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Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers: Player ratings

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Mike Russell / Sounder at Heart

Another disappointing loss in our overall substandard year. At times the Seattle Sounders played well enough to earn points, but a shaky transition defense and immense lack of finishing led to a 1-3 scoreline against the Portland Timbers.  Based on players' performances, these ratings are all over the map.

***

KEEPER:

Stefan Frei -€” 5 | Community - 5.5

Frei was below average this week. He had many opportunities to change the game with a big stop or to make things difficult for the Timbers with better positioning. However, Stefan just looked a bit off, and I am not sure how much of that was due to his defense being out of sync in front of him.

One thing that was apparent early was Frei's lack of clean possession. A seemingly innocuous long Alvas Powell shot in the 4th minute was right to the keeper but he allowed a huge rebound that luckily no one followed up. This sloppy control was a theme on the evening and it's very uncharacteristic of the Sounders keeper. A 24th minute save on a Lucas Melano shot was fumbled in front of the box as was a 34th minute one-armed save from a long shot. None of these plays ended in a goal, but it was disturbing to see so little control on shots Frei usually handles cleanly.

There wasn't a lot Frei could do on the goals against, being completely hung out by his defense on all three. I liked his positioning on the first and second, but I think he was caught leaning pretty badly on the third Portland goal. In the 38th he was undercut by Fanendo Adi after a punch clear and while it was an uncalled foul, his punch was to the middle and easily recycled into a shot on goal by Darlington Nagbe. Frei can do much, much better than he did this weekend.

DEFENSE:

Joevin Jones -€” 4 | Community - 4.6 (off 72')

After a MOTM-earning display of two-way soccer midweek, Jones turned in a clunker against Portland. Throughout the game he was particularly poor on defense and failed to support the attack with much conviction.

Some games Jones just doesn't seem to come to play and this was definitely one of those. In the 4th minute he displayed very passive defense that allowed a Powell shot, and he followed this up two minutes later by nonchalantly dribbling out of bounds. After being beat by Lucas Melano down the line multiple times in the first 20 minutes, Joevin increased his defensive workload with a number of poor clearing passes, often missing his target and seeing the ball shoved immediately back down his wing.

In the 37th Jones was beat and gave up a free kick in a bad spot and earned a yellow for it. He was VERY lucky to be still on the field right after halftime when he fouled Darlington Nagbe in transition on a play that should have seen him sent off for caution accumulation. In the 50th minute Jones just flat out takes a lousy angle on Diego Valeri, fails to stay goal side of the Timbers star, and concedes a goal.

Jones definitely has the talent to be a dynamic outside back, but his play is constantly vacillating with last weekend's game a forgettable display. I saw some good 1v1 defense in the 36th on Nagbe and a nice pass forward in the 53rd as positives, but was really upset to see poor defense and no inclination to join the attack later in the game. After receiving a 63rd minute drop from Ivanschitz with the entire corner of the 18 to dribble into, Jones casually stopped the ball and looped a lousy cross into the defense. Where was that pressing desire that we saw only a few days ago? After jogging back casually on defense during their third goal instead of being proactive, I completely understand why he was subbed out of the game.

Chad Marshall -€” 7 | Community - 6.3

With Portland playing a single hold-up striker, it was often not Chad's responsibility to match up with anyone, instead needing to locate and defend Melano or Valeri as they drifted into his zone. He did a good job with this for the most part, and when matched up with the powerful Adi did well to hold his ground.

The 8th minute was one of the few times that Valeri got open in the box, and it took a great Marshall challenge to prevent his shot. While not having many notable defensive plays, he did lead the team in tackles, clearances, and blocked shots. Chad's distribution was a bit spotty, and he rarely completed any of his long passes.

This weekend saw the return of the offensive juggernaut that is Marshall, with Chad being a complete beast on set pieces. On corner and free kicks Marshall was often either winning a header or subtly picking off people with his wide frame to free up his teammates. His best header was obviously the 59th minute rocket that went through Portland keeper Jake Gleeson for the only Sounders goal, but I was equally impressed with his 63rd minute win in traffic that redirected the ball into a dangerous spot.

Chad again showed how dominant he can be when the ball is aimed at his head, but his lack of speed was exposed on some of the quick Portland counterattacks.

Brad Evans -€” 6 | Community - 5.6

Evans was not as effective as Marshall on set pieces, but his distribution from the back was very good. It helped out Alonso and Friberg who were pressured into lower than usual completion percentages.

Matched up with Adi, who I think is the best target forward in the game, Evans held his own for the most part. He was beat badly in the 8th minute after diving in but looked to have learned his lesson quickly and in 1v1 battles in the 10th, 23rd and 31st it was Evans who came away the victor. Briefly after this last clash it was nice to see Brad convert this defense into a counterattack following a strong tackle. He finished off his war with Adi with a tremendous tackle in the 81st.

In the 44th minute when forced into a nasty 1v2 defensive spot due to some lousy wide play I think Brad will be upset with the angle he took to defend the counter. When presented with a fast but lousy finisher wide (Melano) and a slower but great finisher inside (Valeri) I think the correct play would be to force Melano down the wing and expect your keeper to save a near post shot. Instead, Evans tried to play both attackers straight up, allowing a centering pass to Valeri who beat Frei with a well-placed shot. This was much less about Evans' defense than about great counterattacking and finishing, but he might opt to force the play wider next time. Tremendous positioning in the 38th minute to head a ball off the line after Frei was fouled.

Tyrone Mears -€” 3 | Community - 4.4

Mears was simply awful in this game. I don't know any other way to describe his incredibly bad defending, passive offensive contributions, and lousy, apathetic play. He was a miserable 0-6 on crosses and desperately needs to change his play from incessant, useless service.

It took me all of 35 seconds of watching the game to be upset about Mears, as his first touch was to one-time the ball backwards with plenty of space in front of him - no hint of attacking desire. In that same minute he did eventually get forward long enough to send a soft cross directly to Gleeson. Three minutes later he sent in a probing long ball to no one on his own team.

In the 12th minute Mears completely lost Melano, allowing the Timber behind him on goal and only an awful finishing touch kept him off the scoreboard. In the 15th Tyrone didn't even look at the space in front of him (there was a lot!) and in the 18th did his usual "step on the ball, pull it backwards" move.  In the 22nd he had an open defensive header with Cristian close and open and instead needlessly headed it forward to the defense.

A 24th minute overlap led to another worthless cross to no one and it happened yet again in the 33rd. Mears and Roldan were never on the same page, and it was a massive series of blunders from Tyrone that allowed Portland to score right before half. Mears managed to completely misplay a header, dive in and get beat on defense, get nutmegged, and then fail to recover effectively in a 30 second horror show ending in the Valeri goal. This was a comedy of errors and a completely preventable play that put the Sounders down at half.

In the 64th minute there were multiple opportunities for Mears to stop the dribble down the middle but instead he just kept backpedaling, keeping everyone onside for the third Portland tally. This was just chaotic defending on a counterattack. He followed this up with two more worthless crosses in the 75th and 80th.

Mears had a few positive marks:  21st minute anticipation defense on Melano, a 52nd minute free kick won on a (rare) effective run forward, and a 66th minute overlap where he just missed cutting the ball back to a wide open Ivanschitz. Other than these few plays, Tyrone didn't play well and he went from not helping to actively hurting the team.

MIDFIELD:

Osvaldo Alonso -€” 6 | Community - 6.3

Caught up in a personal battle with Nagbe, Jack Jewsbury, and Diego Chara all game, Alonso had a quiet, steady performance. His passing numbers were lower than normal in volume and percentage, but the Cuban still managed to control the play and turned in a workmanlike performance in the midfield.

I give Alonso and Friberg a lot of credit for mostly containing the dangerous Nagbe in this game, with Ozzie often shouldering the job of defending the Portland star 1v1. No one completely shuts him down and in the 7th Nagbe got around Alonso and into the attack. Ozzie returned the favor in the 24th, stealing the ball and turning it the other way. Unfortunately after being beat later in the game Alonso was forced to foul, and the yellow card earned means he misses the next league game.

I was surprised to see Ozzie beat by Chara and unable to catch him a few times; Alonso is known for great recovery speed. In the 31st he was ball watching, and Valeri was able to sneak behind him and into the box for a shot. Alonso did get into the attack in the second half, the highlights being a 51st minute probing ball to Morris and a great 80th minute switching pass.

Cristian Roldan -€” 7 (MOTM) | Community - 6.4 (MOTM)

Cristian continues to grow into his talent, and this game saw him earn his first MOTM award from me. I believe Roldan is starting to become a valuable part of the team with his ability to cover ground, play tight controlled passes, release people in front of him, and pop up in dangerous attacking positions. He was a defense-first player earlier in the year but is showing tremendous growth in attacking prowess. He was one of the bright spots against Portland.

In the 22nd minute I thought he showed too much of the ball to Jermaine Taylor and lost it, but that was the only negative mark for Cristian until another dribbling error late. On the plus side Roldan played a pure winger role this week and looked like our best attacking threat. He was the only player to consistently get Morris the ball in good spots, and his passes in the 14th, 28th, and 35th created great chances for the star striker.

Directly after halftime Cristian was unlucky not to have his second goal in two games with a simply magnificent shot after a steal. Unwilling to just concede possession, Roldan attacked Jewsbury and after taking the ball from him drove at goal alone and audaciously put in a 25-yard shot headed for the top corner that somehow Gleeson turned away.

Roldan really impressed later in the game as he continued his high work rate till the very end, unlike many players who faded. In the 81st Cristian again showed tremendous ability in the air and his header forced another fantastic save from Gleeson, this time with his feet. I was excited to see Roldan still playing hard in the 85th minute and the offensive side of his game was really improved against Portland.

Erik Friberg -€” 6 | Community - 5.2

Seattle has been playing Friberg and Alonso very square to each other lately, with Erik a somewhat more mobile and box to box runner and Ozzie staying home. This has generally worked, but it puts greater responsibility on Friberg to defend and as a result he struggles to impact the offense.

I really like Erik's defensive effort and think it is the highest on the team at times. For instance, he tracked down Melano with a recovery tackle in the 8th minute and in the 18th his transition defense was wonderful. On this play he really hustled back on a Portland break out, passing both Alonso and Roldan and showing huge effort. The 61st minute saw Erik playing central in between Marshall and Evans and it was his defensive positioning that greatly helped prevent a goal.

Other than a beautiful first time pass to Ivanschitz in the box in the 17th that led to a Morris miss, Erik wasn't often part of the attack, instead being a facilitator in bringing the ball into the attacking third. There were multiple times that his passing went awry, but they merely killed attacking momentum without putting the team under pressure. He did have a bad foul in the 76th that escaped being carded because Marrufo.

Andreas Ivanschitz -€” 7 | Community - 5.1 (off 72')

I was surprised during my re-watch to see how well Ivanschitz played. He was involved in a majority of the Sounders attacks in the first half as well as consistently serving in quality set pieces. He took a whopping TWELVE corners, and I rated nine of them as high quality, with the other three being close enough for Gleeson to either punch or catch.

Andreas' best field play came early, an inspired run forward that saw him collect a ball in the box, beat a defender to the end line and lay a perfect dropping ball to Morris with the entire goal at his behest. A minute later he put in a great cross that Valdez jumped too early for and missed. I liked seeing an early cross to Valdez in the 32nd that although it didn't connect was low and hard and allowed the forward to run onto the ball. Ivanschitz lost Valeri ball-watching in the 50th minute, and this forced Jones into an undesirable 1v1 defensive test that he ultimately failed.

In the second half Andreas had one assist and probably deserved at least three. His 48th minute corner perfectly found an unmarked Valdez who squandered the chance. In the 59th minute he found Valdez again for a header that was saved by Gleeson out for another chance, and on this occasion AI dialed up Marshall for the lone Sounders goal. In the 62nd Andreas found Morris in behind but the young striker misplayed the ball.

Ivanschitz is a glass cannon at this point in his career and doesn't offer a lot of two-way play. His set piece delivery is a joy to see and in this game was a huge bright spot. He remains a complementary player that can provide attacking, but he isn't more than a positional defender and he tires late.

FORWARDS:

Nelson Haedo Valdez -€” 4 | Community - 4.3 (off 77')

When Valdez held possession between two defenders in the 2nd minute and earned a corner kick I was hopeful for what he could offer against Portland. Unfortunately hustle just isn't enough these days and I was thoroughly underwhelmed by the Paraguayan contributions.

In the 8th minute Nelson had a nice holdup but his pass to AI was sloppy and a minute later he wasn't a good option for Morris. This would be a recurring theme on the night, Valdez and Morris being in each other's way/not moving smartly for the other. I caught this blatantly in the 3rd, 13th and 42nd, each time both making the same run or bringing defense to the other instead of making space.

In the 20th and 23rd Valdez had chances to keep possession and lost it, and in the 29th his attack was simply destroyed by Nat Borchers' defending. After a juggling, unnecessary cross, Valdez finished the half losing possession in the Portland box, which was then counter attacked through Mears and into the Sounders goal.

Valdez improved in the second half, making more space and getting more chances but still squandering them spectacularly. A 48th minute corner from Andreas gave him a free header with an open goal and he headed the ball down a foot in front of him while allowing the defense to recover and eventually clear wide. A few minutes later he found a loose ball on the penalty spot with no pressure and rushed his shot 30 rows into the Timbers Army.

Nelson hustled all game and his pressure forced a few turnovers that didn't amount to much. His 59th minute header off a corner kick was well struck but Gleeson was able to save. I think having his aerial presence did free up Marshall to be more effective on set pieces, but Valdez simply has to convert on the five or so great chances he was provided win this game or add something tangible offensively.

Jordan Morris -€” 5 | Community - 5.5

Morris looked confused and lost when trying to work with Valdez up top, with both consistently moving into the same spaces and making similar runs. He must get better at adjusting to the players around him and making runs off them, instead of being invisible for large stretches of games while he tries to figure out where to go.

In the first half Morris found the ball infrequently, and was better with hold up and possessing the ball than his strike partner. Multiple times he made darting diagonal runs from a central area and was able to get shots off after receiving smart passes from Roldan. No one else on the team seemed able to read his movements, however, and lots of wasted runs were aimlessly pointed wide or stopped offside.

Jordan was much less decisive in this contest than he has been lately, something I attribute to playing with Valdez up top. He often took too many touches to gain his bearing, and this led to turnovers on chances that he should have attacked with purpose. This hesitation in decision-making was a killer throughout.

Morris completely flubbed the best chance of the night, when Ivanschitz dropped a perfect ball to him in the 17th and he let the ball roll to his right foot and subsequently put the ball over instead of in the open net in front of him. That was a huge opportunity that would have changed the game completely; he has to do better.

SUBS:

Aaron Kovar -€” 6 | Community - 5.0 (on 72')

Aaron's first touch was a free kick and it was underwhelming. He offered a bit of a spark off the bench, instantly providing recovery defense and stealing the ball from Chara. Two minutes after entering he showed his chemistry with Jordan, sending him a great ball in the box. After keeping possession nicely under pressure in the 80th Aaron put in his best work a minute later. Drifting back toward his own goal, Kovar cut onto his non-dominant right foot, created space, and lofted a perfect cross to Roldan who barely missed a header.  My last note about Aaron was his curious choice to take an 86th minute set piece short to Remick, instead of attacking the box and looking for the head of a dominant Chad Marshall.

Dylan Remick -€” 5 | Community - 5.0 (on 72')

This sub confused me until I realized that Jones didn't seem to be putting in much effort and saw Evans push more into the middle. I think the plan was a modified 3-5-2 formation and Sigi wanted to have a fresh left back to transition and right wing to support. This failed with Portland dominating the ball in the last 20 minutes and Seattle failing to threaten the goal much from the run of play. Remick made four solid defensive plays and looked to be a defensive upgrade on the left, but was unable to add anything going forward. In a game where we were chasing goals, the gamble that his play would free up others didn't seem to work.

Herculez Gomez -€” 5 | Community - 4.5 (on 77')

His first touch in the attack with space in front of him was to drop the ball to Mears. I saw nothing from Gomez to be remotely excited about with an 88th minute cross being his only decent play. In the 90th he was beaten to the ball and this was directly from a lack of hustle. He took a dive in the 91st that was two feet from even being in the box. This sub did nothing to improve our chances.

REFEREE:

Jair Marrufo -€” 3 | Community - 5.3

It's a rivalry game so let's use a referee who won't call fouls. Sigh. This wasn't quite on par with 39 missed fouls called last year vs. SKC but it was close. Marrufo's style allowed way too much contact and left the players on both teams scratching their heads about a lack of control.

When Marrufo called Adi for fouling Evans in the corner in the 1st minute I thought maybe this would be different. Boy was I wrong. Not only was the referee reluctant to call fouls at all, I thought many should have been card worthy. An early example was Alonso cleaning out Valeri in the 3rd minute making zero play on the ball. At least he called that one a foul, it followed up no less than four fouls in a 30 second sequence including a Valeri obstruction on AI and Roldan being first held, then kicked, and finally upended, any of which were worth a whistle.

There was a ton of wrestling between Seattle center backs and Adi on the night and I thought he earned at least one PK when Marshall held him in the 67th, but I don't know if this ever happens if Fanendo is correctly cautioned for one of his myriad of fouls committed prior. Amazing how often Adi ends up on the ground when he thinks he can't control a ball, and I thought the 8th minute no-call was correct but he got away with hitting Valdez in the face on a 30th minute corner and dangerously undercut Frei in the 38th. This play almost resulted in a Nagbe goal; no foul called. Other plays he pulled Evans down and dove onto Alonso in the box. Adi looked to be consistently allowed to punish the defenders or in lieu of possession he'd attempt to dive to create set pieces. On the flip side, Valdez was fouled in the box by Ridgewell in the 36th that Simon Borg agreed was deserving of a PK for the Sounders.

Taylor wasn't warned in the 8th minute after his second called (and 5th total) foul. I thought Jewsbury's kick out on Marshall was originally deserving of a red but the replay showed him pull his studs back a bit (Marrufo was never going red anyway). A Melano high kick in the 39th almost took someone's face off, and right before half Evans had a professional foul on Nagbe not only allowed as advantage, he somehow escaped a deserved yellow.

A similarly cynical foul by Chara in the 19th had failed to garner a yellow, yet I have idea how Joevin Jones survived being sent off in the 46th after stopping a break with a foul. I am not sure why Adi wasn't ruled offside or coming from an offside position on his goal, apparently it was ruled that he reset himself. Compared to the rest of the officiating I thought this was only minor.

By my count the Timbers had a good argument that they deserved a PK and a red card against in this one, and the Sounders a PK and at the very least multiple yellows against, yet almost none of this happened because Marrufo.

TIMBERS MOTM:

This was an easy one, as nearly 80 percent of respondents chose Diego Valeri with his two goals as the best performance for the Timbers.

timbers motm

***

This was a choppy, frustrating game that hurts all the more because it was against a rival. There were plenty of opportunities for the Sounders to change their game state yet once again the team failed to capitalize on chances as well as their opponents did. It is bewildering to see such lousy form by a team that has talent. On the docket is a weekend journey to SKC. Yikes.