Well, there’s a lot to unpack from last weekend’s game. The score ended in a 3-3 draw between the Sounders and New England Revolution, but along the way we saw a horrible keeper blunder and the away team race to a 3-0 lead via strong tactics and some luck. And we watched the home squad fight back, peppering the Revolution goal with a record number of shots, finally getting enough into the back of the net to earn a point. Not exactly a game of two halves, but a match that both teams dominated in their own fashion.
Stefan Frei - 5 | Community - 5.1
Keepers are taught at a young age to put their knee down to block low shots and keep your body in front, but Frei was lazy and used only his hands. Now we all know he took full responsibility for it, and that is why we love the guy, but this was a huge gaffe. Maybe it’s lack of concentration or something else, but he had a similar play against SKC in the opener last year, and just as he gets accolades when he makes incredible saves, he gets dinged for major blunders.
Unfortunately, that mistake was huge. #GoalsChangeGames. The defense did a good job forcing a routine save and he flubbed it, and suddenly a team that was bunkering and countering had no reason to change their tactics. The first goal is so crucial that we simply can’t give away cheap ones like that.
For nearly the rest of the game Frei was solid, saving clean in the 11th on Diego Fagundez, and saving an 18th minute shot from Daigo Kobayashi wide. In the 42nd Frei had a wonderful save, diving to his left to stop Fagundez, and it was nice to see him stay dialed in after the early mistake. It’s great that the team rescued him by scoring three, but the defense and Frei especially needs to be much, much better. There wasn’t much he could do on the final two goals against, but the organization starts with him and he was part of a team that gave up three goals at home.
Joevin Jones - 6 | Community - 6.3
Jones was one of the hardest players to rate in this game. He was non-existent to bad for the first 70 minutes of the game, and then went beast mode in the last 20 and had two assists. He had both good and bad stats, especially a sparkling 97% accuracy on passing from 133 (!!!) touches. Unfortunately, that included a dreadful 2/12 on crossing (both his assists).
It was apparent that the Revolution diamond shifted to their right specifically to limit Jones, and he ran into the speed of Andrew Farrell while being double-teamed by Scott Caldwell to boot. This completely limited Jones, at the cost of zero offensive push from Caldwell. All too often Joevin settled for hopeful crosses, and was unsuccessful dribbling or linking anything toward the middle. On the initial goal, Jones was caught upfield, forcing Alonso wide to cover his position and opening the massive space that Kobayashi enjoyed on his way to scoring a long-range shot.
In the 26th minute Jones again impacted a goal, this time keeping Juan Agudelo onside while marking nothing. In the 50th minute Jones had given up playing any kind of defense and Caldwell, on a rare foray forward, found himself with the ball wide open for a shot he missed. This scare didn’t faze Jones, who stayed forward and was caught upfield just four minutes later as Agudelo scored again, off a counter on his side.
Other than a perfect looping far post cross that Bruin and Morris failed to finish, Jones struggled to get involved in the game until around the 70th minute. With Je-Vaughn Watson into the defense and Harry Shipp on the Sounders offense, suddenly Jones was everywhere. He took a fantastic direct shot on goal that forced a deflection from Revolution keeper Cody Cropper in the 73rd. Two minutes later Jones was wonderfully patient to find a cut-back pass to Lodeiro for the initial Sounder goal. Instead of forcing another long cross, he waited for the angle and delivered the first of two assists. A minute later Jones persisted to repeatedly win the ball and force attacks forward. In the 85th minute Joevin earned assist No. 2, this time sending in an early cross to the near post, something lacking previously in the match.
It’s difficult to be constantly double-teamed with an ineffective winger ahead of you, but Jones looked uninterested in trying early on, taking what they gave him and nothing more. As the Sounders had some success up his wing, he in turn ratcheted up his aggressiveness, and good things followed. He will need to ensure that his defensive duties are better handled than they were against NE. Jones remains the best offensive left back in the league.
Tony Alfaro – 5 | Community - 5.4 (off 84’)
New England did a great job exposing Seattle’s inexperienced backline. Alfaro seemed to struggle quite a bit. He had very few notable defensive actions, and his positioning was often suspect. He did get the fifth most touches on the team and had a very impressive 87% passing rate.
Early on we saw some communication issues in the backline, and in the 2nd minute Alfaro was slow to rotate over to help Svensson, although his slide tackle was very nice in defense. In the 11th Tony was marking nothing, while keeping NE players onside, all the while ignoring Fagundez who was dangerously attacking. It was disappointing to see a lack of tactical defensive positioning with Alfaro’s movement, and he didn’t step to the ball four minutes later when Kobayashi unloaded from distance. On the 26th minute Agudelo goal it looks like Tony hands off the Revs player to Svensson, but then proceeds to take a few steps forward and mark absolutely nothing. This communication, especially when dealing with an outnumbered attack, must improve.
Alfaro did well the rest of the match, and with the game so spread out we got to see his quality distribution and long ball touch. There are some small things he needs to improve on, like how the counter attacks looked to completely befuddle the defense. Letting Lee Nguyen settle a long ball in the 58th minute was a major mistake, allowing a playmaker to turn and direct traffic when Alfaro should have bodied him up. These are fixable issues, but his inexperience showed.
Gustav Svensson – 5 | Community - 5.3
Unlike his CB partner, Svensson had a lot of defensive actions, including three interceptions, six clearances, and two tackles. He also had 93% completion on his passes, highlighted by a tidy 7/9 long balls.
All the stats in the world can’t hide that this backline struggled. With Alfaro and Svensson the only defenders at times, they really struggled to handle transition play. Goose started out being caught forward, and then adjusted well to stay home against the NE runs, but there was a giant hole in front of the defense that was continually exploited on the counter attack. The Sounders failed to prevent Agudelo from near perfect hold-up play to jump start many attacks, although they limited his opportunities. While Svensson won four aerials, it was his poor positioning in the 26th minute that allowed an Agudelo header to double the Revs lead. He must be goal side of the player there. When New England was breaking in the 54th, Svensson was caught diving in and beat by a dummy run, which allowed a three on one behind him and a third goal.
I doubt that Goose was happy with his performance, but he can feel good about many solid decisions chasing the game; many of the attacks from Seattle originated with a smart pass by Svensson. He also had the game-tying assist, floating into a dangerous spot and flicking far post to be finished by Alonso. This was one of multiple occasions he has looked strong in attacking positions. Gustav has shown a weakness in defending angled crosses, and right now that is a giant hole in an otherwise solid skill set.
Jordy Delem – 5 | Community - 4.5 (off 55’)
After a sterling appearance in LA, Delem failed to match that performance at home this week. The New England game plan looked specifically designed to make Delem beat them, and he struggled immensely with decision making going forward. Unlike his compatriot on the other side of defense, Jordy only attempted four crosses. Instead, he chose to cut back and try other options, which often led to turnovers.
Delem had some nice plays early, recovering well in the 7th to break up a pass and making a far-post cross in the 10th which nearly connected. In the 36th he won a free kick in a great spot and defensively read another play well in the 41st. Otherwise, Delem really struggled. He failed to connect passes with teammates, and attacks often died on his side even though Kelyn Rowe gave him tons of space to work. It was a Delem header turnover that started New England’s first goal sequence in the 15th and three minutes later another bad control ignited a counterattack.
Jordy has a habit of recovering to space — when coming back on defense he runs back to his own box but then doesn’t know exactly where to go. This was apparent on the 26th minute goal scoring play, as both Roldan and Svensson emphatically waved Delem to mark someone and instead of advancing to shut down the cross, he was caught watching, and the goal was scored. This happened again in the 42nd minute. When not 1v1 defending, he is very slow picking up marks in transition.
Osvaldo Alonso – 8 (MOTM) | Community - 7.5 (MOTM)
Like many of his teammates, Alonso was quiet in the first half. This was both a good and a bad thing. There was a concerted effort to get Ozzie and Roldan involved in the attack, which was great for overloading the New England diamond midfield and creating waves of scoring opportunities, but it also left the middle vulnerable to counters, on which the Revolution capitalized. Ozzie was steady, with 95% completion on 93 passes, and was 8/10 on longballs.
Staying higher made Alonso more offensive, and his four shots and three key passes were evidence of a guy pushing the team forward through the middle. The first was a great 22nd minute shot that was saved for a corner kick. In the 47th he tried the diagonal cross to the far post and once again found Dempsey who missed a header. A minute later Ozzie cranked a rocket left footed side volley that beat Cropper but thumped off the cross bar. In the 80th he again tried a cross from a deep angle and found Bruin, who missed a chance. Still intense as ever, it was none other than Alonso who popped up far post to nod a Svensson flick into the back of the net and save a home point.
Playing so offensively meant Alonso was unable to recover in the 54th minute as New England countered right down the field and scored. There is a definite tradeoff to keeping the defensive mids so high and isolating the central defenders. Ozzie did a wonderful job of controlling the middle and especially in the second half was a big reason the Sounders ended up with 26 shots.
Cristian Roldan – 7 | Community - 6.8
This game had some good Roldan moments, but there were times when the defensive mids left the backline out to dry. Roldan roamed far offensively like we haven’t seen much of this year. Cristian led the team in passes with a whopping 105, and his 88% completion rate was awesome. His 8/11 on long balls shows how smart he is with distribution.
The big problem with attacking so furiously up the middle is the shape of the defense behind. In the 11th when Cristian lost possession high, there was no help behind him as New England countered through the open middle. This was the case again four minutes later as Roldan dove in and was beaten well up the field, opening the middle that Kobayashi utilized to start the scoring. These gaps were generally closed for the rest of the game, with both Alonso and Roldan taking turns to better anchor the middle.
Like Alonso, Roldan got an early chance at a volley and hit it just over in the 5th. In the 17th we saw one of his beast mode runs through traffic, taking knocks, and stumbling forward through multiple players, only to end with a bad pass out of bounds. Most of this game was Roldan getting the ball and changing the point of attack, switching strongly to Delem or Jones, and rarely finding vertical options. He did hustle everywhere, and the amount of ground he covered this game was impressive. I liked seeing him mix it up with center backs in the box and believe if the defensive adjustments can be made, having more support from the defensive mids will unleash our attack.
Jordan Morris – 5 | Community - 5.7 (off 68’)
After a successful win with Morris on the wing, many were ready to give him that spot for the rest of the season, but it’s likely this latest performance pumped the brakes on that idea. There were some very bright spots for Jordan, but also many struggles in an outing that ended with him subbed early after re-aggravating his ankle. He touched the ball a paltry 27 times (compared to Shipp who subbed in for him and had 26) but did manage a few good chances.
One big issue with Morris on the wing is the lack of direct play that would really help the team. In the 6th with wing space available, Jordan held the ball and let the defense catch up to him. In the 8th on a break, he made a poor pass that was easily stopped instead of connecting with a dangerous Bruin run. In the 39th he was 1v1 with a defender attacking the goal and he faded away from the defense, settling for a weak cross. It doesn’t appear that putting Jordan wide has made him any more goal-direct.
Morris kept trying to find spaces, and he found Alonso with a dropping pass in the 22nd for a shot. In the 31st Morris was again on the right side, this time in the box and only a mistimed jump stopped him from having an open goal header. In the 64th Jordan’s highlight was an outside-in run that put Dempsey clean through on goal. Morris was hacked on the play, but he got a shot off that beat the keeper only to clang off the post. This foul (uncalled) ended his day early.
Morris had a tough time opening space for Jones, as evidenced by Joevin’s improved play after this sub, and his best moments came from when Morris was pushed high like a forward. This game didn’t make the case for Jordan as a winger like the LA game did.
Clint Dempsey - 6 | Community - 6.4
I was down on Dempsey live, but the re-watch showed he did many small things to earn an average score this week. Not only did he lead the team with six shots, Dempsey kicked in SIX key passes, and likely deserved an assist or two after putting guys in great positions to score on multiple occasions.
Clint dropped early into the defensive third and supported the transition, and his movement created space. Morris took this space in the 15th minute but Dempsey’s through ball missed his wide-open teammate. In the 22nd Clint was lurking unmarked for a header put wide. Two bad controls in the 24th and 26th were very unlike Deuce, and the second led directly to a goal; his failure to clear a corner allowed New England to recycle their offense and score. A similar situation happened on the last Revolution goal as Dempsey was caught in possession well up field and the counter attack after losing the ball was devastating.
Dempsey kept trying to connect with people and continued to put players in great positions with little positive results. He found another good spot, and another missed header in the 38th. A third miss in the 47th was another open header from a diagonal cross from Alonso. Clint’s best play happened in the 64th as he drew multiple defenders to him and then slipped Morris into the space he had created with a smart vertical pass that ended with Jordan’s shot glancing off the post. Dempsey nearly connected on a game winning assist to Bruin in the 91st, slipping a lob over the top that was just a hair too long.
With a defense packed in to stop him, Dempsey instead set up others and did well for the most part, allowing others to drift wide and cross while he stayed central as an option, but he failed to have much success going directly at goal himself.
Nicolas Lodeiro – 8 | Community - 7.3
Nico was one of the few effective players for the Sounders in the first half, and I am really excited about his continued improvement after a rough start to the season. He got a ton of touches this game and a 88% completion number from a guy who tries as many attacking passes is fantastic. Nico also had two shots, three key passes, and the very important first goal that started the comeback.
I liked seeing Nico take a quick throw in/flick and earn a corner in the 5th minute and he had exceptional movement the entire game. In the 14th this movement overloaded the left from a central run and created a great chance. Nico was everywhere, poking and prodding and nearly putting Morris through in the 29th. Always thinking directly, Nico easily beat Cropper on a free kick in minute 36, only to be thwarted by the crossbar.
Lodeiro kept moving around looking for space, and largely ignored the ineffective Delem to wander over and overload the left with the more capable Jones. This came to fruition in the 75th as once again Nico floated through zone 14 and found himself unmarked in the box. Joevin patiently waited for this run to materialize and put a nice pass that Nico redirected into the goal. It was deflected, but was goal bound either way. There were two short free kicks and a short cross but otherwise Nico played clean, attacking soccer. He needs to connect better with teammates via short passes instead of settling for crosses (4/14).
Will Bruin – 7 | Community - 6.9
This was a much different outing for Bruin than his first, as Will was actively banging with center backs and ranging more than prior. He was one of the players who disappeared for long stretches of this game, and at times he and Morris were playing on top of each other (each took a header from the other who might have scored had they had the chance).
Bruin had the worst passing numbers (62%) and it showed with multiple failures to connect with teammates, limiting his hold-up effectiveness. When he wasn’t on the ball, I was impressed with Bruin; his runs are very intelligent. A 10th minute backside run ended with a wide header, and in the 36th he was perfectly on the end of the Nico crossbar shot, but headed the ball forward instead of down and Agudelo managed to block it. Bruin isn’t a defender and failed miserably to contain Rowe in the 26th after a corner, which resulted in a goal.
In the second half Bruin came alive, igniting his teammates with spirited activity and effort. In the 64th his hold up touch off a checking run was beautiful, and he found Dempsey perfectly to put Morris through on goal. In the 76th Will made a near post run, a run I’d been shouting at them to make all game. This time, the result was a disputed goal kick, but that set the stage for his 85th minute near post run that created a perfect header opportunity that he buried for Sounders goal number two. The fight in Bruin was intense, and he was very close to getting on the end of a game winner from Dempsey in the 91st.
Henry Wingo – 5 | Community - 5.6 (on 55’)
Wingo got a lot of time in this game, and I wasn’t very impressed. He did offer a ton of pace and direct play, but he was very disorganized. Clearly instructed to go right at people in the space Nico vacated, Henry tried and failed in the 59th 1v1. He struggled to find Dempsey’s feet, so much so that Clint repeatedly pointed at them to remind Henry where he wanted the ball instead of six feet in front of him where passes in the 61st, 64th, and 74th went. He had little luck getting around Rowe, and was roundly beat in the 78th.
Defensively, Wingo was adequate, although getting physically pushed over by the diminutive Fagundez was shocking. A weak tackle attempt in the 82nd helped New England get a breakaway. The threat of Wingo was much more effective than his actual play.
Harry Shipp – 6 | Community - 5.9 (on 68’)
Shipp came in and suddenly the Sounders played better. There are likely many other factors, but Harry dropped in with 26 passes, completed 92% of them, was tidy on long balls, and offered some traffic control through the middle. Immediately showing a dogged determination on the wing to win a ball defensively in the 71st, Shipp played mainly through the middle while moving around to facilitate shape. He found Dempsey and Nico and held the middle defensively as the Sounders pushed massive numbers forward. He did miss marking Femi Hollinger-Janzen as a runner in the middle in the 89th which could have been a devastating goal.
Roman Torres – 6 | Community - 5.9 (on 84’)
Asked to be an energetic banger to try to get on the end of some crosses, Torres did just that. He showed massive hustle and brought a liveliness to the comeback. He didn’t have many touches but managed a shot and was effective occupying the attention of defenders which opened lanes for his teammates. In the 90th minute he had time with a ton of space and instead tried a diving header pass that failed. It’s good to see him healthy enough to be back on the field.
Alan Chapman – 5 | Community - 4.8
Chapman didn’t call many fouls (10 total) but did give out two cards. I thought he was good for most of the game, with the score line dictating a lot of one-sided action.
He missed fouls in the 6th and 34th, with players also confused when there was no whistle. There was a call in the 35th on Mlinar Delamea, but I thought it deserved a yellow card, and a strong look at more with the studs up on the follow through that only looked okay because Delem completely bailed out on the pass. In the 64th Farrell fouled Morris in a play that likely gets looked at as potential scissor/endangering the safety red card anywhere else, but because he got a shot off that hit the post … nothing was called? It was a definite foul which would have been a PK had it been called.
Speaking of penalties, I think many refs would have called a penalty on Dempsey a minute later, this one for a push. I watched multiple times and there isn’t much contact, but I would want that called in my favor. In the 68th Roldan was fouled without a call and the yellow for Bruin was both hilarious, and justified.
Juan Agudelo was a constant thorn in the side for the Sounders in this match, always there to counterattack whenever the Sounders’ near-constant possession broke down. He gets over two-thirds of the vote.
This was a game that I truly believe, had Seattle scored first, they likely would have run the Revolution off the field. This upcoming weekend it’s essential that the Sounders score first against a Toronto team that is much better than the squad we just played.