First off, the Sounders' disheartening 0-1 loss in Montreal was awful. I couldn't even stand to go to the comment section on this website because I knew I would see the inevitable #sigiout #garthout etc and these "blow up everything" comments are things I just can't handle. While I am not opposed to adding more parts to this team, I am against making a reactionary move that threatens our future success by "band-aid"ing a current issue. It is clear that the current team is struggling and while competitive, won't earn many points as is. Fortunately, the biggest holes on the roster based on my ratings are at forward, wide midfield, and center back. We just so happen to be getting a USMNT center back and 2 of the top 10 players in the league at forward returning. This immediately fills 3 giant holes in the lineup. We also get a keeper that changes our style and the entire team setup will be different. Will we be awesome? I don't know, but I just need to see the team at full strength before I demand movement. At this point, the wide midfield positions are up for grabs, with no shortage of suitors.
Editor's note: A whopping 56% of the 144 raters felt that Laurent Ciman was the best of the Impact players. Piatti came in second with only 15% of raters supporting him.
Community - 6.39 (MotM)
Realio - 6
I wasn't enthused about Perkins' performance this week. As he gets more playing time it only heightens my appreciation of what Stefan Frei brings to this team. That being said, I think Troy is a very good backup and makes our keeper depth as strong as I can remember.
Troy started off the game with a poor clearance in the 5th minute. He was beat badly on a Laurent Ciman free kick in the 15th that luckily went wide. One big issue I am seeing with Perkins is he is rooted to his line. Just like last week when he was very slow to step to Doyle, I noticed multiple times where Troy just didn't come out or reacted late. This was apparent in the 29th and even more drastically in the 45th where he fell asleep as Mears was attempting to head back to him. There needs to be quicker decision making from the keeper in leaving his line aggressively.
Perkins isn't going to possess the ball like Frei, and he settled for long hopeful clearances in the general direction of the forward(s). He tried to further spread the field in the 13th with a quick punt that at least stretched Montreal. I noted a number of saves, however there weren't a lot of great Impact chances to test the Sounder keeper. The big play (and reason for a rating this high) was presented in the 21st as Dominic Oduro easily passed Scott and was put in free on goal. Perkins came out assertively and stopped an almost certain score. This was a fantastic save and kept the team in the running for a point.
Troy Perkins isn't going to wow us with possession or distribution (only 3 short passes), but he is capable of making a big save intermittently. The fact that there has been a drop off is more a compliment to the skills of Stefan Frei than an indictment of Perkins.
Leo Gonzalez (off 72')
Community - 5.31
Realio - 5
Midway through the first half this was a 4 or worse rating, however Leo settled down and played solid defense after about minute 30 before being injured and subbed off. Unfortunately, Gonzalez is starting to show his age, and is encountering injury any time he plays substantial minutes.
Against Montreal Leo started out aggressively, often venturing into the attacking third. The highlight was a beautiful 6th minute cross that found Barrett open around the six yard box. Unfortunately it was not converted. This aggressiveness meant Gonzales was caught up field multiple times, putting stress on the center backs. When pressured, Leo preferred to just chunk aimless long balls out of the defense. Multiple rough controls, getting beat (11') cynical fouls (14', 27', 29'), etc. all showed a very below average outing for the Costa Rican. Perhaps the most egregious mistake occurred in the 21st minute when he dropped way too far on a counter attack, keeping everyone onside including Oduro who forced a fantastic save from Perkins.
As I mentioned, Leo settled down and got back to his usual solid 1v1 defense especially after getting a stern warning from referee Penso for persistent fouls. This was by far his worst performance of the year. When he was forced out early, it changed the entire SSFC subbing pattern which couldn't have helped the result.
Community - 5.94
Realio - 6
If Brad Evans is the sheriff, Chad is the Fire Marshall, because these last few weeks with Scott next to him shows Marshall just running around putting out fires. When Marshall himself makes a rare mistake, the entire defense collapses, such as his awful positioning in the 21st minute that allowed Oduro behind him to make easy work of the two defenders back. Luckily in this case Perkins was up to the task. Chad was beat over the top by Ignacio Piatti from a great Donadel switch in the 31st minute that would have been very dangerous had the Montreal player been able to control the pass. This I attributed to Marshall shading well over to support Scott throughout the game. He was beat by Dilly Duka in the 39th minute while uncharacteristically leaving his feet on defense, but nothing came of it.
Marshall cleaned up a lot of mistakes by teammates in this one. His defensive position and header on the 20th minute were great and his sliding save on Duka in the 59th was some excellent desperation defending. Marshall was in fine position supporting Scott for most of the game and turned in an average performance with a few flaws.
Community - 4.89
Realio - 4
I guess this is a four. I didn't have him down for a single positive mark which I find pretty insane. I'm sure he did something decent, but I sure didn't note much more than USL level defending. I think Damion Lowe may be an upgrade at this point.
On the negative side Scott was all over the map positionally. Marshall continually had to offset Zach's roaming defense, and often times this left the back four disjointed and easily abused. He was horribly beat in the 21st by Piatti and Dominic Oduro, and followed that mistake with another in the 25th where he was too slow and kept people onside. Montreal speed especially tortured Scott and I counted no less than 5 times Oduro made him look silly on the way to creating good chances. Oduro, not known for his aerial prowess, beat Scott in a header duel in the 48th and when Zach was just being completely outclassed up field in the 61st minute. This latter mistake looked to be a sure 1v1 for the Impact player except for an amazing defensive recovery from Alonso.
These major blunders were bad, but the most punitive mistake from Scott was completely losing Ciman on the fateful free kick, allowing the Montreal player a free header. Unlike Sounders strikers, Laurent Ciman made no mistake and buried the shot to keep all three points in Canada.
These late game mistakes may be an indication that Scott is tiring. He is no longer doing the things that he used to be proficient at, and is still making the usual blunders. I really appreciate what Scott has brought to the team in the past, but there appears to be no other conclusion than Zach appears to be declining in productivity and Evans can't return soon enough.
Community - 6.25
Realio - 6
Mears was a hard player to rate this week, since a majority of the marks I had in the book were not overly positive or negative, but general commentary on his playing style and position.
Many factors have changed his role lately: Evans being gone, keeper less inclined to play short, 4-3-3 lineup, less midfield support in front of him, etc. Unfortunately these are forcing away any dynamic play from Tyrone's playbook. Mears is still touching the ball often, but he is choosing to go backwards much, much more often than earlier in the season. I counted SEVEN backwards passes (behind him to Marshall or Perkins). This is telling in a number of ways. It shows the lack of options that Roldan and others were providing forward for Tyrone, as well as a lack of confidence in the positioning of teammates as options. Since all of the passes to Perkins are getting boomed out of there for a 10/90 ball up front, these passes backwards are essentially turnovers, but in a less dangerous spot than where Mears has the ball.
Tyrone took 5 free kicks in this one, with the 37th and 59th being very poor and the 53rd and 90th good. The best one was in the 14th minute and was fantastic; a perfect ball that the anemic SSFC set piece attack was unable to capitalize on. Mears played steady this game but was unable to do much of anything going forward.
Community - 4.80
Realio - 6
Rose turned in another average performance. Andy didn't do anything particularly amazing, but ran his butt off all over the field trying to help the undermanned midfield trio. He started this off covering back in the 3rd minute, and then made a solid forward run in the 6th displaying a willingness to cover large swaths of field.
A great example of what Rose brings to the team was evident in the 17th minute. Andy traveled all the way across the field displaying really tough 1v1 defense on the ball, before winning possession and starting a counter attack that while promising, died when it reached a forward.
Rose would continue to tirelessly run two ways box to box in a mainly defensive shape role for most of the game, attempting to support the others. This worked infrequently, and led to Rose being invisible for long stretches, especially in the second half. When he was involved, Andy was flicking on balls, tracking players on defense and being a facilitating non-creative member of the team. Quick thinking did lead Rose to a fast 56th minute throw-in to Barrett leading to another squandered offensive chance by Neagle.
Andy didn't have a large impact with the ball at his feet, but his spacing and fitness (especially in the second half) was beneficial to the defensive shell the team was trying to hold.
Community - 6.20
Realio - 7 (MotM)
Alonso wasn't the best player on the field (that was Ciman) but he was the best Sounder by some margin. Since he has returned from injury his play has been decidedly up and down, and this game was full of positive marks for the Sounders' defensive mid. In fact, other than conceding free kicks in bad spots (12th, 15th, and maybe the 88th depending how you judge the call), Alonso had a very efficient game.
Ozzie steps up to stop penetrating runs better than anyone in the league and he did this in the 3rd and 25th to stop Montreal attacks. He also is a master at stopping counter attacks on his own by pressuring the ball before it can be moved forward, something he did in the 9th and 37th.
Like Marshall, Alonso was forced to save the defense's butt a number of times. I can't describe how impressive the 61st minute step to Oduro after a Zach Scott whiff was to me; he actually started moving into position before the play started. This, coupled with an increase towards his former pace this week allowed him to slide in behind a spinning Scott and save the day.
Another time Alonso saved the day through the middle by tracking back and taking the ball off an Impact player in his own goal box ended up poorly when he miss-cleared the ball right to Piatti, who managed only to rock the woodwork with the ball. A final save in the 87th minute rescued Remick from a blunder.
Erik Friberg (off 77')
Community - 5.57
Realio - 6
I debated giving Friberg a 5 rating this week as I had a lot of negative marks in the book. He was rounded by players with pace multiple times, Piatti in the 18th and 23rd creating opportunities. He has to get back to fitness and get lighter on his feet with horizontal agility or the attacking mids from other teams will victimize this.
I would like to see a bit better passing numbers from Friberg, and noted touch/pass issues in the 20th and 50th minutes. A lot of this has to do with cohesiveness between players not being there yet. Some is because of what I mentioned last week where Erik is putting the ball in the right place, but players are not making intelligent runs (or runs at all).
The reason this grade earned the 6 was because while the pass % wasn't spectacular, he looked vertical and attempted to stretch the field like no one else was. Friberg also utilizes quick one-touch passing that I can't wait to see connect with skilled DP players. The highlight for Friberg in Canada was a tremendous vision and touch pass over the top to Neagle in the 66th minute that perfectly put the Sounders striker in a 1v1 position (squandered). I noted that Erik got 10 more minutes this week and looks to be getting closer to full game fitness.
Community - 4.76
Realio - 4
It is a shame that Roldan has been thrust so firmly into the fire this season and is forced to play so many minutes. To me it looks like he lacks a lot of polish and I hope his confidence can endure the increasing number of setbacks his development seems to be taking. I am seeing more and more errors, and I am sad that he hasn't had the proper grooming and coaching chance to learn the MLS game from the sideline.
That being said, Cristian did not play very well against Montreal. He drifted in and out of the game (I noted 12 minutes in that he hadn't touched the ball), and had many bad turnovers. His possession was again lacking, losing the ball in the 29th, 40th, 51st, 70th and 90th, to go with awful passes in the 30th and 59th. Add in a miserable cross in the 74th and there are just too many negative marks for a starter in this league. The 30th minute pass was telling, as Roldan got the ball in attacking space with a wide player overlapping and he passed the ball both too weak and too vertical; the pass went straight to a defender killing the attack.
Roldan had some good notes but they were headers, defensive pressure, and recoveries. None of the positive marks were on the ball control or passing or vision or constructive movement. I was VERY disappointed to see him get beat by Ciman in the 87th minute, and then walk on the sideline making no effort to return to the field and support the play. This play resulted in the Alonso foul that gave Montreal the game winning free kick. Roldan quit on the play, argued with the 4th official, and failed to support his teammates when a bit of hustle could have prevented the entire situation. This mental weakness is prevalent in the entire team right now and I think Roldan needs a break.
Chad Barrett (off 67')
Community - 3.62
Realio - 4
The 4-3-3 formation has been a flop for the Sounders. Part of the problem is due to the disastrous performances by the forward triumvirate. Barrett was not good in this game, and frankly looked lost. At times Chad would be pressing high with no support from the rest of the team, and at other times he would be drifting wide only to be in the way of the wing players. After getting into a good spot for a Leo Gonzales cross in the 6th minute his header was completely lacking, failing to be anything dangerous.
A pointless back heel in the general direction of Friberg in minute 7 killed an attack and resulted in a loss of possession, and another overlapping pass two minutes later was horribly impossible for Mears to latch onto. Barrett had one decent hold up that I noted in the 26th, bookended by generally bad control to awful possession (17th, 57th).
The one thing that Barrett has been doing more so than the other forwards, is even though he has been struggling he has continued to set his teammates up well. Against Montreal his shining moment came in minute 56. Seeing a throw in imminent, Chad took off for the goal, receiving a great Andy Rose throw. After being caught by a defender, Barrett cut back to his left and delivered a perfect cross to Neagle for a wide open header. I appreciate that he is still creating these chances even though not a single one has been converted.
Community - 3.49
Realio - 3
Neagle is actively hurting the team at this point. His possession is nonexistent, he is not moving assertively, he isn't offering anything on either side of the ball, and is just a mess. Lamar had some of the worst completion % on the team, and I noted especially bad passes in the 26th, 44th, and 47th. He dribbled into trouble in the 25th and promptly lost the ball. A nice Roldan play and cross in the 38th went wanting because Neagle inexplicably stopped his far post run. He is just not there mentally and needs a break.
Neagle's night can be summed up in two plays. In the 56th he makes a nice cut to get inside of the defender and get his head on the end of a wonderful Barrett cross. Any forward HAS to at least put that on goal. He wasn't even close. Ten minutes later Friberg put him perfectly on goal and the sequence went as follows: 1 - bad first touch allows defender to get position, 2 - ball off knee on attempted cutback because of bad first touch and lack of ball control, 3 - fall down. I am used to Neagle getting 1v1 chances and blowing them, but this was just miserable.
The guy has no confidence and is putting minimal effort to make up for his lack of skill. It is telling that I noted him quitting on a play in the SECOND MINUTE OF THE GAME. He also quit on a play in the 17th and was walking and not trying at all in the 92nd as the team chased a point. I have no sympathy for lack of effort. Neagle needs to sit.
Darwin Jones (67')
Community - 3.67 (99% rated)
Realio - 4
All the talk about how "Jones can't be worse than what we have" was only proven true because Neagle played dreadfully. Darwin wasn't much better, notching a keeper pressure and a good pass in the 79th minute. I noted 4 bad controls, a lack of holdup play, a whiff on an open shot, lack of movement on offense, and poor touch when presented with a possible shot on goal. He was not good, and didn't look remotely capable of playing at the MLS level yet. It doesn't help that he was up front with underperforming players, and Jones looked like a USL player.
Dylan Remick (72')
Community - 4.96 (99% rated)
Realio - 5
Remick had 18 minutes to make his mark. He didn't. He had a header right to Oduro that Alonso had to clean up in the negative column and a nice long throw in the positive. Since Leo looks hurt, I assume Remick will be back to starting this weekend. I hope the long rest has left him refreshed and ready to again rampage up and down the left wing like he has shown he's capable of. This sub actually did a lot to mess up the Sounders as I think Thomas was scheduled to come on for either Neagle or Roldan and may have helped the team a lot if the injury hadn't happened.
Gonzalo Pineda (77')
Community - 4.53 (100% rated)
Realio - 5
Pineda for Friberg was a pretty obvious sub and Gonzalo did an adequate job in the middle, but his lack of pace forced Alonso into more roving which created more fouls. Pineda was active with short passing immediately and did a good job holding the middle of the field. His positioning and slow speed forced a yellow on a tactical foul. At this point I am happy we took the foul instead of letting one of the fastest guys in the league get a late counter.
Community - 5.24
Realio - 7
The ref did a fairly decent job calling fouls and keeping up with play/staying in good position. He seemed aware early when he spoke to Donadel about diving in the 4th minute. I liked the warning he gave to Leo for persistent fouls and it was effective in slowing the out of control left back. Late in the game Barrett passed off to Neagle for a shot and was fouled- Penso allowed the shot and called the foul when Lamar put it into the stands. His yellow on Pineda was correctly called.
I didn't like the ref allowing Piatti to retaliate in the 37th minute after being mad at Alonso, and when Donadel held Ozzie on a break in the 60th off a free kick counter I think it deserved the same yellow that Pineda later earned. The biggest mistake may have been the call on the goal scoring free kick, which looked like a clean play.
Hopefully a Sounders home game against Vancouver with some players returning will get this team back on track. Alan Hinton said Oba had a full practice yesterday, so he seems close to returning. Everyone cross your fingers that Dempsey doesn't get hurt in the ASG. Let's see if getting these pieces back can right this sinking ship. For my sanity, I sure hope so.