So much for streaks. So much for playing well. This week the mighty Seattle Sounders came crashing back down to earth after a promising stretch by losing on the road to the Colorado Rapids 1-3. This isn't the old Colorado team we are used to rolling over, though, this is a team that is 4-0 at home and has played strong attacking soccer all season. They forced the issue all night, stretching the woeful Sounders midfield and taking advantage of the forwards' unfamiliarity with each other to press high with great success. Missing a few injured players made it clear that Seattle are thin on dependable starters.
Stefan Frei - 7 | Community - 6.8
Stefan stopped a PK! I can't remember that happening before, and this was a great lunge to his right to parry the shot from Shkelzen Gashi. Frei looked so clean off his line and much more fluid than in previous attempts. This is the type of save that you can't expect, but when it happens it's an enormous boost to the team, and you saw them briefly rejuvenated.
The rest of the game Frei made the saves he should make, with a 46th minute parry of a Dominique Badji shot probably his best. He came wayyyyy off his line in the 28th to head the ball away instead of trusting Mears to recover.
Distribution on the night was OK at best. I noted both a goal kick directly out of bounds and another kicked untouched to opposing goalie Zac MacMath. Under little pressure Stefan tried to one-touch to Evans in the 53rd and the pass was awful, putting Brad in a rough spot.
I wasn't sure how to rate a keeper that keeps a game from being 4 or 5 goals against to "only" 3. But he needs to do a better job of leading from the back, and to take more charge of his line. I can't fault him on the defensive errors that led to their goals, other than wishing he could have better organized the mess in front of him. The PK save was tremendous, and should have been a catalyst for earning points.
Joevin Jones - 5 | Community - 4.2
Where has the Jones of the first few games gone? This was another underwhelming effort, although much of the blame gets shared with those around him. I consistently saw Joevin gesticulating in frustration at Anderson ahead of him, and without knowing where Oalex would be, Joevin was unable to find any consistency in going forward.
Colorado opened up by picking almost exclusively on the Sounders left side, and it was rough, with Joevin having two giveaways in the first five minutes. When he finally found room to go forward he put in a terrible return ball to Alonso in the 7th. In the 38th he was so rattled that he completely whiffed on a touch, allowing the ball to run out of bounds.
Jones had a very messy outing, and it was clear that he and Anderson don't belong on the same side until they have a lot more practice together. The second half was improved after some coaching, but Joevin works best overlapping players who know how to make smart runs and open up space he can utilize. This wasn't happening, and when your left back has the second-most touches on the team, he must have better options attacking than were provided. While there was a complete road block going forward, Jones looked clueless on what to do when he needed to play stay home, lockdown defense.
Chad Marshall - 5 | Community - 5.4
Marshall's performance fell off drastically from last week, and he looked slow and tired. What might be the most shocking after re-watching Chad's performance was just how uninvolved he was. After a week of anchoring the defense and being a constant threat on offense, Chad was just a guy against Colorado, being easily neutralized all game on both ends.
Chad follows his runners across the box well, and in the 3rd minute was forced into a slide to prevent a Gashi shot. This run came all the way across the field and it was an alert defensive play by Marshall. Set pieces were a bit of a wash for Chad, who smartly chose to redirect to a teammate on a 60th minute corner kick instead of shooting, but he also struggled defending dead balls. I THINK that Chad was floating this game, as a sort of free safety, but it flat out didn't work. If he was supposed to mark someone in the 19th when Jermaine Jones scored, it was a complete failure.
Because of the left side mess and lack of a quality hold up player like Nelson Haedo Valdez to aim for, Marshall was reduced to chunking balls out of the back directly to Rapid fullbacks. I counted many occasions when Marshall looked up, saw no one, and was forced to just clear it out of danger. This is a problem created by the lack of any coherent shape and movement from the front players to create space or passing lanes for others.
Brad Evans - 4 | Community - 4.6
Brad is another player who looked a step slow, especially with his decision-making. Although he was able to fix many mistakes by hustle or team management, I noticed many poor angles being taken all over the field, and am sure this was frustrating.
Evans stepped up quickly to help on an awful Alonso giveaway in the 11th, and his tackle in the 15th on another Ozzie pass was a smart piece of work - he slid in nicely and kept his cleats down. In the 38th I was impressed with his pace and control to beat Solignac on a Rapid breakaway.
Other than many small positional issues and a general look of dead legs in the Colorado air, Brad had two major failings in this one. The first was marking on set pieces. Yikes. His job in the 9th minute was marking Jermaine Jones, and Evans was completely beat but Jones was offside. This was a precursor to Jones' goal, when I believe Evans was trying (and failing miserably) to mark him. Not even 5 minutes later Jones AGAIN worked free for an open look on a set piece and just terrorized Brad. With Marshall either free or marking Bobby Burling (I couldn't tell), Evans was beat so badly by Jones that Mears started marking him on set plays.
Second failing: while having an awful game per his standards, Brad allowed his frustration at personal and team struggles to boil over late. After a lousy few calls went against Seattle, Brad spoke to the ref harshly enough to get multiple cautions and get sent off. I want players to care. I want players to fight and claw and stand up for teammates. I also want players to realize they need to stay on the field and a second yellow for arguing shows a severe lack of ability to read the ref. Brad needs to make better choices; he needs to lead by example.
Tyrone Mears - 5 | Community - 5.0
I am not sure what to expect out of Mears this season. This was another game where Tyrone struggled and seemed very unsure of where to be. He started well, showing some attacking desire and getting off an excellent cross in minute 7. Another cross in the 18th sandwiched a nice look forward to find Morris in the 10th. Unfortunately, that is about it for Mears' notes in the plus column.
Mears behind Morris definitely didn't work, and I saw tons of hesitation and lack of ideas in Tyrone's movement. As he has done far too often this year, in the 8th Mears had a clear chance to attack open space on his wing, and instead turned and dropped a ball back to Frei who was forced to punt away for a loss of possession. I don't know what it takes to flip that aggression button for Tyrone, but he is a much better player both ways when it's on.
I was completely disgusted to see Mears jogging back in the 11th minute and casually watching Colorado barely be thwarted by the central defenders. In the 52nd minute he had a bad touch in the midfield that was stolen, and then he again walked back to his defensive position only to be beaten for Colorado's second goal when the Rapids easily passed behind his flatfooted defense. Watching Marshall bust his ass and run past while Tyrone jogged back was ridiculous. Mears was once more beat behind in the 64th and luckily Evans was there to support.
At this point someone needs to get ahold of Tyrone and work on whether he is a stay at home defender, an attacking wing back, or something else entirely. He looks to be caught in between multiple roles, and is looking consistently poor at all of them.
Osvaldo Alonso - 6 | Community - 5.7
Until this game Ozzie has been very strong, neutralizing the fears that he's lost a step, but in this one he started off very sluggish. He was a step slow most of the game and had multiple uncharacteristic turnovers in the midfield that put the defense under enormous pressure. However, as many players looked off I will give him the benefit of the doubt.
Defensively Ozzie really struggled with helping the catastrophic left side of the Sounders. He needed to spend most of his time purging attacks through the Rapids' right side. An 11th minute fumble probably should have been scored by Colorado, and some last ditch defending was necessary. He had another completely abnormal pass-back to Evans in the 15th minute that forced a risky challenge. At times I was confused to see Ozzie joining in on the "speculative long ball" play.
After a very poor first half, Alonso was much stronger in the second, as (apparently) the coaches got players who were all over the place into a more tactically sound formation. The introduction of Friberg vastly improved the effectiveness of Alonso as well, and he filled up the book after the Swede joined. Ozzie had a great defense and attack combination in the 81st and followed this up with his first aggressive dribble in the 83rd to put Morris in on goal. A minute later Ozzie let loose with a nice shot through traffic as he was suddenly unlocked to perform. He even tried an audacious 40-yard chip from a free kick that almost caught MacMath napping.
Cristian Roldan - 5 | Community - 5.2
After a few games playing more of a destroyer role with Seattle, Roldan looked to roam a ton more against Colorado, trying to support Ozzie who was constantly pulled left. It didn't work. With no support in front of him, Roldan just didn't find the correct defensive spacing, and had very few defensive actions.
I was disappointed by the number of turnovers committed by Cristian and the lack of midfield cohesion from the three players who were supposed to be working there. One of the few times Roldan got a pass from Ozzie he just speculatively chunked it forward and he did this again in the 21st and 24th, either hoping for runs or making panicked decisions.
Roldan did recognize that Mears wasn't offering much and tried to step up on his side to provide some support, but with mixed results. Cristian looks decent when he gets forward into attack and has shown some ability to combine through the middle or flare wide to cross the ball in. It was Roldan floating into space on the left side (no idea why there was space there) in minute 63 and putting in a well-placed cross that led to the lone Seattle goal.
Roldan took a step back this week and was ball watching way too much. As with Alonso things opened up for Cristian when Erik came in to immediately impact spacing. I will be curious to see if he is swapped out for Friberg next week or they try to run 3 central players.
Andreas Ivanschitz - 5 (off 50') | Community - 4.9
Ouch. After a completely dominating performance, Andreas' play dropped off considerably, and he just never looked comfortable. A lot of this was because the team struggled to get him the ball. He only touched it 27 times (after almost 70 last game) before being mercifully subbed off in the 50th.
Ivanschitz had 2 bad pass turnovers in the first 10 minutes. It was abundantly clear that the runs from Gomez (if any) were not what he was expecting. For the second time this year (the other being in Mexico which also has considerable elevation) Andreas really struggled with set piece service. His passing completion percentage was very low, likely from not being on the same page as others rather than making bad choices.
AI does make smart third man runs and he had an open look in the 12th minute off a keeper spill that he has to do better with. Micheal Azira did pull his shoulder back but I expect more from this player. I liked his vision to find Anderson on a one-time touch in the 31st and Ivanschitz and Roldan combined well going forward in the 45th.
Andreas needs to impact the game by creating chances, and he must get a lot of touches to do so. This didn't happen and he was decidedly poor against the Rapids. I hope that this was an issue with the conditions and the lineup.
Oalex Anderson - 4 | Community - 4.4 (off 77')
I thought Anderson was absolutely dreadful in the first half. He has all the physical tools in the world, but the mental side of his game is severely lacking and his touch is inconsistent. Oalex's combination of poor positioning, movement, and passing made it very difficult for those around him to work through his side, cramping the left. His runs in forward were uninspired, and he failed to support the movement of the other two forwards.
The Sounders have always been good at tight passing on the sidelines, and this is thrown out the door with Oalex. Without tight control, the team was consistently boxed in and allowed Colorado to overload the side, forcing throw-ins and turnovers as they threw people forward on the right. In the 3rd, 26th and 28th minutes my notes just say "Where is Anderson?" as he is completely out of the screen adding zero to the team. When he is not near the ball he likes to have a sandwich and enjoy the game. I noted bad passes in the 10th and 17th. The last five minutes of the half were a disaster for Oalex, with him ball watching in the 43rd and beat, and giving up a free kick in the 46th from another bit of poor/nonexistent defending.
Oalex was more under control this game than prior, and he was making a few runs that went unrewarded. I thought his first time touch pass to the middle and Gomez's head was a tremendous decision in the 31st and the obligatory "Anderson beats defender, gets fouled for free kick and opponent yellow card" happened in the 47th.
There is some potential under the layers of rough play, but it is only barely peeking out in spurts, and I don't think Anderson is anywhere near starting level for this team. He not only puts the defense under huge pressure from his lack of movement off the ball, he is not tactically proficient enough to open up options for those around him. He needs to improve vision and touch and is a guy who can really benefit from more coaching.
Jordan Morris - 7 (MOTM) | Community - 6.9 (MOTM)
Building off the momentum of last week's strong play, Morris was the clear choice for MOTM and was the best player on the field for long stretches. I was definitely underwhelmed in the first month by Morris, but you could tell he was very confused about where he fit into the team shape. He is quickly learning just that and finding more and more success attacking defenses. It is his mental maturity that is starting to show. I see improvement every game as he finds spots to attack and takes on more responsibility. This performance within a more coherent attack is easily a higher score.
Jordan has a very high work rate and I have consistent notes of him moving and creating space or pulling defenders out of zones. In the first half I noted many strong, active runs, but he appeared to be completely left on an island by Mears, Roldan, and Gomez and unable to link up. After a very nice run in the 18th he got off a great cross that Gomez fumbled (get healthy Clint Dempsey!). His 41st minute turn and dribble forced Axel Sjoberg to foul him.
The second half was much improved for Jordan and moving central appeared to once again be a catalyst for his success. Showing off some strength in the 59th to casually brush aside Micheal Azira, Morris showed his new desire to put shots on frame and was just denied. He wouldn't be denied in the 63rd minute when after picking up a bit of a dummied ball, he took on Mekeil Williams 1v1 and both beat the defender and put a strong finish across goal. This is the kind of play that only a few weeks ago would have had him turn away from goal or look for a pass, but New JordanTM is hungry for goals.
I thought that Morris earned a penalty in the 72nd, being completely yanked on by Burling, however the strong young player kept his feet and instead of diving tried to play through it. He kept fighting all game, and was the offensive catalyst for most everything that went right for the Sounders this weekend. If he keeps learning and improving there are big things to come.
Herculez Gomez - 4 | Community - 5.1 (off 71')
After a sparkling substitute appearance in Houston, Gomez has shown little over the last two games including a start in Colorado. Although a willing runner in spurts, I thought there was zero chemistry on the forward line, and Herculez' runs were not coherent all game.
Gomez offered very little in hold up play a la Nelson Haedo Valdez, instead trying to ineffectively run at the backline of Colorado. I appreciated his willingness to drop and try to help out the Anderson/Jones left side debacle, but he ended up doing more harm than good on defense against the Rapids. It was a poor foul committed by Gomez that allowed Colorado the free kick they scored on. When given a free kick of his own Gomez offered a weak popup right to MacMath in the 27th. It was a Gomez bad pass giveaway in the 29th that should have cost Alonso a yellow for professional foul but the card luckily stayed in the pocket.
Gomez did have two notable positive plays. First was a nice hustle effort to get a shot on goal in the 12th that rarely scores, but showed energy and forced a good chance through the deflection. His best play of the night came off a smart touch from Anderson on a ball that lifted perfectly to Gomez' head - unfortunately instead of heading down he put his shot shoulder height and it was saved.
As smart as I thought Herc was against Houston, his attempts to drift wide and cross into the 6'5" Burling and 6'7" Sjoberg failed miserably. I saw very little movement that made space for others and added to the attack. When defending a corner, Herc got tangled up and pulled down a Rapids player for an obvious PK. I thought Gomez especially bad when trying to help on defense, with twice committing bad fouls that should have been 2 goals against. Poor outing from Herculez this week.
Erik Friberg - 7 | Community - 6.0 (on 50')
Welcome back Erik! What a difference his positional awareness makes. He immediately changed the entire shape of the Sounders team, taking distribution responsibilities from Roldan. I was really pleased to see what the team looked like with Erik as the engine.
There are so many little veteran adjustments that Friberg makes that may not show up in his stats but show up in others'. For example, Friberg opened up much more room for Ozzie who had a majority of his success after Erik was added to the middle. Immediately pushing high and linking to the forwards, his vertical passing and the threat of it completely changed the outlook of the game. His best play was a perfectly lifted touch pass over the defense directly onto Morris' foot, which should have been a penalty-earning play.
I noted Friberg warming up as early as the 30th minute and especially if anything is lingering with AI's thigh, Erik proved that if he can start - he should.
Aaron Kovar - 5 | Community - 4.9 (on 71')
Kovar came on and kept some width, which opened up space that the Sounders liberally attacked through. I would have liked to see him get more specifically involved, but the attacks through Alonso, Friberg, Morris, and others were aided by good off-ball runs from Aaron. He had a nice free kick service in the 79th, which was offset by a poor run-of-play cross a minute later. I would like to see more spark from guys coming in off the bench.
Dylan Remick - 6 | Community - 5.1 (on 77')
Remick again came into a game late and made a positive impact. I am not sure if he is the attacking force you want when chasing a game, but somehow it worked by pushing Jones into a more advanced role. This move opened up space on the field by having a solid defensive left back supporting the wing and taking pressure from the left side. I think Dylan has been very steady in his time on the pitch, making a good case to be the starting left back.
Jorge Gonzales - 4 | Community 3.6
Another below-average score for a referee, and one that was plagued by big errors on a few key plays. I was impressed to see Dominique Badji shown a yellow card in the very first minute, and I watched a few times to see exactly how much of a red card claim SSFC had. I think the yellow was fine, and it set the tone two ways. The first was that he wasn't afraid to card hard tackles very early, and the second that you were going to need to do something a bit drastic to earn a red. Noting that Evans kept his studs down in the 15th, Jorge only called a foul and awarded Colorado a free kick.
The ref allowed a subtle pull by Azira in the 12th to bother an Ivanschitz shot and I thought Peter Vermes would be proud of the destroying this ex-Sounder did to ankles in the midfield. His obvious foul on Mears in the 18th was correctly called by the AR who was promptly overruled by Gonzales. We know how that ended. In the 27th (and on a yellow already) Jermaine Jones took out Alonso from behind. If he's not on a card, I think it's yellow so again we see a reluctance to pull a red.
Morris was just broadside tackled by Sjoberg in the 41st minute in a very awkward challenge that I thought deserved a card, but again the resilient youth apparently didn't "sell" his foul enough to earn the right call. I agree with the penalty kick call but did note that both players were quite locked up with each other and this happened all game without any intervention. I definitely think Morris earned a PK in the 72nd minute; you shouldn't have to fall to get a foul when the guy has you in a half-nelson.
I thought all the early yellow cards were fairly cut and dried issues and not up for much debate, however the last two are confusing. It's hard to argue with the referees' authority there without having any replay whatsoever (thanks, TV guys). I find it hard to believe that a yellow wasn't sufficient, especially in light of the other opportunities with greater merit for cards than the captain arguing his case.
Evans was most likely arguing a few things. Was the second goal offside? We have no idea, but Solignac definitely was and gains a huge advantage by being so. The third goal was so blatantly offside I don't even know what to say about it. I will say that the entire play shouldn't have happened. Before the transition, Sam Cronin went in two footed studs up with intent on Kovar (same foul called on Evans in minute 15 but Cronin's studs are UP OVER WAIST HEIGHT and NO CALL). Again, the young Kovar kept his feet instead of "selling" the foul and the game played on without a whistle. We have to call fouls, whether they connect or the player rolls around on the ground.
COLORADO RAPIDS MVP
Readers (294 votes) overwhelmingly chose Jermaine Jones as the best player for the Rapids this week.
Another road game where this team came out flat. I give a lot of credit to Colorado for their improvement, but the Sounders need to play better. While there are some young players who are fighting for playing time, we haven't had anyone step up and show they can start in the absence of the big name stars. This is exactly the situation we found ourselves in last year, and that is frustrating. Let's hope the Columbus Crew's awful road record continues this weekend, and we continue getting players healthy and finding a groove.