Last week Seattle came together and earned a win over a good team by vastly outplaying D.C. Then the team flew to Chicago, played to the level of their competition and were beaten 0-1 by the Fire. Perhaps overshadowed by the manner of their late game collapse was a very mundane effort, with few highlights and very little to be excited about. Flaws were on display, including poor midfield play, futile forward efforts, and a backline that was barely average. All of these things added up to the 2nd worst combined ratings for any Sounders game this year.
Harrison Shipp was the clear choice of the people for best Chicago player, with nearly 65 percent of the votes cast.
Realio: 7 (MOTM)
Let's get this out of the way quickly, and give man of the match to the guy who kept this game close throughout. Perkins had a stellar game, and Sounders are showcasing the best goalie performances in their MLS history.
It may be a side effect of Brad Evans not being on the field, but Perkins chose to go long almost exclusively this game. This took something away from the Sounder possession game, but it also forced Chicago to work through the defense to get shots.
I have Troy down for multiple great saves in this one. In the 6th minute there was a scramble after a free kick and he fearlessly pounced on it. Another save on Patrick Nyarko back post in the 19th minute showed he is ready to keep us in games when Stefan Frei is out. I noted two more fantastic saves, one in the 78th off a header that he fought through traffic for and a save in the 88th after Alonso whiffed on defense.
Perkins is more active coming out than we are used to seeing, and his step in the 32nd and 55th minutes were very aggressive. He utilized the punch very well, and I was happy with a very assertive punching clearance in the 20th minute. I am not sure there was much Perkins could have done on the game winner.
An average game from Remick showed the weakness in the Sounders attack when the central defense fails. Remick did very solid work all night in marking the dangerous Nyarko, but he was unable to affect the game with overlapping runs. Unlike against D.C. when Alonso covered for him, in this game when Remick drifted forward in attack it was Scott who covered. I am not sure why the tactical change, but I definitely noted much less attacking from Remick, even when the winger in front of him vacated the left side. Also, the ball wasn't rotated fast enough to take advantage of the overlapping run, so Dylan was left marking space for much of the game.
Remick showed good 1v1 defense in the 24th and 25th minutes to shut down his side and multiple times relied on his pace to close down Fire attacks. In the few times he did manage to get forward, he looked short more than long. His one cross found Barrett for a great volley on goal. In the 88th minute Remick calmly saved a great chance from Chicago by sliding without fouling the Fire attacker inside the 6.
Dylan was beat by Nyarko in the 19th and saved by Perkins, and the same player victimized him in the 39th when Remick was caught too far up field. On the game winning goal, I am unsure why Remick dropped so far to goal, and then didn't help Marshall more on the cut back.
Surrounded by a lot of "ok" performances, Marshall stood out with a quality defensive shift. Not only did he play his position well, but he was forced to cover many defensive miscues by the players around him.
Marshall consistently wins one-on-one battles all over the field and uses his brains to make up for a lack of burst speed. A prime example of this occurred in the 40th minute. In this play, Mike Magee passes a give and go, only Marshall actually runs the "go" part better than Magee, perfectly intercepting the pass inside the 6 yard box.
Chad won all of his aerial battles, and consistently shaded over to assist a struggling Scott to his left. This may have played into his poor passing numbers from the back, as he was forced multiple times into long diagonal passes to the front. Marshall had an inexplicable mistake in the 53rd minute where he stopped to complain during a live ball, and almost paid for it. He had a rough turnover in the 86th minute that turned into a dangerous chance as well.
Marshall was above average in this game, but still had a flawed performance. Our defense is much more solid when Marshall is not constantly chasing behind the other fullbacks.
This was a quiet outing on the ratings sheet for Scott, with not too many positive or negative marks. On the positive side Zach won some headers, and played average defense for much of the game.
In the 3rd minute Scott started a trend of giving up possession when pressured, and he followed this up with another in the 13th, both of which could have been catastrophic if not for the intervention of the defenders around and behind him.
Scott seemed to be out of position a lot, tucking in behind Remick and then being too slow to cover runners, forcing Marshall across. At times the Sounders had 3 of 4 fullbacks close to the left sideline. In the 30th minute I made a special note at just how out of position Zach was. Without proper defensive midfielder support, Scott just drifts out of shape and pulls other defenders with him in attempts to keep proper positioning.
Community: 6.82 (MOTM)
For much of the last few games the majority of the best chances have been either created or converted by one Tyrone Mears. While this is great for Tyrone, it's telling that the attack depends so much on the right back for creativity. Tyrone had a very eventful game on both sides of the ball.
The negative side of the sheet showed Mears struggling for much of this game to maintain his high standard of play. In the 3rd minute he failed to rotate and left Magee unmarked for an open header. In the 11th and 60th he had uncharacteristic passes out of bounds. He had a few wasted crosses and was outjumped badly for a header in the 79th.
On the plus side, Mears showed off the usual repertoire of offensive and defensive skills. Defensively he showed well stepping to a threat in the 12th minute, and again stopping a 1v1 chance expertly in the 35th. Offensively, Tyrone was obviously making an effort to support the attack, showing well in the 14th and 15th minute flurry of offense. His two free kicks (67', 82') were both great.
I have no idea why he is not the primary set piece taker by this point, he has shown wonderful ability and is goal-dangerous every time he steps over the ball. I love Mears' passion and leadership on and off the field.
As rejuvenated as I thought Pineda looked last week with the return of Alonso, this week he looked awful. There were some splashes of quality, but they were completely overwhelmed by a myriad of errors both physical and mental.
It didn't start off too badly for Gonzalo, who had a nice pass on goal to Neagle in the 14th that showed his ability to look forward. He did the same thing in the 53rd and was the only Sounder to consistently look vertical from the midfield. I marked Pineda down for an effective corner in the 64th minute as well.
Unfortunately, there was a plethora of negative marks, and they increased as the game went on. On five separate occasions I listed the word "slow" on my sheet. Gonzalo was slow to rotate, slow to pass the ball, and slow to move around the field. One time (minute 32) he was so sluggish a normal easy pass rolled out of bounds before he could reach it. Having a plodding, technical midfielder isn't a complete liability if the team can make up for it, but in this game that didn't happen.
Two plays were a microcosm of his game. In the first, Gonzalo makes a good supporting run to get wide open on the 6 yard box and gets a fortuitous bounce. He completely fumbles the ball away, failing to shoot, pass, or do anything positive. He mentally got to the right place, but physically was unable to produce. The second play was the fated free kick that ended it. He waves up the center backs, and then puts a weak tired ball short. Pineda even tried to support on the counter, but was too SLOW to help. He can't physically keep up, and wasn't able to do anything to offset this deficiency.
I don't think Alonso is fully healed or fit. He looked slow and tentative in this match, earning a below average MLS rating after turning in a much lower performance than we're used to.
In the 17th minute I saw a glimpse of old Ozzie, winning the ball in the midfield. His defense in the 23rd was stellar and he made a sliding save in the 47th minute that stopped a through ball that was on goal. Unfortunately other than some decent switching balls, this is all that I recorded for Alonso. He just completely disappeared in the second half and while playing good defense, didn't imprint anything on the game after intermission. What's more, he looked slow and tentative for the remainder of the game.
"Slow" was recorded for Pineda multiple times and the usually quick Alonso was guilty of the same; slow to cover for Remick in the 7th minute and again in the 23rd with pressure. He missed passes in the 27, 30, and 57th minutes that Ozzie doesn't normally miss.
I was very disappointed by this outing from Alonso, as we know how important his cover can be to the success of the entire team, from outside backs through midfield and to the forwards. Alonso just wasn't very good in this game, and he didn't look agile or healthy.
Thomas Bedinelli - (off 69')
Thomas earned an average score this week. I think he did a very good job trying to wade through a tough defense that was not stretched vertically and was allowed to sit on the midfielders throughout. In the 61st minute I counted 4 defenders collapsing on Thomas, completely enveloping him and forcing a pass.
Much of the game was similar, with Thomas getting few opportunities to open up the opponents. Thomas did display exceptional control in various spots, the best being a goal kick trap in the 10th minute that Neagle could only dream of. Thomas consistently tried to press the attack, but continually found little/no support. In the 21st minute he surged forward only to see that once again the formation had left him few options. I noted him quitting on a play in the 49th minute which is unacceptable.
Thomas did have a nice chest pass to Roldan which resulted in a shot and also had a credible shout for a penalty. The young players don't dive which I like, but they also don't sell fouls either, and in this case a bit of argument may have helped his case. I respect that the call didn't go his way and the Sounder winger didn't whine about it. He lost possession some and seemed stumped on how to break the wall of defense in front of him. Overall Thomas had a solid but unspectacular game.
Cristian Roldan - (off 83')
Roldan had the most comments of any player this week, both in the positive and negative column.
On the bad side I noted Cristian's continued lack of control on passes, often being forced out of quality positions due to bad touch. In the 10th minute he lost his mark and then ball watched. I noticed this multiple times, where the young player was an observer and not a participant in the game. He needs to stay dialed in! Like others in this game, Roldan quit on defense (22'). His poor control and passing led to many turnovers, and he shouldn't try to take on 4 guys (minute 41 which led to a possession loss). In the 52nd minute he lost a pass and committed a foul trying to retrieve it in a very rookie play.
Even though he had many mistakes, Cristian filled the stat book with enough positives to offset them. In the 13th minute he showed defensive acuity, helping in the center to win a ball, and he continued to drop in and help the struggling Pineda. Multiple times Roldan worked a good series with Thomas, and he had a great run and cross in the 25th minute.
Cristian is very athletic and wins more headers than most his size, the best being a flick to Barrett for a chance in the 38th. Roldan's best moment of the game came in the 44th after a layoff where he struck a rocket topspin volley that went off the crossbar after having beat the Fire keeper. Unfortunately the notes for Roldan get sparse after 50 or so minutes, and it's a shame he still doesn't have the fitness to go a full 90. In hindsight, Roldan coming off in the 83rd was a tactical and technical change that failed.
Neagle has underperformed most of this season and against the Fire he looked listless and uninvolved. He failed to do much in the few times he did see the ball, such as winning a header in the 8th minute that he unsurprisingly didn't finish. A mirror image of last week where he had a wide open Thomas and went near post on his own occurred in the 16th minute; this time Thomas as the distributor missed a great Neagle run by airmailing his cross.
Lamar had a speculative long shot in the 25th minute and a nice flick to Barrett in the 36th. In the 40th minute Neagle stayed on his feet while being shoulder pulled in the box and maybe should have tried to draw the pk.
Neagle missed an over the top ball that had him on goal in the 14th, he had numerous passes out of bounds or to the other team, and generally did more harm than good when in possession. In the 59th minute I saw him stop at the top of the 18 on defense and just watch the play unfold around him, which included players from the Chicago side running by him into scoring position. At this point I don't know what to say, this guy is struggling and no amount of history or hometown love can really justify the playing time he is getting based on my ratings.
Chad Barrett - (off 65')
After being a Barrett believer since his return, I was rewarded with a lousy performance from the Seattle striker. The single striker role without service is a thankless job, and Chad was very ineffective.
I noted good hold up play from Barrett to bring up the offensive support in the 1st,7th,24th,and 41st minutes, however I also noted loss of possession in hold up play in the 4th,8th,23rd,and 62nd. While better than some up top with their back to the goal, these are by no means good numbers for a target striker. You can take some good with the bad as long as people are running off the target and it amounts to something when he doesn't lose possession (think Adi) but for the Sounders very little came from this.
Barrett did some good things in this one, such as flick the ball successfully to Thomas in the 6th. He made good runs and was rewarded infrequently. Chad's best moment came on a beautiful Remick cross, where Barrett turned a great volley on target in the 37th.
It's apparent that Barrett isn't 90 fit, and he stopped showing up in my book before half time. Subbing him off in the 65th minute may have been too late, as he was ineffective after the first 40 minutes.
Andy Craven (65')
Other than a nice volley try 2 minutes after subbing on, and a holdup play that resulted in a turnover in the 68th minute, Craven was invisible. Again, he only brought 2H's with him and failed to make his mark on the game or stake his claim to more playing time.
Andy Rose (69')
Oh Andy Rose played? He did nothing of note, other than infuriate me for not starting instead of Pineda.
Micheal Azira (83')
On the positive side, Azira had a few defensive recoveries. A lot of people want to blame him for the loss, and that is ok. I just happen to disagree, instead seeing the final scoring play a team breakdown of no less than 6 players failing to make the right combination of plays to save the point.
This referee earned upwards of an 8 rating for the first half, keeping control and letting a very tame game play out. Chapman started well, correctly stopping play for a head injury and preferring a stern talking to (like to Barrett and their center back for the scuffle before half) in lieu of harsher penalties.
The second half was an entirely different game. It seemed odd that Craven was the first player to get a card, for a fairly timed kick in the 80th judged too high since there was plenty of much more physical play that that was ignored. When you fail to penalize players for rough play early, it tends to catch up to you and usually ends badly for the skilled players on the Sounders side of the ball.
A prime example of this was Adailton being allowed to demolish Roldan including a dangerous elbow to the head in the 63rd minute that was a sending off last week yet resulted in no card (played on as advantage). This is especially important because he did finally receive a yellow for another very dangerous foul/karate kick to Pineda's face in the 84ththat I saw as borderline red as well. Either or the combination of both should have resulted in a sending off for the Chicago player that would have changed the entire game.
I started wondering around the 25th minute when Razvan Cocis would be getting his persistent infringement yellow card, and even after being warned for the fourth time in the 72nd minute the card still wasn't shown until the 82nd. After the yellow, Cocis had another card worthy hack on Alonso in the 86th minute that instead of a second card merited yet another "stern talking to".
Chapman had a very rough second half and missed some pretty big calls that would have changed the game. Allowing their defensive midfielder and one of the center backs to continually foul hard was both advantageous to Chicago and dangerous to both teams.
This game had a very low rating across the board which can be looked at two ways. The pessimist sees us playing a lousy team we should never lose to with any lineup and doing just that. An optimist sees us playing really badly with a depleted team and still almost getting a positive result. For me, the entire outlook I have on this game is dependent on whether this Alonso performance was an anomaly or not. So much the Sounders do is dependent on him anchoring the back line and without a strong game from Ozzie this team struggles mightily. We simply cannot currently succeed with midfield play that is below MLS average. This would be a great time for those lurkers out there to voice your opinions! (I see you!)