This time I am sending you an abbreviated ratings post from Amsterdam, and a lot has happened since I last wrote. I knew some big changes were coming and hope you are as excited as I am to see what these new guys can add. Unfortunately in the 1-3 loss to the Los Angeles Galaxy we had no shiny new players, no DPs, and a threadbare roster. I think the Sounders played much better than expected in the first half, but the heat and talent gap was just too much to overcome in the second as players visibly tired and struggled.
Editor's Note: 168 different people gave valid ratings. 41% of them had Giovani Dos Santos as the best Galaxy player. Fifteen people gave Barrett a perfect 10 in his 51 second performance.
Community - 6.07
Realio - 7
Another 3 goals against, another solid score for Stefan Frei. It is a shame that Frei has been left out to dry lately by his team, since he was having a Goalkeeper of the Year worthy season until his injury. Giving up 6 goals in 2 weeks won't help his GAA, but this could have been much worse if not for some stellar goaltending by the Sounders keeper.
In the 29th minute he showed his quick first step off the line, something that separates him from his backup. In the 49th minute with Steven Gerrard given a free look he stood tall and was in perfect position to stop what ended up being a weak effort. When Gyasi Zardes was inexplicably given an equally free run into the box for a shot in the 78th minute Frei came up with his best save of the night, denying the LAG player with a magnificent reaction save. In both the 89th against Juninho and a 92nd minute step out to kick clear, Frei showed how he stays completely involved until the whistle, keeping the scoresheet from being even more lopsided.
I noted a free kick that sailed out of bounds in the 47th. In the 58th Stefan chose to play quickly long, and I think he needs to read the game somewhat better there. The Sounders were besieged by pressure and a low percentage long ball gave possession back to LA too easily, when keeping the ball, slowing down play, and calming his team down would have been preferable.
Community - 4.87
Realio - 5
The Remick/Thomas combination is just not working, and without interplay with the halfback in front of him it takes Dylan from being a very dynamic two-way force into just an ok defender. I only noted 2 standout plays for Remick on the night with one being his lone successful forward run in the 32nd and the other shutting down Robbie Keane inside the box in the 45th.
In the 15th Remick completely whiffed on a header and I am not sure if it is just being next to Scott/Marshall lately but his heading timing has looked suspect. When Dylan did get forward in the 32nd minute he failed to find a wide open Neagle, which was a likely goal. The big negative mark in the book was the 47th minute failure to connect with Thomas that resulted in a Galaxy goal.
I still like Remick, and I think with the changes in personnel his pace and ability to play both ways will be invaluable, however he needs players in front of him willing to work with him and put him in good positions, and in this game that didn't happen. With rock solid center backs and better midfield support, speed on the edges will be very dangerous, and should result in Remick receiving scores closer to his midseason form.
Community - 5.33
Realio - 6
Right when I was looking forward to Marshall having a string of games with Evans to get back in a groove, Garth went all Laura Harvey on us. It looks like in the upcoming weeks he could be next to 2-3 different center backs or even getting rested. For this game Marshall was beside Scott and turned in a merely average performance.
Somehow Chad ended up on the right sideline with Mears pushed very high in the 1st minute and played through a rough foul to get the ball to attackers. Getting hacked by Juhninho doesn't look fun, but Chad kept his composure and found Mears to start what ended in a dream start for the good guys. Marshall almost found himself a goal on a free header in the 24th that unluckily caromed off Gyasi Zardes. I keep thinking this is the game Marshall gets one on a set piece, only to be disappointed.
In the 47th minute goal Chad looked rather foolish, flailing backwards and kicking his leg out, but he was just a part of a massive team failure on the play. Other than that mistake Chad was consistently his usual wall in the back, often coming across to sweep trouble away from the Sounder defense. I don't think Robbie Keane likes to be manhandled by Marshall since multiple times I saw him shy away and try another defender.
Community - 4.90
Realio - 4
If Ramon Torres is the Scott replacement that is a pretty outstanding level of improvement at a single position. I wasn't impressed by Zach again this game, repeatedly seeing his positioning off. Scott, I am assuming because of speed concerns, hangs back very deep and forces large gaps behind the midfield. This also stops any attempt at trapping players. It makes a lot of sense if you are slow and good in the air to hang back, but you need the entire back line to move with you, and I marked multiple times where Scott was just too deep.
In the 13th minute goal against, Scott was marking Zardes on the corner kick, then ball-watched and completely lost him. I saw no effort to pass him off to another player and frankly we should see better from a veteran. His 41st minute giveaway to Dos Santos probably is a goal against on another day. Scott was part of the team failure in the 47th minute goal, reacting too slowly to the ball. As early as the 67th minute Scott gave up trying to work with the midfield and started lumping balls forward, bypassing the central players. He was beat by Alan Gordon in the 80th minute and I have no idea why he just allowed Juninho to run by him in the 89th minute straight to goal.
Scott had a header on a free kick that was called back for offside and another in the 75th that forced a save. His through ball to Remick in the 32nd was tremendous and deserved more than the end result. It is telling that the major positive notes from this very defensive player are offensive in nature.
Community - 5.64
Realio - 6
I had a hard time deciding on Tyrone this week, and he earned an average score from me. Facing the in form and very dangerous combination of Sebastian Lletget and Robbie Rogers, Mears absorbed the pressure and stopped the Galaxy left from running the game.
Mears was beat down the line in the 5th by Lletget and had some poor passes forced by the Galaxy pressure down his side. Tyrone's 8th minute pass was right to the middle and not to a Sounder and could have been disastrous. I never like seeing a player with his hand up while an opposing player is scoring (13th) but I find more fault with other players for the Galaxy goal.
I liked Mears (just like Marshall) playing through a hacking Galaxy defense to get the ball to Friberg for the first goal. Tyrone continues to put in quality right footed service, earning an assist on an offside chance and his 75th minute ball was sublime. Hopefully with some new/different targets we can start to make these teams pay for fouling in dangerous spots.
Community - 4.57
Realio - 4
This was USL quality play at best from the Brazilian. The young Sounder really struggled with the matchup against Zardes/AJ DeLaGarza and failed to do much on either side of the ball.
For the plus side I saw helpful defensive efforts in the 10th and 20th minutes and I like that he attacks all the way to the baseline to get differing angles on crosses. His great run in the 23rd minute unfortunately was neutralized by Neagle occupying the same space.
The defensive effort I had seen lately from Thomas was almost completely absent, and I lost track of how many times I saw him watching plays or lightly jogging as Galaxy players ran by. One such play resulted in a yellow card for Friberg following a poor Thomas pass and jog back. I really didn't like the effort and complete lack of cohesion between Thomas and anyone else on the team. With this many minutes under his belt we should see much more familiarity. I doubt he will keep playing time with new and hopefully better players incoming.
I wonder whether his slight pull on Barrett's shoulder contributed to the injury that forced the Sounder's only viable attacker off the field in the 2nd minute.
Community - 5.90
Realio - 6
Evans isn't dynamic in the middle of the field but he brings a calm presence that was needed against L.A. It is nice to see a Sounders midfielder willing to hold the ball and not immediately force the issue back onto another teammate. Brad has much confidence in his control and ability and I think the time in the back has really helped Evans improve as a player.
I did see some issues with his midfield run, where he was obviously getting his feet back under him. A poor 18th minute trap almost got ugly and another 49th minute pass allowed Gerrard a wide open shot.
It was apparent to me that Evans isn't midfield fit, and he seemed tired in the second half. By the 75th minute he was walking and while still able to help the team wasn't making runs off the ball with any regularity. If Evans is playing more midfield soon he will need to acquire more endurance, as well as be surrounded by more dynamic players that can alleviate his need to run everywhere putting out midfield fires.
Community - 6.72 (MotM)
Realio - 7 (MotM)
Before Erik came I wrote a post about what he could bring to this team. The Friberg who travelled up to L.A. showed that guy. He was direct, dangerous, incisive, constantly goal facing and facilitated those around him into great attacking positions. The vision+service on the 1st minute goal was just wonderful and something the Sounders haven't had from the central midfield this year.
While Evans was the control, Friberg was the danger, consistently attempting high reward passes in the final third. Erik hit Neagle in the 11th that a better player gets on goal and again in the 39th an over the top ball from Friberg to Neagle should have produced a dangerous shot. Friberg took a free kick in the 74th and it was spot on. He wasn't all offense either, I noted in the 41st an effective rotational cover for a slow Roldan and Friberg was still playing hard defense in the 83rd minute; he seems game fit.
Friberg wasn't perfect; he had some errant passes and forced the ball forward a few times. But in this game we could really see how effective he can be in the middle of the field, spraying passes around and putting guys in great chances to score.
Community - 5.11
Realio - 5
Under average performance from Rose who wasn't able to affect the game with any consistency. Rose brought hustle in the middle of the field and part of the reason the Sounders won a majority of the central battles was his tireless work in the holes left by Friberg and Evans. The thing that I noticed most from Andy was his ability to shut down any sharp passes through the middle with great positioning. When he did get the ball Andy found the right pass and had a high % of success against L.A.
Unfortunately, we need more than just a guy who plays well in the middle, and "solid" will no longer be worthy of starting soon for the Sounders. In the few chances that Andy had to impress during the game he struggled, such as when he was manhandled easily off the ball by Omar Gonzalez, who completely dominated him in the 59th.
Rose is a quality player and would probably start on many teams in this league, however with the additions incoming I see his aerial skill and tactical positioning not valued enough to get him time as a starter. I believe him to be very useful depth for fixture congestion and a tireless aerial dominant change of pace player for tactical needs.
Community - 6.13
Realio - 7
Chad did everything right. He just unfortunately got his shoulder tugged as he ran back after scoring in the 1st minute and pulled a muscle. It is a shame since the way he scored was exactly how he has been playing this year and exactly what we needed vs. the Galaxy. The subtle ability to slide in between the center backs and quality finish was tremendous. The Sounders really missed this as well as any sort of holdup play that Chad could have brought to the game.
By the time he gets back from yet another injury I think it may be hard for Barrett to find playing time.
Realio - 4
It is depressing that my weekly question is "Do I give Lamar Neagle a 3 or a 4?" I am beyond disappointed in his play and there is no one else on the team who needs a rest more. Lamar is a workhorse and has put in tons of effort in the last month, but he is just failing to play good soccer. He had a nice ten-minute section of the game where he earned possession in the 22nd, had good hold up play in the 28th and 31st, and made a good run for Remick in the 32nd.
Unfortunately the rest of the game he was ineffective and borderline awful for me. I'll just list a few of my first half notes for Lamar:
9th minute no hold up and forces ball backwards into pressure for t/o, 45th minute holdup play absent
11th, 22nd minutes put on goal by Friberg tremendous pass; failure to improve ball.
13th lost Zardes on goal.
23rd ran into wide open Thomas who was receiving service from Friberg and had a good chance ended.
37th, 38th, others, too slow on the ball (once outsprinted by DONOVAN RICKETTS)
16th, 23rd, others, just walking around not involved.
It didn't get any better in the second half, with Neagle being completely ineffective as a lone forward. He doesn't hold the ball up and allow his midfield to join the attack, and he doesn't make intelligent runs (or runs at all) to give proper angles to teammates. One of my biggest pet peeves is when a forward allows the defense to switch the ball back and forth, forcing the midfielders behind him to run incessantly. With Neagle walking up front, others quickly tired behind him in the California sun.
Neagle needs a mental and physical break, and I need a break from Neagle.
Cristian Roldan (on 4')
Community - 4.80
Realio - 4
This is a 4 because Neagle got a 4 and frankly both could have been 3's. I really don't understand the people who thought he was good in this game, unless they only watched his fancy spin move and entry pass to Neagle in the 37th minute, because that was the only positive I had.
If it wasn't for the steady Mears behind him, the Sounders would have had issues, since Lletget easily beat Roldan in the 11th and 12th minutes. Most of the game Friberg had to come over to help Mears as Roldan was positionally very off. I am seeing a ton of mental errors in Cristian's game, and I hope he goes back and looks at minute 21. In this play he runs right into Mears' space, and then passes off sides. These are things he should not be doing and the coaching staff will definitely need to note and work with him on.
One of the main issues I hope the coaching staff works on is helping Cristian slow down and develop a better soccer mind. Right now he is all unaimed hustle and no brains. A perfect example of this was his athletic leap to challenge Ricketts for a header in the 72nd minute that he failed miserably on. Roldan jumped blindly with his back to the ball, wasn't close to the keeper, and fell down upon landing. On the ground, he watched a Rose shot trickle by him and get cleared off the line by a LAG player.
Roldan has played a lot this year yet I still consistently see a marked decline in his abilities after the 60th minute. I was disgusted by his bad pass and ZERO hustle back in the 64th minute followed by a 66th minute pass to no one. His touch deteriorates as well, exemplified by the poor control in the 71st that killed a chance. I don't know how the team can get him in any more game shape by this time of the season, but it is now a trend for Roldan to both struggle in the second half and more alarmingly quit on plays when he is tired.
Oniel Fisher (on 60')
Community - 4.68 (100% rated)
Realio - 5
This was the player on the bench I was most excited to see get a run out and he definitely got the notebook busy with actions. Unfortunately he turned in a below average performance and I think he will soon be relegated to emergency backup status only. I did like that Fisher was immediately active, forcing the issue and even being around to scoop up an errant back pass from Gonzalez. Unfortunately Oniel finishes like a fullback and his weak attempt fluttered into the arms of Ricketts.
I was not impressed by the lack of composure Fisher showed immediately afterwards, earning a yellow card for a frustration foul in the 61st. In the 72nd minute he completely lost Alan Gordon on the back post during a counter attack and somehow the L.A. forward could only manage to rock the post on his wide open shot. In the 78th minute Fisher took a very bad angle closing down Zardes which allowed another wide open look. Poor passes in the 84th and 85th minutes killed any sort of comeback attempt.
I like Fisher's size and athleticism and going forward he is aggressive and confident. I didn't like seeing 2 very scorable chances presented to the Galaxy when he was playing left back.
Darwin Jones (on 77')
Community - 4.14 (99% rated)
Realio - 6
This was I believe Jones' best effort, and he looked at least moderately able to hang with MLS level talent. Other than a wasted shot in the 87th minute Jones made the most of his limited time. Darwin is vastly better at holdup play than Neagle, and showed this well in the 82nd by controlling and turning. Again in the 92nd he held up the ball bringing Evans into the attack for an ultimately weak effort. I like the development of Jones and he seemed more comfortable on the ball as well as banging with the big center defenders from L.A.
Community - 5.68
Realio - 7
This was by far Marrufo's best effort that I have seen this year, consistently in the right place and using the whistle as a tool not a crutch. Jair correctly allowed not one but two advantages to be played on the Sounders goal scoring play, allowing the event to continue after fouls against Marshall and Mears. I do think Robbie Rogers deserved a yellow card for his harsh foul on Tyrone Mears during this play, but perhaps Marrufo thought this double jeopardy due to the goal.
The yellow against Friberg was the correct call and I especially liked the multiple times Marrufo ignored dives by Lletget, trying for penalties. I noted consistent positioning by the referee in this one and he was perfectly placed to call a handball on Keane in the 47th; this stopped any Irish whining.
A great call was made against Alan Gordon in the 78th minute after he hacked a Sounder player long after the ball was gone. I have seen this hacking by Gordon consistently missed by other referees. Marrufo did miss a similar play against Rose in the 87th that I believe should also have been called against the Sounder for kicking out. I think Zach Scott got away with a dive in the box in the 63rd minute when he was beat on defense and perhaps suckered Marrufo into giving a soft foul in favor of the Sounder defender.
This was a very solid job by a referee that generally struggles in Sounders matches (rated 3 and 5 respectively in prior games).
Here comes the cavalry! (I hope) see you all back in the states on Sunday!