I’ll be honest: I don’t care much for the Sounders/Timbers rivalry. It’s played a lot, the fans are even more vitriolic, and the games just seem to bring out the worst in people. Add to that triple-digit temperatures and you had a recipe for disaster. When Seattle started out fast, I was reservedly optimistic, but the triple jeopardy call near the end of the half and subsequent loss of concentration just had the makings of another disaster game. Halftime came to the rescue of a disjointed squad and somehow Seattle was the better team in both halves. The 2-2 final score was indicative of mental toughness on the road like we haven’t seen this season. As devastating as the midweek tie was for a team that is looking for a spark, the weekend draw may have been just what they needed.
Stefan Frei – 6 l Community - 6.7
Stefan had a fairly mundane game, amassing just a single recorded save (it was a great one), as Seattle defended well throughout and prevented Frei from needing to do much other than direct traffic and keep his players tight in front of him, even when playing the entire second half down a man.
In the 11th minute Frei was asked to deal with a great Portland chance and he was up to the task, sprawling wide and using a kick save to deny Fanendo Adi on one of the few times the Timbers’ striker managed to stay on his feet in the game. This was a very important save that preserved Seattle’s forward momentum and allowed them to take a lead 15 minutes later. Unfortunately, he guessed the wrong way on the penalty and he had little chance at the header goal. I thought he might have been able to really hustle and prevent the corner that Portland scored on.
The second half was tougher for Frei but he wasn’t tested much. Twice he looked like he lost track of the ball – in the 68th when he and Torres badly misplayed a Nouhou throw and again in the 80th when a floated cross went all the way across goal and somehow both Frei and Dairon Asprilla missed it.
Joevin Jones – 7 (off 57’) l Community - 6.6
Jones had an up and down game, but looked again strong as a left back.
As Seattle started to exert its will on the game after the first 15 minutes, Portland still found some luck through Asprilla, who tied Jones in a knot in the 20th to create a dangerous chance. A few minutes later Joevin had a poor clearance that was immediately countered back into danger. A 25th minute nutmeg seemed to invigorate Jones, and after he won a free kick he was active up the left. He showed tremendous anticipation in the 27th, sneaking up the line to pounce on a header backwards from Powell and juke before hitting a strong shot on goal. This shot forced a desperation save from keeper Jake Gleeson, which fortuitously landed back at Jones’ feet. Impressively, he had zero hesitation upon being presented with his second right-footed strike in a row and hit a well-placed, first-time shot into the back of the net. This was a very tough series of plays that highlights how amazing Jones can be.
Joevin struggled a little defensively after his goal, however, failing to close out Diego Chara in the 36th that allowed a cross to a header that hit the woodwork, and botching a simple header back to Frei in the 48th that resulted in a corner kick on which Portland scored. In the second half, Jones was good both ways; a 50th minute interception and a 52nd minute overlap and cross showed his ability to excel from left back but he struggled immensely to impact after his goal. He was subbed in the 57th with apparent injury concerns after an up and down match.
Chad Marshall – 7 (MOTM) l Community - 6.8
Everyone on the backline had a rollercoaster of a game except Chad. Boring game from Marshall as usual: 90% passing rate, 5 clearances, 2 interceptions, 3 blocked shots, and 0 fouls committed to a constantly diving Adi. I had zero negative marks for Marshall on the night and even when forced into a three-man backline, Chad just went about his business stopping guys from putting the ball in the net.
In the 18th minute Marshall showed his perfect positioning and combined it with a perfect defensive header, directly to a waiting Alonso. In the 34th he was across to defend nicely, and on the night Chad spent plenty of time mopping up around his fellow defenders. The shots he blocked were especially important, preventing a quality long-shot team from so much as testing Frei from distance. Even after getting his bell rung on a clearance to the face, Marshall was timely in defense in the 84th, charging back to prevent an Adi tap-in on the back post after Diego Valeri had found some space. Chad even went forward and in the 92nd and was in the thick of it, making stuff happen with his head and feet inside the Portland box.
This is likely a bit of a surprise MOTM award, but after looking at my notebook and seeing zero issues while playing 95 minutes without being beat I think its appropriate to award the guy that gave us the chance to come back, with some MVP level defending all match.
Roman Torres – 5 l Community - 5.7
Roman struggled again in this match, at times finding it hard to keep his positioning but still retaining a physical presence on the field. His passing was good, as usual a bit more daring than others, which resulted in 4/11 passes completed via long balls. Torres led the team with 7 clearances, and he was quite happy to boot the ball away, especially when playing down a man.
The best moments from Roman came in the first half, when he had Evans to his right and could find incisive passing lanes forward with Brad spreading the field. A 4th minute pass found Morris in the box. In the 15th minute Torres beat Adi on defense, and in the 21st he correctly found a free Adi in the box, hustled goal side, and diving headered away a ball intended for the Portland striker. Around this time Roman started to struggle, not getting goal side of Lawrence Olum on a corner kick and chunking forward a 22nd minute longball right to Timbers keeper Jake Gleeson. After being beat by Asprilla and saved when his header clattered off the crossbar, Roman tried a carbon copy diving header from 22 minutes before with much worse results in minute 43. The header is “whatever” to me, he slipped, it happens, and unfortunately it was terrible and resulted in Evans getting carded off the field. The real issue for me is that EVERYONE else steps as a unit and Torres fails to do so, which allows him to be isolated on Adi in the first place. This is poor communication and positioning, which dominoed into a terrible end to the half.
I marked Torres down for a bad giveaway to start the second half, beat a few times but generally OK due to some very questionable Portland attacking desire. He still makes defense look harder than necessary, and needs to better coordinate with his team around him. The 94th minute positioning, touch to control, and perfectly lofted cross for the game ~winning~ assist was as good as you will see from any player on the field, let alone a massive center defender.
Brad Evans – 5 (off RC 44’) l Community - 5.0
Brad was really hard to rate. He was fantastic in the first half, and like Marshall had few negative marks in my notebook. When Seattle needed someone to lock down the right defensively against Valeri or Nagbe floating, Brad was there. When Portland shifted to their right to defend against Morris or Jones pushing high, Evans adeptly charged into this space, timing his runs to perfection again and again. His passing from the back and positional play both ripped apart the Timbers midfield and stopped multiple attacks before they could start. He was three minutes away from being without a doubt my first half MOTM.
In the 4th minute Evans earned a corner, pressing high, and 4 minutes later he again overlapped and earned a set piece, this time a freekick from a forced hand ball. Brad’s vision and passing is so good from deep positions: he turned a Frei throw from the box into immediate offense by collecting the ball, turning swiftly, and finding the movement of Lodeiro. In the 18th he again pushed a tidy ball through traffic perfectly to pick out Roldan. Defensively I was impressed by a beautiful 1v2 defensive stop that forced Adi into a pass instead of a shot on goal. In minute 18 Evans tried a unique angled run into the box, and pointed to a spot that Nico found expertly; Evans’ cut-back pass nearly found a Sounder. In the 40th minute Evans lulled the defense to sleep before bursting up into space and getting a ball down the right side, cutting in a strong cross looking for Bruin.
Unfortunately his day was to end soon thereafter via a red card. I don’t want to spend all day talking about this but it’s my opinion that the red+pk is too much penalty for the foul committed. I don’t think it was serious foul play, and neither did the ref as he stated it was DOGSO. I watched this a ton of times and I honestly see him make a desperation attempt at the ball and gets Nagbe. I believe this rule was changed to include the option for a yellow card foul in these instances, and that option should have been chosen. I see why the ref went red, but I clearly see a realistic attempt at the ball and a non-serious foul. Oh well. Brad also got a red returning from injury last year and it’s frustrating because in hindsight, a lot went wrong there that wasn’t his fault, but ultimately his decision cost him 1.5 games. He was playing fantastic prior to the play.
Osvaldo Alonso – 7 l Community - 6.8
Ozzie seemed somewhat subdued against Portland, and although he committed 4 fouls, none were overly harsh or cynical, which is rare when playing our rivals to the south. Alonso controlled the midfield well, had over 90% completion rate and led the team in touches. Sometimes a quiet game from the middle can be a good thing, and in this case, it was for Ozzie.
Many of my notes were about tactical positioning, and both Alonso and Svensson did a very nice job shielding the back line from the movement of Valeri and Nagbe, especially after Seattle was forced to play down a man. In the first half, the offense ran fluidly though movement by Evans and Lodeiro, and Alonso was quick to find the former wide in spaces and the latter with short, concise touches in the middle of the field. On the first Portland goal Alonso completely lost the run of Nagbe, and that forced Evans into a tough spot. This has been a blind spot for the defensive mids; I can’t imagine that letting midfield runners simple access to space in the box is a planned strategy.
The second half was much quieter than you would think being down a man, and again Alonso cut out passing lanes and found teammates but didn’t do anything special. This was enough, because he and his midfield dominated a team with an extra man. His 88th minute foul on Valeri was in a bad spot, but he made up for it in minute 94; presented with options he chose Torres to lay the ball off to, and the rest is Timber Tears.
Gustav Svensson – 6 l Community - 6.4
Playing alongside Alonso, I thought Svensson again did well to combine with his Cuban teammate to destroy midfield play, as the two of them did a very nice job against a strong Timbers attack. Svensson was much more willing to push balls forward than Alonso, and earned a key pass for his efforts. While Goose’s passing was OK, he really excelled in the air, winning a team-high 5 aerials, which is impressive out of the midfield. He also chipped in 4 blocked shots, which was key in denying a team willing to test the defense from distance.
While Alonso was tidy, Goose had many more turnovers starting with a costly one in the 11th on a corner kick that was immediately pushed downfield for a save-forcing shot. Five minutes later he showed the offensive vision, releasing Roldan into the opponent’s box. Another poor pass on the right in the 26th ended up as a 50/50 with Adi. In the 43rd minute Svensson, similarly to Alonso, released Powell to no one in the box, which led to a glut of Timber attackers in the area and eventually a goal. A few minutes later Svensson slipped on defense and couldn’t recover, as Asprilla rose over him to give Portland a 2-1 lead going into half.
The second half was controlled by the Seattle movement and precision, and Svensson was a big part of limiting Portland attacks. I noted a dangerous non-foul contact play in the 76th he was lucky to get away with and while he was quiet, Goose was consistently in the right place to block shots in the second half.
Cristian Roldan – 6 l Community - 7.0
While I’m glad he’s so versatile, this was the worst of the three positions that Roldan played last week. He was still MLS average, and that says a lot about this young star. He didn’t touch the ball too much, but had near 80% completion rate and found 2 key passes, which co-led the team. Cristian’s ability to find his friend Jordan is becoming something special, and these two will likely combine for a goal sooner or later.
I was surprised to see Roldan bursting down the left side in the 3rd minute, showing off a slick chop dribble which beat his man and got him into the box. There was a lot of contact, but Roldan kept his feet on an occasion where the Adi’s and Altidore’s of the world are skipping to the penalty spot after being snipered. Offered the chance to take a free kick in the 11th Roldan put it short. There weren’t a lot of notable moments before the red card, and Cristian was just all over the place trying to keep shape and help without much success.
The second half moved Roldan to a position popularized by Roger Levesque, sliding into formidfender on the right side. He offered strong service from the right size, and was consistently back on defense supporting Torres. In the 93rd minute he thrashed Asprilla, created a turnover, and recycled the ball for Seattle to score the ~winning~ goal.
Nicolas Lodeiro – 7 l Community - 6.5
Lodeiro really upped his game against Portland, showing the most energy of anyone on the field for long spurts. For his troubles, he was fouled 5 more times, bringing his total this season to 387*. When not picking himself up off the ground, Nico really pushed Seattle’s attack forward. He “only” had 2 key passes, but attempted 9 balls into the Portland 18-yard box, constantly poking for a goal. Nico’s set pieces this game were tremendous, with his first 7 deliveries from free kicks and corners nearly perfect, only tiring late which resulted in 3 miscues.
In the 5th minute Nico’s defense started a counter attack, and a few minutes later it was again his work on the defensive side of the ball that clogged the passing lane for Nagbe. In the 18th Lodeiro found Evans with a unique angled underlapping run into the box. If you want to see the difference between basic player and DP, look no farther than the 42nd minute featuring Nico Lodeiro. He first-time chest controlled the ball facing his own goal before unleashing a spinning half volley perfectly to a streaking Morris on the 18 in the same motion, a move so technically beautiful and far more deserving of a finish than it received. (This would have put Seattle up 2-0 btw with 11 players still eligible).
The second half was slower for Seattle, and Nico did more defensive work while still finding Jones through in the 52nd or earning a corner after a great shot from distance in the 73rd. I still think he is going to ground too easily, and this reputation for diving allows him to get hacked more, as referees are reluctant to call legitimate fouls. *stat courtesy of Spenser Davis
Jordan Morris – 5 (off 56’) l Community - 5.3
I dunno. This wasn’t a game that supported the “Morris is a winger” argument, that’s for sure. He touched the ball 20 times, 7 fewer than the player who replaced him and a massive 30 fewer than Roldan across from him. Jordan didn’t have great results, although I appreciate that he worked hard.
In the 4th minute he got into the box on the end of a nice pass from Torres. In the 20th Morris gave up possession too softly on the wing, and this was easily and immediately put back into the Seattle defensive third. Jordan nearly found Nico in the 37th but was a moment too late and the Uruguayan was called offsides. In the 42nd with Bruin dropping to midfield Morris found his chance to make a central run towards goal and not only was Lodeiro up to the task, the pass was amazing: perfect and right into Jordan’s stride. Somehow, he misjudged the ball’s flight, missed the chance, and the ball was gathered in by Gleeson.
I keep thinking that Morris is destined to start putting some of these away. Several of his runs were very nice, but he must do better with the chances he’s given, and until he does so, he will keep getting low grades.
Will Bruin – 5 (off 87’) l Community - 6.0
If you had told me that Bruin didn’t play in this game I might have believed you. He played 31 more minutes than Morris and had the same low number of touches! Bruin did manage a shot and won 4 aerials, occupying the center backs, and creating space until the red card. When he touched the ball he did stellar hold up work, rarely losing possession from the front. This was very important against a counter attacking team like Portland, especially when down a player.
Will did get a good look on a 4th minute header, nodding over the bar, but was beat himself by Vytas in the 20th – luckily Evans was there to help. Bruin did a lot of little things that moved the defense around. I especially appreciated a 39th minute movement that opened a clear lane for Evans to pass out of pressure to feet, instead of forcing a speculative long ball up field. He made the wrong run for Nico on several occasions. Overall I thought Bruin was startlingly absent for most of this game.
Clint Dempsey – 7 (on 56’) l Community - 7.5 (MOTM)
Starting the game off resting on the bench is a rarity for Dempsey, but he did exactly what you want from a substitute. He had read the game, knew that he needed to provide a change of pace and be a difference maker in the final third, and he did just that. His inclusion changed the game by giving the away team an outlet forward who would both facilitate and go straight at goal. He tuned in 3 dribbles, 2 shots, some fancy dribbling, and a game ~winning~ goal.
Immediately after subbing Dempsey played defense, obviously realizing his tired teammates needed a work rate for his 30 minutes. In the 64th Clint controlled a pass, beat two players, but then ran into a wall and halfheartedly dove, looking for a bail out call. In the 67th Dempsey spotted Gleeson cheating and tried an audacious 40-yard chip that nearly went. In the 85th Clint was just clowning people, showing 1v3 dribbling skills that opened space for everyone around him.
Minute 94’: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Nouhou – 6 (on 57’) l Community - 6.5
Get on that Nouhou train. Scott Burbidge has been touting this youngster for two seasons now and we are starting to see what this young left back can offer. Look, Nouhou dove in badly in the 76th and missed at the top of the box on Powell and it could have been terrible, but otherwise he was better than the guy he replaced who happened to have scored the first goal of the game. Nouhou plays with reckless abandon but it’s more like controlled chaos abandon.
In the 59th minute he earned a free kick and a minute later smartly ushered a ball out for a goal kick. In the 69th he was across in perfect defensive position to clear – unfortunately Dad’s face got in the way. In the 81st Asprilla thought he had finally beat Nouhou only to be dispossessed by an absolutely beautiful tackle in the box. Eight minutes later something similar happened, with a tackle in the box against Asprilla giving a corner but stopping the attack.
Nouhou is really raw, and that’s exciting. He makes crazy backheels and has no fear of sliding inside his own 18, and if these plays are working and not hurting the team, I am all for allowing this kid his flair. CHOO CHOO.
Aaron Kovar – 5 (on 87’) l Community - 5.7
Kovar came on late to offer some speed and he did that. He possesses not just quickness of feet but also moves the ball fast, and this helped Seattle transition well with him on the field. In the 93rd he dialed up a dangerous long throw and otherwise was a pest both offensively and defensively. In the 95th minute after being called for a foul challenging Vytas for a long Frei punt, he showed his veteran soccer mind by casually chesting and pushing the ball further up field, killing an extra few moments.
Ricardo Salazar – 6 l Community - 4.9
Salazar is ultimately going to be judged on how you rate the red card. For me, I thought Evans made a legitimate play on the ball, and it seems the new rules meant that could have been interpreted as a yellow and a PK, so as not to unjustly penalize a team. I can easily see the flip side, and my last comment on this is we just don’t seem to ever get the Rave Green call from refs. Oh well.
For the rest of the game Ricardo did well. I was especially impressed with a 10th minute yellow given to Powell; after Salazar allowed some advantage he brought the ball back and awarded the card and free kick. Salazar was completely uninterested in Adi’s fragile balance, and the Timbers forward was ignored as he flopped around for a majority of the game. The same went for Nico, who, while getting a ton of fouls received, also went to ground easily, and was rightfully ignored a few times. A 34th minute Valeri diving attempt into the box earned a foul, but no PK as Salazar planted the kick correctly outside the area.
An Alonso hold on Nagbe in the 19th and Goose’s late foul in the 26th both should have been yellows, and I thought David Guzman definitely earned a yellow on the way to 6 called fouls committed. The most egregious non-call in this game was a 63rd minute Adi play where he jumped into Nouhou and karate kicked him completely out of the direction of his run; somehow no foul was called. That was dirty and deserved much more.
Finally, I would like to compliment Salazar on how well he handled the Marshall head injury. He immediately stopped play for trauma to the head and ignored that idiot Adi whining about possession and playing on. It was refreshing to see a referee actually put the health of players first, and not just use that wording to hand out cards.
Portland Timbers MOTM:
Dairon Asprilla took the most votes for this match, but Darlington Nagbe’s efforts earned nearly a quarter of the tally as well.
So, there you have it, a Seattle tie that felt like a win, and some great momentum heading into Colorado on the 4th. This is a fantastic chance to help our away record against a team that hasn’t been playing very well.