About 60% of the 225 raters said that Kei Kamara was the best Columbus Crew player in the Seattle Sounders loss over the weekend. Federico Higuain received support from 35% of voters. This was also the first time that each of Sigi Schmid's subs were rated by more than 90% of respondents. Sounder at Heart rater Realio's analysis follows.
After last week's game I was curious how the Sounders would play against an attacking team. Well we found out quickly that Columbus was a different breed of attack than anything seen this year. They came in numbers and overloaded the defense in waves.
Community - 7.15
Realio - 8 MOTM
Stefan played very well throughout this game, and always seemed to be in the right place to affect opportunities. Consistently attempts would go high and wide as Stefan made himself big, cut off the angles, and forced people to make poor shot selections.
One of my biggest complaints about the goalkeeping last year was that Frei never seemed to lift the team up with a great save when it was needed. No longer is this true. Frei now makes goal-saving plays multiple times a game, which is positive for him but a black mark on the defense. He showed this ability in the 57th, 73rd and 89th minute, and I don't think many in the league save two of these, let alone all three.
It might be a little crazy to award MOTM here since he gave up 3 goals but I was unable to pin any of these on Frei. The only real issues I had with Stefan's game were a bad choice to roll the ball in traffic to Pineda in the 38th and a rough clearance from an iffy Marshall pass in the 45th. On the goals against, other than maybe getting the team to step up quicker on the second, there was not much else Frei could have done. A goalie less skilled than Frei would have been in serious trouble. As goalie coach Tommy Dutra continues to work with Frei, the Sounders are showcasing one of the top MLS keepers.
Community - 5.65
Realio - 6
I am VERY begrudgingly giving Remick an "average" score this week and maybe only because my wife brought me ice cream as I was writing him up. I didn't see a lot to like and my scores added up to a very mundane 0.
I'm not sure what happened with Dylan this week. I am guessing it was some combination of the travel grind and Ethan Finlay. Finlay just crushed Remick multiple times in this game, most notably in the 53rd and 57th when he made Dylan look slow and lost.
Remick usually gives a lot of support to the attack and offers speed and overlapping consistency from the left. This was absent most of the game. I have Remick down with a few defensive actions, but pretty much no offensive contribution and he really struggled with Pappa in front of him. Part of this blame has to go to Marco who failed to utilize this overlap multiple times. It will be very interesting to see if the wind of change blows in a new (old) starter at left back next weekend.
Community - 5.19
Realio - 6
I wonder where the Marshall from last season went, as he seems to have disappeared from the earth. Chad's ratings are trending downward, and this was close to a "below MLS average" score. Again, I wonder if the travel is affecting these guys as some looked slow and tired. Marshall's best ratings this season came with Leo next to him, so perhaps he's still getting used to the new defensive shape of the back 4.
Something that doesn't usually happen with Marshall is bad man-marking, but he was caught out multiple times against Columbus. The worst was on the first goal, when Kamara just beat him to the spot and easily finished a header in front of Frei from 5 yards out. At other times Marshall was beat by Kamara, Higuain, and in the 57th badly by Finlay which should have resulted in another goal.
Marshall earned his average rating on the strength of some good 1v1 defense in the first half to help keep the game close, winning loads of headers (5) and then adding some offensive ability in the second half. I liked his distribution over the top to Neagle soon after Lamar came on. In the 86th minute Marshall found himself in the middle of a scrum in the offensive 18 and expertly flicked a pass back post that unfortunately wasn't finished.
Community - 5.54
Realio - 6
For the first time in a few games Evans wasn't the strongest player on the back line. He struggled mightily with the movement of Kei Kamara and Justin Meram and failed to impose his defensive will upon them for long stretches of the game.
Brad won headers and made some good recoveries, but the rest of his game was lacking. He seemed a step slow this week and was beat by people directly at goal multiple times. This is something the defense must work on, because they can't expect Frei to make 20 saves a game. In the 58th minute (Kamara) goal Brad was brutally turned by Meram and was directly responsible for the ensuing fallout. In the 74th Kamara again beat Evans to a header that could have been another goal. These were big mistakes, and something we haven't seen from Brad for a number of games.
I will give a lot of credit to the Crew for their game plan, execution and having a really good team, but our center defense did us no favors this week while making Columbus look amazingly dynamic in attack.
Community - 5.52
Realio - 7
Mears was the best of the back four on the day where everyone was mediocre and he earned a plus 8 in the notebook for a 7 rating.
Tyrone started off the game winning a corner, and I saw him overlapping consistently and efficiently throughout. I counted 5 really dangerous attacking runs with 4 of these complemented by good crosses. Mears was really pressing forward in this game and worked well around Rose to create passing lanes to the width.
Not everything was perfect though, and I noted there were times when Tyrone seemed out of options when on attack. Blindly dribbling to the 18 and crossing into a sea of defense ala "The Trialist" isn't always the best idea. Mears needs to figure out ways to vary his runs forward, whether it's attacking into the box diagonally like Yedlin used to do or changing the angle on crosses.
I was stoked to see Mears get the opportunity to take a free kick and corner and respond with great service on both. I really liked what I saw out of Tyrone this week and hope that this sort of play can translate into a more effective fullback system for the Sounders.
Andy Rose (off 70)
Community - 5.10
Realio - 6
Last week Rose had a 6 that played like a 7; this week he has a 6 that played like a 5. What's that mean? It means that Andy Rose was completely lost for long patches of this game. He just doesn't know what to do on the wing offensively and when he gets presented with the ball and space, he lacks ideas on how to effectively attack. This was evidenced by 2 weak shots and a poor cross in the first 20 minutes when Columbus was leaving the entire right side completely open for him. The amount of space he was afforded had me wishing we had a guy who was more assertive and direct in the game who could have used it. (Oh hi 253)
While Rose wasn't much on offense, he did some nice things that I'd love to see other wingers do. First, Rose puts an ever-willing defensive effort in every game, and this was evident immediately in the 7th minute where he was in the box blocking shots. As noted, Rose isn't a maestro with the ball at his feet but he makes tremendous off-the-ball runs and opens space for others, and this spatial awareness helped let Mears have a good game overlapping.
Tactically this was a rough game for the Sounders and Rose seemed pretty out of place on the wing where his strengths were minimized against Columbus.
Community - 5.40
Realio - 6
I wasn't impressed with the center of the field against Columbus and Pineda had a very uneven game. I scored Gonzalo a +3 and he had the most comments of any player.
On the plus side Pineda touched the ball almost 100 times and had an 87% pass completion percentage which is fantastic. Gonzalo had some nice passes throughout the game and I was impressed with his switching of the point of attack, but one of his miscues was a fairly egregious square ball that almost turned into a goal against. I liked the free kick he took, and he had a nice corner as well. The highlight of the game for Pineda was the perfect chip assist that ended in the controversial Dempsey goal where Gonzalo dropped a great over-the-top ball onto Martins, beating the offside trap. Pineda might have had another highlight on a great strike from distance but his shot deflected off an offside Oba and waved off.
The bad things from Gonzalo were mostly variants of playing awful defense. I have notes such as "no pressure on midfield players" and "what was Pineda doing on the goal" (49th min). The third goal was also indicative of the problems in midfield as neither he nor Ozzie Alonso were anywhere to be found.
Both the back 4 and the middle 4 were quite out of sorts at times and Pineda definitely had his part in that. This led to giant gaps that the Crew players continually found and took advantage of.
Community - 5.33
Realio - 6
The way I feel about how Marshall played is similar to how I feel about Alonso's play. Both are great, Best XI-in-league types who are suddenly playing average and it is confusing. Alonso wasn't very good in this one. Gone were the duels and tackles won, the successful dribbles, and the defensive fire that we are used to seeing. Instead I have notes like "no pressure in midfield". This is almost unheard of from Ozzie. I am not sure he even committed a foul, again very un-Alonso like.
Osvaldo still does some things very well, such as completing a high percentage of passes (96%!) but these passes aren't jump-starting the attack. Instead, this percentage is only making it painfully obvious when he does turn the ball over, like happened three times all on bad-decision back passes. It just so happens that right in front of the back 4 is where both Federico Higuain and Alonso's bad back-passes ended up.
I hope it was just tired legs, and tactical mis-alignment that forced this showing from Alonso. Often in this game I saw both Pineda and Alonso side by side, and this allowed Columbus to "break through" the midfield and have numbers on goal. I think the Sounders work best when there is depth between the central midfielders, and when they become square to each other bad things can happen.
Marco Pappa (off 62)
Community - 5.31
Realio - 7
Pappa built fairly well off of a good outing last week and contributed a lot to the attack. I think Marco was the most effective midfielder, and he had some nice interchanges with the forwards while also still being blown around like wind to pop up in dangerous spots.
I like that Pappa continues to try shots from distance, and hope that eventually he is successful. This is something that Neagle has shown the ability to do and we can definitely use a more multi-faceted attack that forces defenses to key on more than just our forwards. Marco earned another assist this week and almost had a few others. Twice were over-the-top chips to Dempsey runs that put the Sounders forward on goal in good spots. It is very important to the success of the team to have midfielders willing to look up and release the forwards, preventing the opposing fullbacks from just stepping up completely and clogging the internal passing lanes. Marco has shown this ability well in 2015.
Against Columbus Marco didn't play a ton of defense, which led to a lot of issues as Remick struggled to pick up the slack behind him. Speaking of Remick, I would love for Pappa to reward his overlaps more. I feel like often a good run goes wanting as Marco looks internally. We could stand to have more dynamic offensive options and shouldn't be ignoring any open man.
Community - 6.59
Realio - 6
For at least one week, Obafemi Martins showed he may be mortal. He is still an amazing player, but was unable to impose his will upon the Columbus defense.
I liked the great pass to Dempsey in the 43rd minute, and this was one of the best passing displays I have seen from Oba (90+ %). He followed this up in the 55th minute with another great pass, this time to Marco Pappa. Oba even played defense, working hard to clear a defensive corner in the 70th minute by playing around 2 guys and starting a counter. I think Oba should have scored on the Pineda chip, and may have finished his own rebound had Dempsey not been there to steal goal No. 2.
I think Oba is a bit like Pappa in that he doesn't always pass to the open man. In the 45th minute Rose made a tremendous run but wasn't rewarded by Martins who instead tried to dribble past three people. I noticed a few other spots where Oba doesn't seem confident in some of the players around him. His bad touch turnover in the 57th minute ended up being goal 3 for Columbus. A lot happened in the counter attack, but it did originate with a rough play from Oba.
This wasn't Oba's best game. He can often magically pull an amazing goal out of nothing, but unfortunately on the night the magic didn't happen.
Community - 7.83 (MotM)
Realio - 7
The rating in the notebook was borderline between 7 and 8 and I elected to go with the 7. Clint didn't do much wrong in this game, except maybe missing Pappa in the 43rd minute for a nice goal-scoring chance.
Multiple times Clint put Oba in good spots, and there were a fleeting number of the expected interchanges between the DP forwards. GOALS CHANGE GAMES, and in this game Clint had a spectacular goal and a workmanlike goal. Both count the same, though, and both are pretty for different reasons. The amount of skill exhibited to hit the left-footed, 25-yard curler off the post and in is fantastic. I love seeing something outside the 6-yard box scored and this just shows how deadly Dempsey can be with time on the ball. The second goal may have been offside, but as I have pointed out before no one gets into position to score faster than Clint and here is another case of making no mistake on a chance to finish. Dempsey had a few other decent looks with headers and over-the-top chips that he wasn't able to capitalize on, but he remained active throughout the game.
Lamar Neagle (on 62')
Community - 5.65
Realio - 6
I think this game needed Neagle early on, as it was pretty apparent that Columbus was willing to let Rose go on the right. That is the sort of space that fits Neagle's skill set perfectly. I was even happy to see an immediate offside penalty called on Lamar upon subbing in, as this showed his willingness to stretch the field. In the 72nd minute Neagle had a great turn and cross that created a dangerous chance. There were a few issues and he didn't play much defense but this game needed more Neagle.
Chad Barrett (on 69')
Community - 4.94
Realio - 6
A Chad Barrett sighting! Barrett was the only person in the book with no negative marks, and I really like most of what Chad brought to the game. His movement was strong, and within five minutes his activity to keep the play alive ended up in the 2nd goal for SSFC. What I really liked from Barrett was he gave options other than a long cross to Mears. Where Rose just sort of clears out and gets lost, Barrett made diagonal runs to the near touchline to give Tyrone a shorter option. This also then gave Chad opportunity for a quick cross from the end line. I liked the creativity here and it presented a new angle instead of the same looping cross from the overlapping fullback.
NONE - N/A
Not sure how I would have used a 3rd sub other than maybe go 3 in the back and try to overload the mid a bit more (push Neagle high while bringing in someone like Roldan for Remick). Sigi's early subs were good tactical changes and I am not sure it would have been anything other than water under the bridge and would have been enough value in making another change.
Community - 5.77
Realio - 7
Jurisevic was pretty consistent in this game and seemed to control the game well. He didn't need to overuse his whistle, but he called enough to keep the need to display cards minimal. I thought the yellows to all players were warranted.
I would have liked to see Jimenez get a yellow for 35th minute tackle on Oba as well as the Meram foul later in the game. I have no idea how Tchani didn't get a yellow for persistent fouling, and feel like teams are just going to whack the Sounders repeatedly (Resident Evil: Juninho, Sarvas, Chara, Mix, Tchani) until the referees do something about it. A lot of referees would have done much worse though, and I scored him a 7.
In re-watching this game I noticed a lot more faults than during the original viewing. There are some pretty big holes in the shape that need to be fixed ASAP. When Oba has a slow night, we need someone else to step up and make space for the offense to function. I hope that some of the issues with the spacing and defense can be fixed by resting players and a nice chalk talk. I have faith that the training ground / tape room will be very beneficial this week.