Hi guys, writing this somewhere over Canadia on my way to a wedding in Ireland. There isn’t a ton to be excited about from the 0-3 shelling the Sounders took from the Vancouver Whitecaps this weekend, but there is help on the way and we are getting players back from various absences. My ratings reflect a rather lackluster game marred by some faulty set piece defending and opportunistic finishing by unlikely goal scorer Pa Modou Kah.
Editor's Notes: Sixty-one percent of the 331 raters had Pa Modou Kah as the best non-Sounder. I guess a defender that helps a shutout while scoring two goals has a good game.
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Communiy - 5.60 (MotM)
Realio – 6
I had a hard time finding a lot wrong with the Sounders keeper this week, even though he gave up 3 goals. Frei showed his comfort on the ball throughout, starting the game off by playing short in the 4th, 7th, and 10th minutes; the Sounders obviously wanted to develop possession from the back.
There was a little bit of hesitation in his overall game, and Frei didn’t seem as assertive as before the injury. In the 34th Vancouver took a quick restart and I thought Stefan waited too long to come off his line to cover the break, although he did well to make himself big to prevent a goal. Again in the 48th minute I thought he was tentative, ultimately staying home on a crossing ball that was headed out by Marshall for a corner. This turned into a big decision, as the ensuing set piece ended up back heeled by Pa Kah for goal number two.
Stefan had a great save on a Kekuta Manneh shot from distance in the 18th minute. The best save of the game came on a Harvey shot in the 40th that Frei was able to just get enough on to parry it into the post and away. I noted a nice punch clear in the 54th and great hands to hold onto a Laba blast in the 62nd.
I am glad to have Frei back there, but I would like to see him get back to the aggressive keeper that he was pre injury quickly. A few plays were affected by communications issues from Stefan and his back four and I hope this group can get plenty of reps together to restore the rhythm they exhibited earlier in the season.
Community - 4.74
Realio – 5
Remick was largely unimpressive on Saturday, failing to make much of an impression on the stat sheet yet not making any egregious blunders. I noted that he was pressing very high in the 2nd minute, but as the game ensued he struggled to get into the attack. He had a brave header in the 17th minute that involved a really high boot. He stepped forward defensively well in the 28th minute. There was a good overlap in the 65th but he didn’t get forward as much as I would prefer and must work with Thomas to create the chemistry needed for consistent overlapping play.
Remick was beat badly by Techera in the 5th minute and this ended up leading to the first goal after Dylan fouled the Whitecap Player. Remick had a bad overlap in the 35th. To really impact the games Dylan needs to do more on both sides of the field. I believe his biggest assets to be his pace and stamina and I would like to see him able to really open it up on the wing, bringing width and service while playing lock down defense.
Community - 4.99
Realio – 6
With his preferred defensive partner in the back returned Marshall was freed to float a bit more and play a bit of a destroyer role with less last ditch desperation defending. This led to mixed results. I liked his tackle in the 13th minute after being punched in the throat a few minutes prior. As usual Marshall was strong in the air, winning at least 6 defensive headers. Chad was active on set pieces but was again unable to convert. He got a head on a corner in the 32nd that he put over, and had a great shot on goal after a Kah handball on another corner that prompted a fantastic David Ousted save.
I actually thought Marshall struggled with some things that he is usually very strong at. He was very slow to clear a ball in the 1st minute and turned the ball over when he wasn’t on the same page as the rest of the defense’s attempts to possess the ball in the back. He gave a free kick away in a bad spot in the 4th minute that was one of many free plays given to Vancouver. On the first goal, Marshall got picked, allowing Kendal Waston to elongate the play. I really would like to see him fight through the rubs/screens that people are going to throw at him on set pieces. Chad had a weak back pass in the 19th that was stolen and could have been a disaster. As much as I love his playing through the handball PK to get a shot on goal, in the 34th he was caught complaining about a high kick called against him, while Vancouver almost scored by taking the rewarded free kick quickly.
I fully expect Marshall to play better as the back 4 get more time together in the next few weeks, but this week he was just average.
Communiy - 5.28
Realio – 7 (MotM)
Evans was the best player on a defense that looked very strong other than a few set piece blunders. His 1v1 defense is phenomenal, and he proved this in the very 1st minute. I noted the 31’, 37’, and 60’ marks as well as times where Evans was isolated on defense and just shut down the Vancouver attack. His best example of this came in the 17th though, when after being beat by a through ball by Octavio Rivero deep in his own 18 yard box Evans played perfect stand up defense, keeping his feet and forcing Rivero to drop the ball back. I loved seeing Brad’s perfect footwork and dedication to positional defense instead of relying on risky slide tackles in the box.
After winning a header to stop an attack in the 9th, Evans followed this up in the 10th minute with a run forward to start an attack, juking a player on the way and lengthening the field for the overrun Seattle midfield.
Brad had a quiet second half, doing all the little things needed to keep Vancouver from scoring, turning back attacks and possessing the ball. The difference in the defense with the captain back on the field was noticeable, and the little bit of class he brings to possession soccer should really pay off as we progress deeper into the season.
Community - 5.33
Realio – 5
Mears had a lot of marks on both sides of the book this week. Maybe it was because the BEERS FOR MEARS guys weren’t there, but something was off with Tyrone. He dribbled into trouble in the 7th and 70th, losing possession both times. Mears seemed on a completely different page than Friberg in front of him, rarely being able to connect on any plays benefiting either player. This left him to chunking wasted long balls forward, bypassing the midfield completely. This happened in the 2nd, 17th, and 28th without any being successful. Tyrone had an awful free kick from a central position in the 68th minute that went straight to Ousted.
Mears wasn’t tested a ton in this game, but showed great recovery pace on multiple occasions and 1v1 defense in the 19th. With Marshall and Evans out of position due to a quick free kick, Mears alertly came over in the 34th to help Frei stop a dangerous attack. Unlike Remick, Mears was able to get into the attack throughout the game in different ways, with mixed results. Getting forward in the 13th minute he picked out Barrett for a nice near post chance. The right back wasn’t able to impress much on the game from the run of play but was able to show some from dead balls. His corner in the 32nd was just about perfect, as well as his service in the 56th and free kick in the 84th.
Mears can be an attacking option and needs much better cohesiveness with whoever is in front of him, and I would like to see him giving Evans a more aggressive attacking option instead of just square passes.
Community - 4.88
Realio – 6
Thomas was one of the better Sounders in the game for me against Vancouver. I see a lot of potential from his skill set. The touch is there, and he is comfortable going down the line or cutting inside. Thomas plays attacking soccer and this earned a free kick in the 10th minute. Thomas has god service with either foot, showcasing this wonderfully in the 42nd minute. In this series he served in a good corner right footed that was recycled to him for a left footed cross that should have resulted in a penalty for a handball. Thomas shows good control under pressure, such as in the 69th minute. Thomas was one of the few Sounders who looked interested in attacking the goal in the second half and consistently attempted to push the ball vertical.
Thomas still has a lot of learning to do and had some rough passes that were both poor decisions and unfamiliarity with runners. He had some bad touches, a rough corner, and a foul in a bad spot (55th min). I think as the team gets some needed roster help he will get the time and mentorship needed to develop his skills for the team and MLS game.
Community - 4.24
Realio – 3
Pineda was awful. I had him down for a good corner kick in the 14th minute and a nice touch to Barrett in the box in the 32nd.
Gonzalo really struggled and whatever formation the Sounders were playing didn’t work one bit for him. I wrote the word "immobile" for Pineda in the 2nd, 5th, and 23rd. This was actually a different negative mark than "too slow" which I noted in the 12th and 16th where Techera easily rounded Pineda to put Rivero on goal. His slow defense allowed Jordan Harvey to get an open shot in the 40th that needed Frei plus the post to save it.
Pineda did take two shots, one I just wrote "LOL" in the 39th as it went wide. The 45th minute free kick he put into the Blue Thunder was just pathetic. This game was one he will want to forget, and he may not remember it after being subbed following a head injury.
Community - 5.12
Realio – 4
I expect more from designated players. Alonso did a few decent things in the middle of the field, passing the ball to guys in green and playing some defense. He had a low (for him) passing percentage, but still must have done some good soccer things. None showed up in my notes.
What did show up were bad passes in the 2,9,15,15,22,37,52,62,63,65 and 74th minutes. That’s over 10 blatantly bad passes that I counted and some weren’t even close. The "good" bad passes just went out of bounds. The bad ones went to guys in white who then shoved the ball back down the Sounders’ throat. Alonso looked slow, losing Nicolas Mezquida who put Octavio RIvero on goal in the 17th. A few minutes later Rivero beat him and Osvaldo just flat out pushed the Whitecap player without trying to make any sort of soccer play on the ball. Alonso brought out the OLE’ defense on Manneh in the 52nd, getting completely outclassed and looking slow as the Whitecap player blew by him. Ozzie’s cynical foul and yellow card in the 74th minute just showed a complete frustration. I was also frustrated, as this foul resulted in a goal from the rewarded free kick. To cap off a forgettable night Alonso made a rather ridiculous slide tackle attempt late and appeared to have pulled a hamstring in doing so.
The Alonso/Pineda midfield sits way too deep on the fullbacks, removing any shape the defense has to keep possession, and unless these two control and play quickly (they didn’t) the fullbacks are forced to just dump long balls over the top of the midfield to the opposing team defense. This team depends on Alonso to be a lot better than he showed against Vancouver.
Community - 4.61
Realio – 5
Friberg looked pretty lost on the wing, which is disappointing. I actually hoped for an attacking midfield signing that would allow Friberg to play the wing, but he needs to show more than he did Saturday for this to be a viable option. Erik was in the right spots often, but his service from the wing was just really lacking. I noted poor passes from the wing in the 2nd, 32nd, 50th, 52nd, 69th, and 80th minutes. If he is going to play outside, or drift out to the wings, he needs to have much much better entry passes to the forwards.
I thought that every time Friberg moved in to the middle he looked more comfortable and improved the midfield shape immediately. His precise passing in the 8th minute and great through ball look to Dempsey in the 10th gave a glimpse of what could be should he be given more opportunity to play centrally. Friberg was the only player looking vertical and almost connected over the top to Dempsey in the 35th. I hope the coaching staff noticed how successful the team was with Friberg getting more touches on the ball centrally. It’s nice to see him already full match fit.
Chad Barrett (off 63’)
Community - 3.59
Realio – 6
I heard a lot of people saying negative things about Barrett, but I was actually fairly impressed by what he brought to the game and he looked comfortable running off of Clint. He started off the game with a difficult Frei punt in the 2nd minute which was expertly headed back to an open midfielder. Chad utilized the chest pass often and with great effect in this game, notably the 5th and 34th. His holdup play was generally very good and in the 10th and 25th minutes he held the ball and allowed the midfield to advance in some of the few times they were able to get possession out of the defense. In the 13th Barrett made a nice darting run in front of Kendall Waston to get a shot near post from a Mears cross that earned a corner. With Dempsey hanging back, Barrett constantly harried the Vancouver defense alone, forcing Ousted into a few misclearances.
Chad looks to have lost Kah on the first goal, although it’s hard to put a scramble play on one player. Barrett lost possession in the 17th and 41st on hold up chances, and his crossing was poor in the 32nd and 34th minutes.
Barrett faded quickly in the second half in effectiveness, but was great to see him chase down a poor pass in the 46th minute all the way to his own 18. This hustle was lacking from a majority of the rest of the team. Unfortunately we need strikers that have more than just hustle and 63 minute legs.
Community - 5.47
Realio – 6
In the first half Dempsey played great. Even though he had to drop all the way into the Brougham end to get his first touch a whopping 10 minutes into the game, he managed to open the game up almost every time he had the ball at his feet. In the 13th minute he showcased his vision with a switching pass that the midfield completely missed, opening up the entire field. A vertical run was almost sniffed out by Friberg in the 35th. The most dangerous attacks almost always came through Dempsey, and he put Neagle in after a sublime flick in the 82nd. Dempsey definitely tired by the end of the game, showing bad touch and missed header in the 82nd and 84th.
Although he was the most dangerous player in the field, Clint really cost the team against Vancouver at times. His high elbow in the 46th could merit some further discussion, and he earned a 53rd minute card for an unnecessary off ball foul. These indiscretions were of poor character and showed a lot of frustration from the Sounders star. Clint didn’t step aggressively to a short corner that resulted in goal #2.
Goal scoring is complicated, and defensive breakdowns and poor fouls give teams free kicks, but I hope Clint is NEVER put in a wall again because he cost us one goal and almost two. In the first, he was called into a 3 man wall in the 60th minute which he obviously wasn’t interested in. He bailed, and the shot went off the post right where he had been set. Having seen this from the bench, I can imagine Pedro Morales being excited to see Dempsey again in a wall in the 75th minute. His shot went right where Dempsey should have been for the coffin nail goal. Dempsey is often great on set piece defense, I even noted a header in the 20th minute off a free kick. He obviously should not be in the wall.
Cristian Roldan (on 59’)
Community - 4.01 (94% rated)
Realio – 5
I noted lots of poor touches, passes out of bounds, and he generally looked over matched and trying too hard to compensate. I was really disappointed to see Roldan whiff on defense and quit on the play in the 74th minute that led to the goal. This reminded me a lot of the end of the Montreal game.
Lamar Neagle (on 63’)
Community - 3.86 (94% rated)
Realio – 5
Neagle helped some on defense and brought energy for a tiring Barrett. He had good chemistry with Dempsey and got a shot on goal.
Also on showcase was Neagle’s awful touch, resulting in some patchy play. He wasn’t ready for Dempsey flick on goal that he eventually turned into a contested shot. He did try a bicycle kick, which ended exactly how you would expect.
Andy Rose (on 76’)
Community - 4.67 (80% rated)
Realio – 5
Rose did Rose things. He ran a lot, got in good spots and didn’t get the ball, and played defense. Nothing exciting to note.
Community - 3.98
Realio – 5
Geiger is usually a very good referee, but it seems after the Gold Cup debacle he is a bit gun shy after ignoring a few pretty blatant fouls. Red cards and hand balls in the box are huge turning points in such a low scoring sport like soccer and to miss these calls directly impacted the Sounders’ score line.
Geiger reffed a mostly clean game; I noted the correct call in the 10th minute foul and delivered a needed warning to Friberg in the 20th. I liked Geiger’s usage of advantage, and he called it expertly in the 44th minute and then pulled the ball back when there was no advantage to be gained. His yellow cards on Dempsey off the ball in the 53rd, Waston for tactical foul in the 67th and Alonso cynical take down late were deserved. Generally Geiger did a good job allowing the game to flow and keeping somewhat testy tempers from flaring up too badly.
Unfortunately the biggest calls of the game were missed by the ref. In only the 2nd minute Mezquita led with an elbow to Chad Marshall’s throat that deserved a yellow at the least. It should be irrelevant at what time the foul was committed, that is endangering the opponent. Dempsey later led with a similar elbow and it too went unpunished. The trifecta of bad elbow miss-calls occurred in the 57th minute as Rivero broke Pineda’s face and forced him to sub out; again no card given. Every one of these deserved at the minimum a caution and could have warranted a harsher penalty.
One of my biggest pet peeves is forcing a "hurt" player off the field, only to waive them back on before the dead ball is even taken. Geiger allowed Kah to manipulate him so in the 36th minute.
The biggest call from the Sounders’ perspective was the obvious hand ball by Kah in the 42nd minute. Geiger had a good view of it and Kah’s arm was not in a natural position. By making himself bigger and touching the ball a penalty kick was warranted, but not given. These plays are earned by the attacking team and to not call them unduly penalizes them. I was very disappointed with this call and the failure to protect the players on the field with caution cards. Geiger sees his average on the year in Sounders games go from 8.5 to 7.3 after a below average outing.
There was a lot to be disappointed in with this performance and the addition of Alonso to the injured list is rough. Getting Oba and hopefully signing some new blood to the roster should add some depth and desire to the roster. Hopefully me being out of the country will be just what the team needs to turn this thing around. Stay strong Sounders fans!