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Sounders vs. Earthquakes, Player ratings: Marco Pappa turns in MotM performance

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Not a lot of great performances to pick from, though.

Mike Russell/Sounder at Heart

It was going to take a lot to get me excited about soccer after the midweek fracas, and unfortunately losing 0-2 to a lousy San Jose team didn't cut it. There were no standout players but neither did anyone play overly lousy. This was just a slow paced, sloppy game that showed holes in the Sounders' depth and magnified the tactical problems the team has when missing multiple quality players. The Sounders need to find ways to create chances when the big-money guys are out of the lineup. Playing a lot of games in a short time with injuries, suspension and call ups is going to reveal our depth and talent.

RATINGS:

Stefan Frei - 6
Community - 6.2 (MotM)

Our keeper barely had to make a save all game, yet he gave up 2 goals.

There were a few positives that I noted during Saturday's match. I like the confidence Frei shows using his feet. I noted him for 4 good moments controlling and passing the ball, keeping the possession for the home team. After Evans subbed off, Stefan was called upon much less to use his foot skill.

The one notable save came in the 71st minute and Frei covered his near post well. I would have liked to see Stefan follow the ball in the 85th minute when it dropped in the 6-yard box for a semi-dangerous chance from Tommy Thompson.

I think if Frei somehow manages a super human save on the Nyassi shot the Sounders probably prevail. San Jose just didn't look dangerous at all, but even though we have seen him make great saves this year it wasn't to be. I arrived at an average score, because I think an average MLS goalie ends up with this same score line.

Dylan Remick - 6
Community - 5.6

Remick had a fairly solid game in this one, having some success both in defending his side of the field and getting forward to assist the attack.

Dylan had good overlapping runs in the 6th, 10th, and 32nd, but seemed to get lost in the second half as people tired. On this third run, he managed a shot on goal which was created from a dangerous chance.

Remick kept Shea Salinas onside in the 7th minute for a nervy moment and was sucked way inside in the 28th when San Jose scored their first. The entire defense seemed to rotate a lot more than usual with the different lineup in front of them. I am not sure if this was by design or not, it is really hard to tell right now where specific players are supposed to be shape-wise. At times, Remick was playing like a wide midfielder. There were almost no notable actions in the second half as play slowed.

Chad Marshall - 7
Community - 5.9

After the short rest I was actually surprised to see Marshall get the start, but I thought Chad was the best defender on the night. He had good 1v1 defense throughout, completely nullifying Adam Jahn for most of the match.

Marshall was dominant in the air against San Jose, winning 6 headers on defense and getting on the end of some offensive crosses as well. In the 24th was perhaps his best attacking chance, putting a header on goal after staying up after a free kick. Marshall was forced across to clean up for Scott after a big mistake, but the veteran center back handled it well.

A few issues I have with Chad's defense showed themselves in this game again. Marshall was slow to rotate to Jahn in the 8th minute, and a number of times he seems to play too deep. This keeps a lot of pressure on the defense and allows the opposing team to make so much space. I would like to see Chad stay higher and more cohesive with the rest of the back four. Twice Marshall completely whiffed, missing an attacking player: First by going to ground and missing Salinas in the 71st and then allowing Thompson behind in the 87th.

Brad Evans - 6 (off 45')
Community - 5.8

It is a shame that Brad was only able to go half of the game, because he looked solid in the time he played. His recovery speed and game awareness is a given now, and he is playing very smart defense. Evans was perhaps too confident coming off the great showing last MLS match, and lost the ball dangerously in the 9th minute while trying to dribble out of trouble instead of pass. Taking on two guys and losing the ball on the wrong side of the field made for a dangerous moment in the back.

While on the pitch Evans played well, making a great recovery on Salinas in the 19th minute that I really liked seeing because he tracked the run into the box, and then made a slide tackle that only had a chance to get the ball (not the man). This kind of tackle is very efficient, and doesn't allow a referee to imprint upon the game because there is no physical contact between players.

Brad got a head on a corner in the 13th minute, and I really hope he and Marshall can start to be more productive on set piece offense.

Tyrone Mears - 6
Community - 6.0

Mears was as average as everyone else on the back line on Saturday, unable to find a way to impact the game positively. He was beat a few times by the dangerous Salinas, most notably in the 19th minute. Tyrone was even nutmegged midway through the second half, but nothing came of the mistake.

I liked seeing Tyrone get more chances at free kick service, although his 23rd minute effort went right into the wall. What is great about Mears is his hustle and desire, and on this play after taking the free kick on the left side he eventually ended up with the ball on the right and served in a great ball to Marshall.

The Sounders as a whole looked lost in how to attack the Earthquakes and tended to resort to chunking in crosses throughout the game in hopeful attempts to find someone in the box. Mears was as guilty of this as anyone off of overlapping runs, and he should make the adjustment that DeAndre Yedlin did and start dribbling at goal.

Cristian Roldan - 6
Community - 5.5

Cristian is showing that he belongs on the pitch against MLS level talent but I am not sure where. He shows all the physical tools needed to succeed - touch, speed, agility, control, as well as the mental - vision, toughness, and soccer I.Q. Unfortunately it is all very raw at this point in his career and there are a lot of baby steps being taken.

There is a lot to like from Roldan's performance last weekend, and I was pleased that he looks at least competent when in the middle of the field. Some players get lost in the middle and play much better with the sideline to cut down their options; Roldan knows where to be in space and it showed. Cristian is very athletic, and wins a surprisingly large number of headers for a short player in the middle of the pitch.  I didn't see a lot of spectacularly flashy moves, but Roldan completed a very high percentage of his passes and moved the ball efficiently.

Roldan still looks to need more fitness, and almost all of his negative marks came in the second half as he tired. He wasted a great chance in the 53rd minute on a breakaway trying a hopeful but nearly impossible angle volley. There were 4 more turnovers in the second half although he minimized their impact with hustle to either regain possession or get back on defense.

Micheal Azira - 7
Community - 6.1

As I said before, I am not sure where anyone in front of the back four was supposed to be playing tactically. I assumed that Azira was the more defensive of the middle Sounders and he did a good job breaking up San Jose attacks throughout.

On the positive side of the book I noted multiple times Azira stepped up to win the ball in the midfield and start an attack. He had some recoveries when it seemed that the defense would be overrun and he seemed to be consistently on the right side of tackles. It is nice to see him regain some of the form he showed earlier this year, and I had a special note of how calm he looked bringing the ball out of traffic in the 70th minute. This was missing the last few games and was a detriment to possession. Azira was the best passer of the ball with over 90% completion rate.

Micheal doesn't have a lot of speed and this is an issue if he takes bad angles on defense. I also noticed a few times his bad habit of heading the ball to the middle on defense. I rated him above average because I think he did the best of the central midfield trio and looked to be the one whose movement off the ball was an attempt to keep shape while the others kept fluid positioning.

Andy Rose - 7 (off 78th)
Community - 5.3

Andy Rose had a surprising number of positive marks in the notebook this week, ending with a plus seven. Rose didn't turn the ball over very often, keeping very high pass completion numbers while being one of the few people to either run or pass vertically. An over-the-top pass to Pappa in the 2nd minute and a run in the 65th were evidence that Rose no longer only looking to pass square or backwards and will stretch the field.

The back heel to an overlapping Remick in the 15th was Dempsey-esque and he had a great turn in the box in the 34th that won a corner. It is nice to see Andy's game getting more dynamic this way as he becomes more comfortable with the ball at his feet. I would have liked to see Andy impact the game more and also support the lone forward by maintaining a higher line.

Unfortunately Rose isn't going to be a creator and depends on others to make things happen around him. Without multiple options in the box his late runs tend to go wanting. At this point in the season Rose looks to be a dependable, solid player but not someone whose dynamic play will unlock a defense.

Thomas Bedinelli - 6 (off 60')
Community - 5.1

Still battling fitness issues, Thomas is also battling many of his teammates as he attempts to integrate into the Sounders lineup. Often times he and the rest of the squad are just plain on different pages. I believe this can be attributed to lack of training ground time, and he should work on understanding the players around him.

With the ball at his feet, Thomas has the ability to design creative play that is so lacking within other midfielders. He is good at pressuring vertically and immediately won the ball in the 4th minute off this high press. I liked seeing a checking run and layoff pass to a teammate in the first 15 minutes and enjoy watching the easy control and confidence Thomas has on the ball. He works isolation 1v1's well and beating Sanna Nyassi for two free kicks in the 22nd and 23rd minutes also earned Nyassi a yellow card. (This should have been important).

While I love the confidence, I am not sure taking a free kick with your non-dominant foot like Thomas did in the 6th minute is a great idea when there are Pappa/Mears options on the team. It was predictably poor. Also showing perhaps too much faith in personal ability Thomas dribbled into trouble and lost the ball in the 12th, 30th, and 31st minutes, with each turnover easily avoided by making a simple pass to a teammate. While I understand being frustrated at turnovers, I would prefer Thomas channel this into playing defense to get the ball back instead of watching and gesticulating. I am not sure yet how Thomas fits into this team.

Marco Pappa - 7 (MOTM)
Community - 5.8

Both games against San Jose have produced very low scores and a 7 rating being the score earned by the Man of the Match. This time, it is Marco Pappa who earns a rather dubious distinction of being slightly better than a lot of average players.

On the plus side of the book Pappa was the creative catalyst and set up others consistently. An over the top pass to Remick in the 10th minute almost had an assist and his cross to Rose in the 34th was perfect. Shouldering the creation load was difficult against an active San Jose defense, but Pappa consistently showed skill and desire to push the ball vertically. His skill vs. two players in the 37th minute made a few Earthquakes look silly, but unfortunately - like the rest of the game - didn't amount to anything on the scoreboard. Set pieces were taken well this week by Pappa.  We just need someone on the other end to do something with them.

The reason this score is barely above average MLS level is a large amount of mistakes. Miss touch turnovers, roaming out of position, not tracking back on defense, and bad passing all showed up in my notebook for Marco. He got lost inside on the Nyassi goal and unfortunately flubbed a breakaway pass that may have put Roldan in on goal with a chance to tie it in the second half.  However, it is hard to blame Pappa too much for losing the ball when others weren't moving for him very coherently.

Lamar Neagle - 5
Community - 5.0

The yoyo that is Neagle scoring is back down this week, after another very underwhelming performance at lone forward. It looked like Lamar tired early, and never seemed to get into the game after a decent shot in the 12th minute from distance.

This is hopefully the last time SSFC tries to play Neagle alone up top. He just does not seem to perform very well at any of the attributes you need when working as a solo forward. Lamar wants to turn and run with everything, and unless he is getting long balls over the top from Pappa, this lineup just wasn't set up to play that way. Instead, Lamar was asked to come back to the ball, hold it, and bring the midfield up to him. This is something that doesn't seem to be in his skillset. Not only does he take bad angles to the ball, but he doesn't check hard enough to make space, nor does he possess the touch needed to control the passes he receives. I counted 6 failed attempts to hold the ball up and numerous other times the attack ended forcing the ball forward.

Enough with this idea that Neagle can play with his back to the goal, if we must play him up top without another striker then adjustments need to be made to limit him running at his own goal. This isn't an easy thing to do (no matter how simple Oba and Clint make it look) and it's unfair to ask Lamar to continue to do something he only fails at.

SUBS:

Zach Scott (45') - 6
Community - 5.5

Scott came in to run a 45-minute shift next to Marshall and did well. It is a nice luxury that Scott isn't a starter but can give starter-like shifts in small dosages. In this game, there weren't a ton of defensive marks in the second half but Scott took a much higher line than Evans. I am not sure if that's by design but it does lead to a bit more scary moments (like the 50th where his desperate lunge prevented a chance). I have learned to take the over-aggressiveness of Scott and live with it, as long as it doesn't adversely affect the score line. He did lose Tommy Thompson once late but nothing came of it. Side note: Why the heck doesn't that kid play more? He looked great.

Aaron Kovar (60') -- 6
Community - 5.4

I was pleased to see Kovar get a lengthy run out in this game, and I feel he has really worked hard at S2 to be worthy of the chance. He rewarded the Kovar fans with great work rate and some very quality moments. His control is terrific and the service he provides is really special as long as there are appropriate targets to get on the other end. Unfortunately there weren't a lot of chances for him to pick someone out and he forced a cross to no one in the 66th minute. In the 80th Aaron got forward on a nice run but seemed to run out of ideas and lost the ball out of bounds. I hope as he matures he understands better when to force the issue and when to keep possession.

I think Kovar demonstrated average MLS ability and knowing his work ethic I am positive he will learn and develop from this time with the first team. He will need to work on some decision making if he is going to press for winger minutes.

Victor Mansaray (78') - 5
Community - 4.5

Unlike Kovar, Victor Mansaray looked outmatched by the pace of the MLS game. Multiple times he waited too long before making a decision and was dispossessed or out maneuvered. There is a ton of skill in being able to decide quickly and correctly what to do with the ball before you get it, and it was obvious to me that Victor was used to having much more time to make decisions. He needs to work at getting quicker on the ball and adapt to the faster paced S1 game.

Mansaray did have the best holdup and turn of the entire game by a forward in the 83rd minute and looks suited for this role in the future.

REFEREE

Juan Guzman - 6
Community - 5.8

Guzman came in and had a very average performance with the whistle. After missing Rose being kicked in the 9th and ignoring a Wynne high elbow on Remick that is a PK fairly often in MLS in the 10th I thought we were in for another Marrufo game, but the play settled and there were few controversial calls.

I think he called the right hand ball in the 21st and there was good flow to the game. The yellow to Nyassi after fouling Thomas twice in a minute was appropriate.  Scott earned his card as did Thomas and I could have gone for a repetitive foul card on Stewart but I understand he calmed down after a warning. The big call I think Guzman missed was a second yellow NOT being shown to Nyassi for his bad foul on Aaron Kovar. This is a yellow every game and I don't know if Guzman just didn't want to pull the subsequent red or Kovar got up too quickly and nicely instead of rolling around or what. Either way the Sounders should have played the last 15 minutes of the game up a player. After seeing RSL's Morales get away with a similar foul and not receiving a second yellow on Sunday I guess this is an average MLS ref job.

***

If this team was healthy and able to play first-choice lineups for the next month I would wager that the Sounders could open a sizable lead on the rest of the league. Unfortunately I assume we will be subject to many patchwork formations and rosters in the near future. I hope we will maximize our chances and see a few players step up while starters are out.