On Saturday the Seattle Sounders laid an egg. A 0-2 loss to New York City FC at home is not acceptable. Even less acceptable is the complete lack of effort from numerous players throughout this game. This isn't a great team right now, and when we play like that we aren't even a good team. I am hugely disappointed in many of the players, and with the team for not challenging each other to put the ball in the damn net. There is no real excuse for this result. We've got to see a decided change in mentality the next time we take the field, or the season is truly over. Both myself and my young new friend Valerie I met at the 90 pregame are disappointed in you Sounders. Do better. Be better.
Stefan Frei - 7 (MOTM) | Community - 5.8 (MOTM)
Frei was one of the few who played with intensity throughout this game, and he kept the team in the game with multiple early big time saves.
NYCFC allowed Seattle to play out of the back, and Stefan was his usual consistent self, finding good choices in distribution both short and long, and taking few chances. There were no chances for Frei to start a break long, as New York was good at dropping quickly in defense. Instead he played short and controlled possession while supporting his back line to push higher.
David Villa is a tremendous player, and he only needs a few inches to get a shot off. Stefan did well to get down quickly and prevent a goal on one such play in the 10th minute. He saved another Villa attempt in the 50th.
Frei had two particularly outstanding saves in this one, the first being a huge stop off an awkward deflection in the 41st that was immediately after the first goal and would have been a catastrophic tally to concede. Deflected shots are nearly impossible to predict, and Frei had amazing reflexes to get fingertips to the ball and push it around the goal for a corner. I though his other great play was on the second goal, and it wasn't scored by lack of Stefan's effort. He suckered Villa into a tight touch 1v1, and then did a spectacular double leap to first cover goal and second punch the ball away from the NYCFC striker, all the while not fouling him. This really would have been more talked about had the ball not deflected right to another opponent and eventually find Ronald Matarrita who finished from 18 yards out.
In a game devoid of any obvious standouts, I thought Frei did a great job keeping his team in the game, even while others around him failed to produce. He was the best of a lousy bunch of options for MOTM.
Dylan Remick - 6 | Community - 4.5 (off 57')
Remick had another good, unspectacular game. He doesn't do anything to put the team under unnecessary pressure defensively, and he doesn't have the sexy attacking chops of other left wingers, but he does his job well every match.
Dylan wasn't able to consistently find any space working up the left side, as the wide player in front of him was quite unpredictable and there was a distinct lack of cohesiveness between these two. He did manage to put a nice pass through to Morris in the 2nd minute for his lone attacking pass. The rest of his passing was tidy (94%) but not in attacking spaces.
I was impressed with Remick's 1v1 defense in the 26th minute; it seems he's learned much better positioning under Leo Gonzalez' mentoring in the last few years than his early MLS days. As a result, very few attacks were successful through his side, and I like the connection and communication that Dylan is showing with Marshall next to him. I have no idea why he was subbed in the 57th minute other than coach Sigi Schmid may not think he offers a lot going forward and wanted to have a more offensive left back.
Chad Marshall - 6 | Community - 5.4
Chad had very few notable actions on either side of the notebook this week and did a tidy job of ushering the NYCFC attack away from goal.
He showed his usual aerial dominance, winning each of the attempts he had on defensive headers. On offense this week Marshall got on the end of two set pieces, putting both on frame but without creating any definitive chances. The 85th minute free kick header was particularly nice and set up for a finish, but he was unable to get enough power on it to threaten Josh Saunders.
Chad played shut-down defense, rarely got beat, and did his job. He offers very little passing forward, but did have one nice attempt to put Kovar over the top in the 34th minute that was close to connecting.
The defense has been playing very well lately and yet is losing games while giving up multiple goals a game. I find that many of the issues are because our offense is not moving the ball forward or keeping possession in the final third. When guys like Chad and Brad and Tyrone are seeing as much of the ball as Alonso and Friberg did in this game, there is a big problem with the team.
Brad Evans - 6 | Community - 5.5
Brad bounced back after a rough touch that put a fork in the last game with a very good appearance at home against NYCFC. A lot might be said about his words after the game, but he led on the field with great effort and some solid play as well.
Tasked with primarily marking Villa, Evans did an excellent job, shutting him down in the 8th and 13th minutes in particular. There were stellar defensive plays in the 22nd, 30th, and 31st as well. As the game got into the second half and the Sounders pressed forward more due to trailing, Evans was matched up with Villa in more space, and he had to rely on unpredictable last ditch slide tackles to keep the New York attack in check. Fortunately, it worked, stopping yet another Villa breakaway in the 55th and blocking a wide open Frank Lampard's shot a minute later.
Brad showed some dribbling skill early to jumpstart the offense, yet failed to follow this up by pushing forward with any consistency. I thought he made a poor decision to guard the 6-yard line instead of Villa in the 50th and was lucky the opposing striker didn't score. I think Brad can add even more to the offense, and unfortunately it's sorely needed lately.
Tyrone Mears - 6 | Community - 4.9
When I looked at the stat sheet I was really surprised to see that Tyrone had managed 3 key passes. Then I noted that 2 of the 3 were after the second goal and had come from set piece delivery. This sort of sums up Mears on the night: another game where he aggressively entered the attacking third way too late in the match to be an asset. And when he did Tyrone was infuriatingly good at it in a way that's confusing: why he is so darn passive the first 75 minutes of games?
Mears was beat by Villa in the 10th minute but luckily Frei was able to make a save behind him. The rest of his first half was a fairly quiet one that saw Tyrone stay home, support the middle, and pass frequently backwards and horizontally. He had a nice overlap in the 27th that got him into a good space, but his pass went directly to a defender.
The second half was somewhat more risky, finally seeing Mears get up into the attack. Unfortunately it took a missed 63rd minute back heel from Friberg to where he SHOULD have been to wake Tyrone up and get him into the attack. In the 67th he pushed up with purpose and earned a nice set piece location after being fouled.
As I mentioned earlier, Mears had two opportunities to send in set pieces and did well with both. He had some positioning issues such as not being goal side in the 73rd minute that luckily didn't hurt the team, but overall this was a rather mundane, boring effort.
Osvaldo Alonso - 6 | Community - 5.4
Alonso did a ton of work in the middle, but against the relative lack of movement from Andrea Pirlo I really thought Ozzie would look much stronger. It wasn't anything in particular, but I was hoping for much more impact in the center of the field.
In the 13th minute Ozzie had a great switch to AI that started an attack. He mixed in a typical Alonso destroyer defense/tackle/recovery turned into counter attack combo in the 19th. There was another good switch to Jones in the 58th, but there weren't a lot of recordable moments from Ozzie. In fact, he was basically silent on big actions again until the 79th when his perfect back post ball to Anderson almost found its way into the net.
Ozzie was very solid and forced most of the attacks wide, but I was underwhelmed by what should have been a very positive matchup for him to impose more influence on the game.
Erik Friberg - 6 | Community - 5.0
Erik also had a relatively quiet game in the midfield, unable to find that bit of brilliance that would unlock the defense. It wasn't for lack of trying, and at times Friberg and Ivanschitz were the only two to look forward with any urgency.
In minute 1, Erik continued a recent trend of popping up in the box with a vertical run, but his cross was not stellar. I thought his 16th minute curling pass was just great and reminded me of a right footed AI pass but again results were lacking. Friberg worked well with Alonso in the middle but like his counterpart wasn't able to do much more than neutralize the NYCFC midfield. He did have a beautiful cross in the 74th minute on one of the few advances forward and wide in the second half.
Erik continued to sprinkle in some of the random misplays that still seem to plague him at times, with poor passes that can destroy an attack. The most egregious time was missing Morris on a wide open break in the 34th. Like Alonso, there were not a lot of notable plays, rather a generally decent flow and lack of either big mistakes or big successes.
Andreas Ivanschitz - 6 | Community - 4.5
Andreas was once again the main attacking facilitator, repeatedly trying to feed people through on goal and floating to his left to set up plays. In this game he was less effective than last week in imposing his will and finding room to put others on goal. Even with his struggles, it was clear that he was the only offensive spark often.
I noted how active Andreas was in this game, consistently moving to space and interacting better with the forwards, but he struggled to get the ball with any room to operate and was unable to connect with attackers in the first half. He did have two set pieces, and put a wonderful free kick untouched on the far 6 and a corner that found Marshall's head, but without results.
In the second half Ivanschitz made some changes and found some spaces to feed passes through. In the 50th he put a simply amazing pass around two defenders to put Morris on goal. He followed this up 5 minutes later finding Kovar on an angle. In the 67th and 76th he put two free kicks on the head of Valdez, both creating very dangerous chances.
At times Andreas really disappeared from this game and I would have liked to see him press Pirlo and others in the middle a bit more than he did. I like seeing the development of his game to a version that can find usefulness, but he simply doesn't have enough skills or options to completely dominate a game. When he tires he completely vanishes from the field and I hope the reintroduction of Clint Dempsey as a support teammate will help him succeed.
Joevin Jones - 2 | Community - 3.0
This was the second week with Jones at a high wide left position, and after looking like a spark off the bench in some early sub appearances, he was simply awful going 90 in this one. I admit I was biased against him when I saw him here again but he did little to change the opinion I had going into the game that he wasn't suited for this role.
First the good: I thought he stretched the field nicely in the 9th minute. He should have earned an orange card on Ronald Matarrita who chased him down and scissored him after being chopped in the 36th.
Onto the bad. Ugh. First off in giant letters I have WALKING/NO EFFORT. This was a repetitive note for the duration of the contest. This guy looked both lost and uninterested. In the first 10 minutes I noted that he only moved when the ball was close to him, and even when every other player on the field was at least jogging he was standing or walking. On his first play Joevin lost the ball on a hold up and stood there watching the ball go the other way. In the 13th minute Morris smartly cut half the field down on defense only to see NYCFC easily pass the ball through Jones' side since he refused to move and support the pressure that the central attacker was exerting.
In the 19th minute Jones made a halfhearted attempt at a ball that ended up out of bounds. In the 38th minute scoring play it was Joevin who was "marking" Rj Allen, who easily controlled around the immobile Jones and dumped a ball into danger. The second half saw no improvement; in the 52nd after losing a ball Joevin casually jogged back. In the 54th his awful touch turnover led to another zero effort attempt to regain possession. He was beat in the 82nd by Harrison, and in game full of poor play, his 87th minute awful drop pass to Frei was maybe the worst. After that terrible ball to Vill in the box, Jones stood there, making no effort to hustle back and rectify his mistake.
This was not only a poor outing from a skills and results perspective, I simply can't forgive the complete lack of effort from Jones. I understand part of his job is to play high and make width, but he simply quit on this team and showed one of highest lack of effort games I have seen at the MLS level. This was embarrassing and unacceptable.
Jordan Morris - 6 | Community - 4.8
Morris worked really hard in this game, but again had nothing to show for it. He is another player who is being asked to take on much more of a burden on this team than is perhaps fair or what he can handle at this point in his career. I am impressed by his continued hard work up front against multiple defenders consistently and really hope that he isn't being overused. This could lead to a point that he burns out and regresses due to being continually against horrific situations to attack, yet retaining catastrophically high unfair expectations to carry a team.
In the 2nd minute he held up a ball and also turned it into the attack proficiently. After working free in the 16th he failed to get his shot on frame; it was also weak. I like seeing Jordan constantly moving up front, but other than AI he isn't receiving a lot of service into dangerous spots. One such play came in the 50th through Ivanschitz but Jordan's near post shot after a good run wasn't to be.
Even though Morris is making these decent chances each game, none of them are dangerous enough to show me that he is a one man wrecking crew. He is really close to being spectacular at times but ot breaking through. I was impressed with Jordan's run in the 5th to get even close to a stellar Kovar pass, but he really needs to open up and complete the play with his left foot; instead he reached across with his right. This is something playing with Clint will hopefully teach him. His dummy in the 74th was inspired and another thing that a player like Dempsey will utilize in the future. For now, he is just not getting enough help to be THE singular force.
Aaron Kovar - 6 | Community - 4.4 (off 66')
Another steady game for Aaron that accentuated both what he does well and his struggles. Aaron has really improved into a guy that many are completely ok with starting these days, although he isn't offering anything spectacular.
What Kovar does offer is great width and positioning, both of which were in evidence on Saturday. He also works better than anyone else on the team with Morris, as evidenced by his awesome 5th minute play. Shouldering off a defender in the corner, Kovar faked left and got off a perfect cross with his right foot into the path of a diving Morris on a play that was very close to scoring. This sort of play happens multiple times in each game and while I am encouraged by the consistent creation, we would all love to see more of these plays come to fruition.
Aaron worked really hard on defense Saturday, and his side of the field was strong in limiting NYCFC attacks. He tried to get to good attacking places, but as I noted, he isn't going to be a guy we should be depending on to be a main creative force and other than a nice move and cross in the 47th I didn't have a lot of specific time stamps for plays where Kovar was goal dangerous.
Multiple times in this one Aaron forced the ball left and missed an overlapping Mears or another player by dribbling into danger. He needs to recognize the defenses against him and get the ball off his foot quicker. I see a lot of potential in what he is trying to accomplish, but Kovar is either forcing himself or the ball into bad places and I would love to see him pick his head up and find the guys making runs around him (if they are moving).
Nelson Haedo Valdez - 6 | Community - 4.1 (on 57')
Nelson is a guy who I think we might all like a lot more if he had just showed up this week and put in that performance. It wasn't great, and definitely wasn't flashy, but he did a lot more good than bad. For Valdez, the issue is that he just isn't a creator, and when combined with Morris up front we have two central point men who aren't creators and end up in being in each other's space a majority of the time.
I liked his 62nd minute run to open up the backside - something this team wasn't doing much of up to that point. Nelson showed why he is so dangerous in the air on consecutive set pieces, first getting a header on a near post touch from AI and then making a smart decision on a 76th minute ball to head back into the middle looking for a teammate. Valdez opened up nicely in the 79th for Anderson, presenting a smart option.
I would love to get a ton more output from a DP spot, and this wasn't really the spark we needed off the bench this game. Valdez did show some worth, just not under the current circumstances.
Cristian Roldan - 5 | Community - 4.4 (on 66')
Cristian came on and again was asked to be a bit of an attacking player which shows great confidence in his creativity that I am not sure is warranted at this point in his development. He is definitely showing a lot of improvement in this part of his game, and in the 69th he received a through ball in the attack but put in a bad cross to finish the play. Looking to return the favor, he almost put Valdez through on goal in the 75th but his pass was a bit too strong.
Roldan did have a nice attack in the 75th that not only won a free kick but also a yellow card for Andoni Iraola. When compared to everyone around him with over 90% passing (and a team combined 85% or so) his 60% completion rate was poor, although I believe a majority of that to be due to at least trying to push the ball forward.
Oalex Anderson - 5 | Community - 4.0 (on 77')
Oalex Anderson is back! That means direct runs and a single minded desire to shove the ball immediately at goal. When combined with the players on the field, he seemed a good choice to offset a lot of square passing and backwards possession.
Anderson immediately stepped onto the field and his pace separated himself and the ball from the defense, getting in a decent cross. The only player at times willing to attack, he unfortunately is still an unfinished project, and showed his immaturity on the field with some aimless runs and speculative movement. In the 70th minute he had a golden chance to make a huge play on an Alonso pass, but was unable to show that he is ready for this level by finishing the attack. He consistently earns free kicks with his pace and style, but still needs a lot of work on where to be at during gameplay.
Alan Kelly - 5 | Community - 3.7
Kelly kept track of this game fairly well, but I was unimpressed with a number of calls. First off I have no idea how Matarrita not only didn't get a card but also finished this game on the field. He had numerous fouls that were deliberate and retaliatory and dangerous. This simply can't be allowed to happen and his 67th minute scissor should have easily been his second card at the minimum.
In the 8th Lampard got the superstar no-call on a foul and Kelly not being able to figure out 10 yards on a corner kick in the 35th was really frustrating. Equally as annoying was NYCFC immediately scoring off the ensuing corner. I think Kelly got the handball wrong, but it's hard for me to blame him for missing it. We need replay or goal line tech or something to alleviate the burden on referees to make these difficult calls. I DO however blame him for taking upwards of 3 minutes making dinner plans with his AR to discuss something. If you didn't see it and he didn't see it play on. Point at the center circle and get the game restarted. The dramatic huddle and re-huddle was ridiculous. At least he called a soft yellow on Thomas McNamara a few minutes later, that totally makes up for it.
I wasn't impressed with the ref allowing Saunders to stall in the 46th minute, and he continued this in the 58th without a warning. Valdez being bearhugged and brought down in the 71st by Frederic Brillant didn't so much as get a whiff of a PK. Most of the rest of the game was called fairly and decently, with an elusive advantage call or two thrown in for good measure.
There wasn't a runaway winner, but out of 200 reader responses, Andrea Pirlo took the top spot at 29.5 percent of the vote.
This was a massively disappointing game. Looking at the team prior most would have thought we would earn 3 points. I sure did. Hopefully buoyed by a strong performance from role players in the Open Cup we will go to Toronto this weekend and play better. There is easily an opportunity to have a higher level of intensity in the next match and that will go a long way to helping us attempt to claw back into playoff contention. 2-3 wins in a row and we can put a ton of pressure on the teams currently ahead of us.
Side note: The next ratings post may be delayed, as the Sounders 2034 youth DP baby Realio is working at coming into the world VERY soon.