sure if it's because he needs to cover for Remick or Evans or he is worried about faster players but you just cannot drop that far without pulling others to keep the defensive shape.
Even with a few blunders, Chad still fills up a stat sheet with defensive positioning and clearances (4 headers). Something new was a great long ball to Pappa in the 6th minute that I liked as it jumpstarted a counter against the relentless Colorado pressure. I thought he had earned an assist for a perfect back post flick on a corner kick that went right to Dempsey but was denied by a great Irwin save. Chad does all the little things right that are needed when surrounded by inexperienced players to calm the game down, and turned in a solid, average performance.
6.58 6.44 (s.d. 0.95)
Realio - 7
Brad Evans is really growing into the playmaking CB role that I have discussed on other ratings posts, but this was the first real game where Evans excelled primarily as a defender. Evans earned a plus 8 and almost every single mark is for a really nice defensive action. I have him with 3 real nice "stepping up to thwart an attack" and multiple times where his shape and defending within the system were just spectacular. An ongoing marker for Evans is how he deals with 1v1 defense and in the 44th he kicked a ball into the stands allowing the defense time to reset, showing signs of defensive maturity. He is really learning fast, dominating the air next to Marshall and keeping possession.
I had Evans losing his mark on a set piece this game, and I wrote a note to keep track of the Sounders set piece defending. It seems fairly iffy up to this point and has given up goals and big chances alike. In the 85th minute Brad makes a tremendous slide tackle to save Mears from a big mistake and while I like that he made the right play, I worry that he is going to ground a bit too early. Both he and Marshall slid into each other on the Powers post shot, and other times I noticed he seemed to leave his feet a bit early. There is a time and a place for slide tackling, but I shall be watching to see if he is leaning on this move at the expense of proper tactical defensive positioning.
6.60 5.86 (s.d. 0.79)
Realio - 5
Mears was below average in this game and was unable to do anything offensively to offset the defensive lapses. I think Mears is a solid right back who can go forward, but unfortunately against Colorado he did neither of these things too well.
On the goal scoring play Mears was way up field and unable to support the defense. He got nutmegged brutally on the corner of the box on another play where Evans had to come over and slide tackle the danger away (in the box a bit dangerously). Tyrone had a few bad passes and even a complete whiff on a clearance inside his own 6. In the 74th minute he gave up a rather silly yellow card/free kick combo by pulling Torres down by the neck with plenty of help around.
I hope that this was an aberration, and I believe this level of play isn't indicative of the player Mears can be for the Sounders. His interplay with Pappa was non-existent and Tyrone stayed much deeper than Remick in defense. This meant there was not much offense coming through the right side at all. I hope that the success of Lamar Neagle in this game will force teams to put a few more resources to the other side, freeing up Mears and Pappa to create like they did against New England (both 8 ratings). I do like the idea of Mears taking a few set pieces.
6.69 MOTM 8.00 (s.d. 0.93)
Realio - 8 MOTM
Well hello there mister Neagle. You might have thought Lamar a charlatan for his season performance but he changed all that in Colorado. After the re-watch it came down to about 4 guys who really put in MOTM performances. I gave it to Neagle who turned in his most complete game of the year and GOALS CHANGE GAMES. Both goals came at just the right time to give the Sounders the lead and take some pressure off a team on the back foot.
Where to start? How about starting off the game helping Remick out on defense and continuing to show defensive desire throughout? When you are getting a bit shell-shocked by a team putting on high pressure and spraying shots around, the best thing to do is make quick decisions. Lamar did that 3 times on the first goal, the last resulting in an early shot taken perfectly. That's his spot, and I've seen similar goals from him from that position a few times before. What I haven't seen is him attempt anything like that this year and it's great that Lamar is finally tapping into this facet of his game. He followed his goal up with another trademark Neagle goal created and finished by pure will. I liked his near post rocket at 58 minutes as well. Neagle didn't get MOTM merely from scoring though; he had excellent distribution all night, highlighted by a pass to Dempsey in the 62nd that was a really nice chance.
Of course, there were the expected bad passes (5) and a few dribbling into trouble and losses of possession, but forget all that for one game. This was a dynamic, attacking, vertical, goal dangerous force that has been missing outside of the 2 high paid guys up front. I've been a vocal detractor of Lamar's play this year but he seems to be heating up a bit and what impressed me the most about this game from Neagle wasn't the goals, but the way he was much more integrated into the entire system. His runs were better, he made more intelligent decisions, and good things happened for him and those around him.
Andy Rose (off 89')
6.51 6.29 (s.d. 0.97)
Realio - 7
Speaking of guys who hadn't impressed a ton stepping up, Andy Rose had a quietly really nice game. On first watch I wasn't sold that Andy had played very well, but again I was surprised to see the notebook with a plus 7 when I tallied up his scores. His defense and positioning was good (especially in the second half as his fitness is really showing). Andy won headers (4), completed passes at a high rate, and didn't turn the ball over.
Most of the Sounders issues were fixed by some tactical adjustment at half time, but I still saw Rose and Alonso make the exact same run to the same space defensively a few times. I would like to see them play off each other better, they seem to be a bit disconnected as midfield partners, while still both playing at fairly high levels.
My big complaint of Rose's game this year has been his propensity to shuttle the ball square and backwards, and he must read this column because it was a different Rose this game. (Hi Andy if you are reading!) He put the ball more into forward positions this game than all year, obviously highlighted by a spectacular ball to a little Nigerian magician in the 73rd minute. This is what was lacking in Andy's play and I am overjoyed to see him improve in this area. Rose gives us a really nice option with a skill set that none of the other midfielders can offer.
6.54 6.87 (s.d. 0.82)
Realio - 7
Ho Hum. Ozzie had an above average game. Watching this guy with a fine toothed comb just has given me an all new appreciation for how much he affects the game. Rose played really well, but it all starts with playing off Ozzie's positioning and tenacity. Even though the Sounders were outnumbered in the midfield at times, I counted 4 times Alonso himself stopped attacks. The thing that differentiates Ozzie from other defensive mids is he transitions from defensive destroyer to offensive attacker so quickly. This both kick starts the offense as well as alleviates so much pressure on the defense and mids.
I had a turnover and a miss touch by Alonso in this game and that's about it. I think the positioning can be a bit better with Rose and I really would like to see Alonso have a bit more confidence in his defense to roam a bit higher since I think he has good vision for attacking, but I think the team will grow into that as the season wears on.
This was an all around solid, above average MLS performance turned in by Alonso. Just for flair, Ozzie showed us he's no philistine either in the 88th minute with a fantastic control and spin through traffic that was pure art to watch a CM not named Kaka' do at the end of a game at altitude.
Marco Pappa (off 81')
6.49 6.05 (s.d. 0.89)
Realio - 7
I'm starting to see that Pappa is going to remain one of the hardest players to rate every week. He does a ton of great things that often go unnoticed, and then some random blunders that look awful. These things make it difficult to judge how he's playing, but Marco earned a 7 from me on a plus 6 score game with a lot on both sides of the ledger.
Starting with the poor play, I noted a few turnovers that really came from forcing passes. Pappa gave up a foul in a bad position and also had a rough service on a corner. It seems Marco is good for one pass a game that is just horribly across the field square to no one and is an easy counter for the defense. I like the switch as much as the next, but he really has to stop shoving random square passes to no one.
This game showcased a lot of midfield work on defense from Pappa, and that was really nice to see. Pappa remains a creative force, as evidenced by the give and go to Neagle with a sweet over the top ball that eventually resulted in the second Sounders goal. Marco had a 36th minute shot on goal that was very dangerous on a free kick that earned a corner. This corner, also taken by Pappa, hit Marshall perfectly and was flicked back post for a wonderful chance for Dempsey.
After taking all these small points into consideration I believe Pappa played an above average game, and while he didn't dominate the game like the MOTM contenders, he actually did a lot more positive things than I thought on first watch.
6.56 8.15 MOTM (s.d. 0.87)
Realio - 8
I can't go another minute without talking about THE MOVE. What a lucky group of fans we are to see a guy with that capability playing for our home team. The amount of skill it takes to trap a 40 yard pass on the fly with your back to the goal behind you, spin, between 2 defenders and then still have the balance and acceleration to surge to the goal, and beat a goalie who was having a very good game calmly was just AMAZING. I don't know how many players in the world can do that, but I'll wager no others are playing in MLS.
Oba also exhibited great holdup play, had a nice header on goal, put Dempsey in on goal, and did his usual stellar shift of MVP worthy attacking.
I would be remiss if I didn't talk about the negatives for the game. Oba had 2 bad turnovers. Both occurred after the 75th minute.
There isn't much else to say about Oba's game, he was dangerous and even amidst the entire defense he garners he still managed that moment of utter brilliance. I could easily justify Oba being MOTM.
Clint Dempsey (off 70')
6.58 6.67 (s.d. 0.80)
Realio - 8
The surprising 4th person I considered for MOTM was none other than Deuce. I am guessing a lot of people had the other 3 up there pegged, but Clint Dempsey really played spectacularly and deserves to be in the discussion. This level of play is why I think he can win the league MVP. He didn't score, but just imposed his will on the game completely for 70 minutes.
Clint started off the game with an assist which wasn't spectacularly pretty as Neagle did a lot of the work, but it is Dempsey's reward for constantly making the right pass. Dempsey has a really high soccer IQ and almost always makes the intelligent pass which leads to a high pass completion percentage. It seems to get even better in the attacking third and I had Clint down for FIVE big chances created. He is opening up so much space and facilitating others successes so well it's remarkable. His perfectly weighted pass to Neagle almost completed the hat trick in the 59th minute.
Even with the more creative role accepted this game Dempsey still had a wonderful 37th minute shot forcing a really nice save and a 47th minute long run and shot as well.
The epitome of the Dempsey game is the sort of thing that happened in the 56th minute where he holds up the ball, beats 3 players and earned a free kick right outside the 18. He does this all game, drawing defenders, making good passes, showing amazing control and just playing at a higher level than everyone else. Dempsey just completely filled up my stat sheet with a plus 9 on with no major negative marks.
Gonzalo Pineda (70')
5.91 (90% rated) 6.02 (s.d. 0.79)
Realio - 7
I usually don't have a huge expectation for substitute roles, and what expectation I had was way exceeded by Pineda. He played great, amassing a plus 7 in 20 minutes. I had Gonzalo with only one turnover the entire time he played, which is exactly what I wanted from a center midfield substitution.
Pineda immediately stole the ball upon entering the game and continued this defensive tenacity throughout. It's clear that he has more tactical experience playing alongside Alonso as his spacing was very good. His motor for defensive help was tremendous, and he buzzed around creating havoc through the Colorado midfield. He covered for the rare Alonso mistake in the 84th minute quickly and efficiently.
I was really impressed with the impact that Pineda made as well as how the shape changed (we scored almost immediately and then were able to kill off the game). I think the rest that our others CMs can provide will do wonders for Gonzalo, and showed me a rested Pineda is still a really nice piece for Sigi.
Cristian Roldan (81')
5.84 (46% rated) 5.67 (s.d. 0.91)
Realio - 5
It might be unfair to rate this as less than MLS average, but Roldan didn't really get into the flow of things. I had him for a good run as well as losing possession once. While not really influencing the game, I saw a few opportunities for Christian to do better, and I would like to see him take his chances and show a bit more.
Leo Gonzalez (89')
5.93 (10% rated) 5.86 (s.d. 1.57)
Realio - NA
Return of the vaunted Left Side Lockdown. Midfielder Leo was caught ball watching in extra time which was a bit disappointing for the fresh player.
Community - 5.17 (with a variance from 1 to 9) (s.d. 1.62)
Realio - 4
Well it's a MLS referee. I liked his no call in the box early on a flop when Evans made a nice shoulder tackle. He did a good job managing the game through long periods and stayed mostly out of the conversation.
What I didn't like was what most of you probably docked him for. Kicking the ball after the play into someone's head is a card. Either color. But IT'S A CARD. No card was given. Then Dempsey gets stomped on and he misses it. He is already aware of the bad blood between Sarvas the hack and Dempsey, but doesn't follow their altercation in front of him? I know Dempsey is a jerk and can play dirty as well, but I think you need to protect the head and the balls. He did neither and Deuce got both crushed.
I counted 8 fouls committed by Pittinari. No yellow. This is why you have issues in controlling the game when you allow thuggery to occur, sir. Lastly, he misses a pretty blatant handball then immediately gave a make up call. It was pretty obvious and reactionary refereeing gets you a 4 from me.
I had a good time watching this game after the LAG thing that happened. Colorado plays a really fun, up tempo style that was great for TV and bad for people with heart problems. I like the depth that the Sounders are cultivating in the midfield, the defense is rock solid again, and Hydra grew another head. I'll take it.