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Seattle Sounders vs. FC Dallas: Player Ratings

After predicting a road win in Dallas, I looked pretty smart for almost 80 minutes. Unfortunately, a combination of poor play, missing players, and some suspect refereeing combined to see the mighty Sounders drop points in a game that they led, a first for the Schmetzer era. A resilient Dallas team demonstrated in the second half why they are in the driver’s seat for the Supporters’ Shield, and earned the 1-2 final score. We also saw just how scary the once forgotten Sounders could be in spurts and why it’s likely no one wants to see this team in the playoffs.


KEEPER:

Stefan Frei – 6 | Community – 6.7

Facing a very potent attack, Frei didn’t have too many big chances against (especially in the first half), and that was a testament to the defensive work of the entire back seven. It wasn’t until later in the second half that fatigue and injury forced changes to the group and some chinks in the Seattle defensive armor showed.

In the 7th minute Stefan had a shot that he was in perfect position to save, and it was in minute 16 that Frei came up huge, stopping Maxi Urruti who was through. Stepping assertively off his line, Frei closed down the angle and made himself big, employing the under-utilized face save on what looked to be a sure Dallas goal. This kept Seattle in the game and the score line at zero.

In the second half Dallas mounted more consistent possession in the Seattle zone, and Frei was off his line in the 49th and 62nd to stop attacks that almost broke through. It took a soft foul call to give the home team a close free kick that was capitalized on in the 79th. There wasn’t much Stefan could do on that goal, and I believe he also did the right thing in the 89th when Dallas scored the winner. The keeper has to come off his line there, or Carlos Ruiz can trap and finish. In stepping to the ball, Frei forced Ruiz into an incredible shot, which had to be both away from the keeper and perfectly under the crossbar. Unfortunately for Seattle, Ruiz did just that.

Frei did kick a few clearances out of bounds and looked to be fighting the sun/wind at times, but was otherwise solid as usual. Down a goal and with nothing to lose, it was a heroic dash up the field by Stefan to assist on a 97th minute free kick that nearly tied the game. Somehow he both won a header in traffic and put it on goal perfectly, only to have Chris Seitz make a great save to preserve the win. What an amazing goal that would have been!

DEFENSE:

Joevin Jones – 6 | Community – 6.1

Joevin returned to the starting lineup and immediately showed his willingness to get forward. He made overlaps in the 3rd, 6th, 9th and 32nd, this last one earning a corner kick that we scored on. It was nice to see this width created by the outside back, although Jones was less active going forward after halftime.

There were a few times in the first half when Jones dropped too far off Barrios and allowed him to get either a cross off or a dropping pass to an overlap or midfield shooter, and he needs to close down faster. This almost cost the team in the 11th and 23rd, but Jones once again was able to mostly contain the Dallas winger and was a large reason Barrios was held to zero shots and almost no impact on the game. Specifically, in the 48th, 56th and 59th minutes I was impressed with Jones shutting down Barrios’ attacks 1v1, and when Mauro Rosales subbed in it was more of the same.

Jones still doesn’t stay in the game when he’s not specifically involved, and there was a lot of walking behind the play and lack of hustle to get back on defense after making runs. His combination with anyone other than Marshall remains a struggle. I love what his offensive capabilities give us, and he has shown the ability to shut a Barrios or Dos Santos out of a game from a defensive standpoint, but still shows intermittent effort.

Chad Marshall – 7 | Community – 6.7 (off 63’)

Marshall was again strong in this game, and while the team was definitely in a “hold on” mode for most of the second half, it didn’t unravel too badly until his ankle injury forced him off the field. Without the communication and leadership from Marshall suddenly there were holes on the backline, and unmarked Dallas players found free space.

Marshall’s positioning has been so steady this year that it’s sometimes hard to find notes for him. He is so well prepared for attacks to come his way that it often takes very little movement to make a key defensive play. Rarely does he need to do anything fancy, and he continually makes good choices on when to use physicality and when to use finesse. In this game he needed to use more finesse against a tricky (read: bad at gravity) player like Maxi Urruti. Chad almost completely removed him from the game, from stepping up to deny service into the Dallas forward to preventing him from turning, all the while holding his line. When Marshall wasn’t eating Urruti, he was sliding over to support against Barrios as Jones surged forward, or perfectly supporting Torres in the back. In the 20th minute Dallas looked to be on a break, only to have these two giants expertly shut it down.

Other than a foul on Victor Ulloa in the corner in the 56th that gave a set piece, Marshall was impeccable on defense. His five clearances led the team, but his passing from the back was only ok. Without Alonso to facilitate passing through the middle and with Dallas’ mids pressing, the connection from the back line was much worse than usual, with both center backs a whopping ~30% lower completion rate than normal.

Roman Torres – 6 | Community – 6.6

While Chad was dominating Urruti, Torres was similarly erasing Akindele from the game. He was so efficient that Tesho didn’t even register a shot on goal all game. His strategy mirrored Chad’s, and we saw Roman quick to step into passing lanes and deny service. Only in the 20th minute did Akindele look to have gotten through on a break, but Torres showed surprising pace, closing down the striker via excellent angle recovery. When the Dallas striker looked up from what he thought was a free ball over the top, he saw not only Torres with him stride for stride but also Marshall lurking in perfect unison with Roman in a central position. It was beautiful.

Roman had an early bad pass from the back, and the defense struggled to get the ball into attacking positions. Torres was slow to rotate across to cover for an overloaded right in the 16th minute and this was the only time Dallas broke through, forcing the #facesave from Frei. Torres disappointed on set piece defense in the second half – he lost Matt Hedges in the 57th and only the sun prevented a better header. Roman was also effectively picked in the 79th by Ryan Hollingshead, which directly contributed to their goal. If you are keeping track, that is Roman Torres fouled on set pieces twice, with Seattle both getting scored on and having a legitimate goal denied on each.

I would like Torres to have taken more of a leadership role when Marshall left, but there was a lot of confusion in the back. It was fun to see him play some central midfielder when he found the ball after going forward for a Seattle dead ball in the 82nd.

Tyrone Mears – 6 | Community – 5.8

For the second straight game, Tyrone brought us a league-average performance and it is good, in light of his struggles, to see these small things he offers to the team. For the majority of the game he dealt well with repeated overlaps from Hollingshead, while supporting inside out runs from Akindele.

Tyrone did some nice things, including a 19th minute cross on offense followed quickly by a defensive header to clear danger. Mears has been quietly effective marking set pieces in the second half of the season. It was Tyrone’s forward run and subsequent free kick foul earned that set up Nico to do his Nico thing in the 41st. In the 48th he beat Akindele on defense, stripping him of the ball before dashing forward, cherry-picking Hedges and going on a personal break out and showing how much help Mears can give to the offense when he applies his energy to pushing forward and supporting wide attacking areas.

The second half was a struggle for the defense, and after Marshall subbed I noted Mears with a defensive action at left midfield, a curious place for a right back to find himself. There were some communication errors with Torres, creating more difficulty in possession on the back right, and once again the Mears/Gomez combo was a dud as far as creating anything. At times Mears has a bad habit of leaving a more dangerous player in the middle to defend wide, even if he has cover. I give a lot of credit on the final goal to Ruiz and Diaz being in sync, but it’s notable that Mears failed to communicate with his teammates and kept this run onside.

DEF MIDFIELD:

Erik Friberg – 6 | Community – 5.8

Erik played well midweek against Houston and this continued into the weekend in Dallas. Tasked with covering the middle with Roldan, I was very happy with his play, especially on defense.

Friberg was constantly covering the middle, allowing Roldan to range from side to side while he anchored centrally. In the first half he was particularly effective, patrolling in front of the center backs and cycling the ball forward and to creative players. Often this was a quick one touch to Nico, who then could set Jordan loose. Early in the game Friberg was continually forcing Mauro Diaz to play negative, preventing the playmaker from finding channels to funnel the ball forward.

Multiple times Friberg came across to help on defense while a fullback stood a player up, and he did a good job of nicking possession. After gaining the ball he often found a pass to Nico to relieve some pressure, although he did chip in with a key pass. Erik tired late, and with less cohesive communication from the back, he was forced to stray wider than in the first half, which helped open up the middle and eventually led to Dallas goals.

Cristian Roldan – 7 | Community – 7.3 (MOTM)

At times Roldan was the best player on the field and he definitely looked able to take on more responsibility in the defensive midfield. With Friberg locking down the center, Roldan roamed from side to side to help with wide attacks, since Dallas’ central midfield stayed deep.

In the 2nd minute he was immediately over to support Jones on the left, and five minutes later again overloaded that side to create a steal. The defensive mids communicated very well in the first half, and often they combined to create a defensive wall shielding service forward. The one time they lost cohesiveness was in the 16th, and instead of one staying home, both defensive mids were caught wide, permitting a through ball to Urruti that forced a big save.

Other than that Roldan was nearly perfect, such as winning a 23rd minute ball back from Gruezo who had stolen it from Morris and putting Jordan over the top with through balls in the 24th and 32nd minutes. Cristian also was successful double-teaming in the middle with Friberg, and in the 58th they dispossessed Diaz, with Roldan coming away with the ball and finding Nico for the quick counter.

Late in the game the Jones/Scott partnership was continually under fire and Roldan tried in vain to help them stop the flow of attacks leaking down that side. In the 86th this meant supporting on defense, winning the ball, and earning a free kick for his efforts. I don’t think that Roldan is an Alonso replacement at this point in his career, but, to me, he is an essential piece of the defensive midfield pairing. Against Dallas he showed just how effective he can be, even without Ozzie next to him.

ATT MIDFIELD:

Herculez Gomez – 4 | Community – 5.9 (off 88’)

Gomez didn’t play well in Dallas, and I don’t see what he offers to this team on the field. He continually is a step slow, a touch off, and a person who gives zero confidence that he can step up when needed.

The little things he is missing during a game are numerous, like a 3rd minute run that he took a bad angle on, making it impossible for Jones to find him with a pass. He can’t seem to mesh with the other players, especially Morris, who multiple times got to a passing angle and put a ball near post, only to see Gomez a step late and beaten to the ball by a Dallas defender. Attacking players have to be first to that near post ball and he never is. Gomez lost possession in the 7th minute by pointlessly chunking the ball forward with no plan, but that wasn’t as frustrating as seeing another break from Gomez cleared due to a bad touch too far in front of him in the 43rd. At some point he needs to realize his own speed deficit.

In the 76th minute the Sounders had a great chance with a 4v3 and Gomez started it on its way to ruin with a poor trap. This snowballed to a pointless shot that wasn’t close. In the 78th Gomez was called for a very soft foul on Hollingshead but if Herculez had taken a better defensive angle, none of that happens. He was forced to lunge from behind and was penalized.

Gomez didn’t combine with Mears, didn’t add much defensively, was lost on offense, and took an 81st minute free kick with at least three others on the field I would have preferred take it. Oh, but he scored a goal.

Alvaro Fernandez – 4 | Community – 5.5 (off 74’)

Fernandez struggled against Dallas, never getting involved and failing to show either defensive aptitude or offensive flair. This was a disappointing outing for a guy that I expected to play much better for the Sounders.

Alvaro was fairly decent at facilitating overlaps by Jones, but wasn’t super interested in covering for him defensively. They didn’t combine well and neither was able to use the other as a means to open up sustained left sided attacks. Flaco struggled to keep possession on the wing, often being pushed off the ball and not getting calls from the referee. When Fernandez did get the ball with a chance to attack, he had Tyrone Mears disease, and would slow up, and turn back towards his own goal instead of pushing the Sounders into better attacking position.

In the 62nd minute one such chance was presented to Alvaro, and, matched up with Walker Zimmerman, he lost the ball to the Dallas defender and pouted about it as the ball went the other way. In the 69th minute he lost Hollingshead for a free header on a corner and followed this up with a hopeful shot from distance with a clear man advantage and better options in Nico and Morris.

This was Alvaro’s worst performance this season and he didn’t have any of the old flair and creativity that we hoped he would bring. He did keep the ball alive with a sliding shot/pass off a corner kick that we scored on, but otherwise didn’t add anything notable.

Nicolas Lodeiro - 7 | Community – 7.4 (MOTM)

Nico was again the engine of the team, but he was much more effective in the first half when he was able to float and create off his left foot. Credit to Dallas coach Oscar Pareja, who made great adjustments at halftime to limit Nico’s second half involvement. He also might have been tired from being repeatedly hacked.

In the 3rd minute Lodeiro found Jones over the top, and two minutes later he had a great one-time pass through to Morris. In the 9th minute he again had a tremendous look for Morris, this time passing behind the defender just a little too strongly. This was a world class look, and a pass that not many even see, let alone try.

Lodeiro took a majority of the free kicks for the Sounders, and while all were very well struck on the day, none was better than his direct goal in the 41st. The audacity to even try it from that angle was amazing, but the execution even better. Hit not only strong enough to get there before Seitz could come across, it was perfectly placed into the near corner and in a spot that wasn’t being saved. He put Morris in on goal in the 58th and had a number of other attacks, but found much less room in the second half and was forced to play a lot of defense in the middle. I suspect he loses faith in some of the role players and tries to force the ball to Morris, but other than some dispossessions and passes that didn’t connect, I thought Nico fought through eight or so tough fouls and did what he does: create goals.

FORWARD:

Jordan Morris – 6 | Community – 6.1

With players falling around him to injury, Morris has trudged on, continually showing up every game and doing his job. In this one that meant again being on an island against big center backs and trying to draw them from the middle diagonally or trying to split them and get behind.

This almost worked in the 9th minute, and I loved seeing him shoulder off the physical Zimmerman in the 14th. As he has done in increasing fashion this season, he beat his man (Hedges) in minute 24 and played a great ball into the six, only to see Gomez’ run be too late. It was Morris winning a header and flicking it far post in the 33rd minute for the Sounders first goal.

Jordan was caught offside early but was solid for the rest of the game with holdup, constantly toeing the line and doing very well in attempts to bring the rest of the team up to him. He even played defense, stepping back and winning a ball from Urruti in the 43rd. Like many of his teammates, Morris was ineffective in the second half, and Seattle ceded a huge amount of possession to Dallas, which left him isolated and without service. In the few times he did get forward, like a 58th minute outstanding through ball from Nico, his touch let him down and it was Seitz who came out to save easily. It’s expecting a lot for Jordan to carry the team by himself offensively, but there were times when a little refinement may have made him more dangerous.

SUBS:

Zach Scott – 4 | Community – 4.9 (on 63’)

Scott subbed in and did nothing positive of note. Almost immediately he and Jones struggled to contain the left side of the defense, and he was caught very far out in the 71st minute, which left holes behind him. Some of this was in support of a lagging Fernandez, but Scott’s penchant to be lured from the middle was problematic and almost immediately upon entering the game was part of a very porous left.

Free kicks, often a strength of Zach’s, were a disaster after his sub. This isn’t his fault, but rather a collective failing of the defense to correctly identify markers and stay with their men, leading to multiple open headers on set pieces and ultimately a goal. On Dallas’s winning goal it was again Scott who was not on the same page as his teammates, lagging behind the defensive line and keeping Ruiz’s smart run onside. A lot of credit must go to Ruiz, but it is telling that as a majority of his teammates stepped up together Scott was caught flat-footed.

Aaron Kovar – 5 | Community – 5.3 (on 74’)

One of the only attacking subs brought to Dallas, Kovar was brought on to spell a lagging Alvaro Fernandez. He immediately challenged for a header in midfield, showing no lingering hesitation from the collarbone break that robbed him of summer minutes. Kovar also showed us his skillset, namely an 82nd cross from the corner that froze the keeper on his line and still landed inside the six; unfortunately the chronically late Gomez was unable to reach it.

Aaron was baited by Rosales into a foul in the 84th and lost possession a few times when he really needed to come in and show some control in a game that was slipping away.

Oniel Fisher – 5 | Community – 5.0 (on 88’)

Fisher entered to play either right back or right midfield, and judging by how deep Mears stayed I assume it was one of those two positions. Fisher played a few minutes, and was marking someone on Dallas’s goal, but maybe could have stepped to Diaz faster.

REFEREE:

Mark Geiger – 2 | Community – 2.3

Look, we have all hammered Geiger this week and it’s obvious he was poor, not just for taking away a legit goal, but because the way he reffed facilitated that sort of call. He failed to protect players, like Nico being crushed behind the play in the 5th minute, without a card given, but then called inconsistent touch fouls like the Gomez foul that led to Dallas’ first goal. Speaking of that foul, none of that play would have even happened had Geiger done the correct thing in the THIRD minute. By that I mean carding Hollingshead for blatant simulation and attempting to bait the ref into a penalty kick. Giving the necessary card there likely stops Hollingshead from diving late when touched by Gomez. Giving Seitz the benefit of the doubt when it was HE who was fouling Torres was more obviously game impactful, but just as equally blatant.

See, that’s my issue with Geiger: his refusal to make the important calls early add up huge influences on the game late. If Acosta is given a yellow for his cynical 18th minute foul on Lodeiro, maybe Roldan doesn’t hip check the Dallas player in the 28th, which led to him being subbed 10 minutes later, and most likely Cristian isn’t receiving a similar foul in the 46th. Not whistling for the 51st minute Nico/Diaz tangle led directly to Roldan and Urruti tangling and when Nico again got involved he called a foul, but only after some very dangerous kicks were delivered and arms precariously swung around. Why was the play allowed to get to that point that almost got people sent off? This is about cleaning up the root cause so those early small things don’t come home to roost late.

It’s allowing Morris to undercut Matt Hedges without making any play on the ball, yet calling a foul on Zimmerman when he and Flaco went up on a fair 50/50 header and he won, and Fernandez went flying. It’s Lodeiro receiving six fouls (four called) in the first half - most of which were hard, through the ball, and intentional - without protection. It’s about Rosales coming in and not only committing four fouls but receiving multiple ones as well. After allowing Gomez to get kicked in the side early (46’) by Akindele without a card for dangerous play, you then change the entire game because when Gruezo also performed a blatant high kick in the 81st which would have been a sending off for second yellow; Geiger set a precedent to let it go with just a foul. While Seattle likely has an easier time holding onto vital point(s?) with a man advantage, don’t forget you are also helping prevent PEOPLE GETTING KICKED IN THE FACE.

Geiger was awful.

FC DALLAS MOTM:

Playmaker Mauro Diaz edged out a victory in this match’s vote with 31.4 percent, but goalscorer Carlos Ruiz got plenty of votes (as did ‘Other’, which in this case stands for 19 write-in entries for referee Mark Geiger).


It all comes down to one game for playoffs, seeding, and me winning a 6-pack of beer. A lot has to happen for the Sounders to miss the post season, but we can’t take anything for granted with how mediocre this team has played in the last week. I will be hoping for an emphatic win at home this weekend, propelling us into health and prosperity in the playoffs.

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