‘lo there. We have come to the
halfway point, midseason, Gold Cup break...???% of the way through the season, so logically its time to do a little recap of how the boys are doing so far in the first 22 games of the season (through the 0-0 draw with the LA Galaxy on 7/29). I’ve averaged my player ratings from all 22 matches and separated them into various categories, with some insightful commentary on each—as usual.
The Kid Phenom:
Cristian Roldan – 6.952
Who else? The best player for the Sounders this year has been so good he was called up to the US national team. Cristian Roldan has been a revelation since the hiring of coach Brian Schmetzer, as he’s parlayed his awesome late 2016 season/playoff ratings right into 2017. Roldan’s worst (and only below average) score came in the first game of 2017, and since then he has been fantastic, averaging nearly a 7 for every game on the way to 5 Man of the Match awards, including a 9 for his play against the New York Red Bulls. Roldan has shown the ability to play multiple positions and still excel throughout the season as the most consistently strong performer on the team. Increased success from the defensive side of the pitch has also helped Roldan transition into a more offense-minded player, as evidenced by his 5 goals and 2 assists in the season thus far.
Appearances: 21 MOTM: 5 Min/Max: 5/9
Signing of the year:
Gustav Svensson – 6.636
What would we have done without the Goose? Seemingly a random drop in, this guy is one of only 3 Sounders to play in every single game this season, and he has done so at a variety of positions. Gustav has been a godsend, a player who has the experience and ability to plug into defense with the expectation he will be not just good, but great.
Appearances: 22 MOTM: 3 Min/Max: 5/8
Reports of my demise were greatly exaggerated:
Clint Dempsey – 6.588
Clint Dempsey was a giant question mark coming into this season, and after earning a 7 in his first game hasn’t looked back. The most consistent scoring threat for the Sounders, Dempsey has been a bit unlucky to not have even better stats, thanks to his unfortunate habit of hitting the post, especially in the early season. He is still getting nearly 4 shots a game, and leads the team with 9 goals. Clint can still dominate a game, and has done so on multiple occasions to show us that he still has plenty in the tank.
Appearances: 17 MOTM: 4 Min/Max: 5/9
Chad Marshall – 6.529
You can pretty much pencil in Dad for a 6-8 every single match, and that is what he has done for every game this year. His 5 was for an injury shortened Colorado win that is unduly harsh on his ratings from the smallish sample size – with it being even an average 6 he catapults up to the 2nd highest rated Sounder in 2017. But Chad doesn’t care about ratings, he cares about keeping the ball out of the net, and he is still doing exactly that. Often working with struggling or new partners in defense, Marshall is the model of consistency, earning grades at almost exactly the same level he has for his entire Sounders career.
Appearances: 17 MOTM: 1 Min/Max: 5/8
Don’t you….forget about me:
Nicolas Lodeiro – 6.524
Any other player would be happy to have this rating, but Nico has averaged about a full ratings point lower than last year, including his first below average rating for the NYCFC match. Much of this can be attributed to increased defensive awareness by opponents who are marking him tighter and fouling him incessantly, and also to his failure to connect as effectively with teammates as last season. He is still creating over 2 key passes a game and just needs teammates to finish a bit better. Throughout that Nico has been steadily above average in nearly all games, and it’s a bit of a surprise he hasn’t had a MOTM worthy performance yet after earning 6 in his 19 appearances last year. He has quietly amassed 8 assists this season to go with 3 goals this year.
Appearances: 21 MOTM: 0 Min/Max: 5/8
Still Important pieces
Stefan Frei – 6.381
After receiving an ankle injury in preseason, we weren’t even sure if Frei would start the year on the field, but here we are midway through and he’s been in nearly every game. Stefan turns in solid, if unspectacular matches in almost every appearance for the Sounders. He didn’t have a lot of opportunities to really stand on his head and change the scoreline in a way that immediately impacts the standings until the Colorado game. With a ramshackle defense in front of him at times, Frei has done well to provide calm leadership from the back.
Appearances: 21 MOTM: 1 Min/Max: 5/8
Osvaldo Alonso – 6.222
While his midfield partner was racking up the accolades, Alonso was putting in consistent shifts in the midfield, without signs of slowing. His pass completion rate remains over 90%, and his 2 yellows on the year show a player who is very effective without giving up costly set pieces.
Appearances: 18 MOTM: 2 Min/Max: 5/8
Veterans that need to show something
Handle with care:
Brad Evans – 6.000
Man. Seattle finally gave up a goal with him on the field, but he sure looked strong at multiple positions when available. The problem is he was hurt for the first 9 games and then another 2 later in addition to a red card suspension. Evans has been good when on the field and the defense around him has been great at the same time, however his inability to play enough this first half of the season may have cost him his position. The arrival of of Kelvin Leerdam may be a signal that the club is running out of patience with Evans.
Appearances: 10 MOTM: 0 Min/Max: 5/6
Disappearing left back:
Joevin Jones – 5.762
Joevin came into the season like a house on fire, earning multiple assists while shifting the entire attack to the left side. Such dominant play from a left fullback makes this team incredibly dangerous, and Jones is fantastic at picking his time to go forward and tilt the field. And then…something happened. Teams figured him out, picked up a knock, troubles adjusting to changing pieces around him, who knows? I do know that Jones’ ratings fell off a cliff, lowlighted by a dismal 2 against Chicago in a game he was sent off. A 3 against Columbus was rough, but we all know he is capable of the consistent 8’s he was putting up early season, lets hope he can return to form as he will likely finish the season at the left back position he can so dominate.
Appearances: 21 MOTM: 1 Min/Max: 2/8
Jordan Morris – 5.529
To say that Morris has been a disappointment is an understatement. After starting strong Morris picked up an ankle injury and hasn’t really seemed right since March. His ratings are much lower than we are used to, and he is missing simple plays he has made in the past. Not only is he not scoring chances handed to him by teammates, he is struggling to insert himself into the offensive flow, often fading from games early and often. His recent national team success may be just the thing needed to jump start a season that is getting away from him.
Appearances: 17 MOTM: 0 Min/Max: 4/8
Less dancing, more defense:
Roman Torres – 5.154
Not only has Roman only played in around half of the matches so far this season, he has struggled mightily in almost all of them. Its hard to know exactly what is up with Torres, but its clear he is both making bad decisions and his body isn’t responding to his commands correctly. We know there is a potentially dominant center back under there somewhere, but so far this year Torres has been a major disappointment.
Appearances: 13 MOTM: 0 Min/Max: 4/6
Quality, game-changing depth
Will Bruin – 6.000
Bruin has one job, and that is to put the ball in the back of the net. As a sub and now fairly consistent starter, he has done that a respectable 8 times. He brings an intensity to every appearance for Seattle, but often struggles when asked to be any sort of creator. His runs are a bit redundant with teammates still, but as we saw against Colorado, when he is in tune with his teammates he’s a fantastic weapon who knows how to score.
Appearances: 18 MOTM: 2 Min/Max: 4/8
Come sail away:
Harry Shipp – 5.938
Shipp has been rated almost exactly average over his 16 matches and this is fitting for a player that is much more of a glue guy than a creator. He hasn’t shown a lot of ability to break open a game via dribble or pass, but has shown great off ball runs and his combination with others is often lacking just the final pass or shot. With other players improving around him, Shipp will need to find a little more dynamic play as part of his resume.
Appearances: 16 MOTM: 1 Min/Max: 5/8
Alvaro Fernandez – 5.9
A model of consistency, Fernandez was always good to give you a near average rating, and not much more or less. Near the end of his Sounders time he started to be more effective, finally finding some purchase with his brand of defense first, intelligent off ball style.
Appearances: 10 MOTM: 1 Min/Max: 5/7
The future is now
Nouhou – 6.111
Get on the hype train. Nouhou was given a chance against Columbus and hasn’t looked back, starting or coming off the bench in every match he’s been available for since. So far, he has earned a respectable 6 score for each appearance other than against San Jose, and there has been notable improvement along the way. He is pushing for time, and that competition along with his young age is quite exciting for the future.
Appearances: 9 MOTM: 0 Min/Max: 6/7
Homegrown needs water:
Aaron Kovar – 5.800
Aaron got hurt in preseason when he looked poised to push for quality minutes. Now, with half the season past, he is finally back to fitness and showing well in his three appearances. A jolt of confidence from an Open Cup game has translated into a more poised player in MLS who not only looks like he belongs on the field, is eager to prove it with decisive, direct play.
Appearances: 5 MOTM: 0 Min/Max: 5/7
Gold Cup Confidence boost?:
Oniel Fisher – 5.250
Fisher has had a lot of chances to step up and wrest playing time at his natural right back position away from teammates and has failed to do so. Every game he seems to start well, and often even gets to the second half with a strong showing before suddenly he loses it, and struggles mightily after his tipping point. Maybe only coming in a sub or his recent wide mf work with his national team will improve his play.
Appearances: 8 MOTM: 0 Min/Max: 3/7
Henry Wingo – 5.000
After being a surprise substitute piece for Coach Schmetzer early in the season, Wingo’s injury proved to be an enormous setback for what was shaping up to be a promising rookie season. Now healthy, Wingo has been on the bench for the first time quite a bit lately, as well as appearances for S2 to keep his development on track. There is a great athlete to build upon, he just needs a lot more seasoning.
Appearances: 8 MOTM: 0 Min/Max: 4/6
Think of the children:
Tony Alfaro – 4.800
While not really a child in soccer terms, its still good to remember Tony is only in his second season with Seattle and just turned 24 years old. While clearly not ready to supplant Marshall on the backline, Alfaro has shown an ability to learn quickly despite his obvious flaws. The physical pieces are there, and luckily he has an amazing mentor to learn from.
Appearances: 10 MOTM: 0 Min/Max: 3/6
Out of position:
Jordy Delem – 4.769
Seeing Delem play at defensive mid and center back has shown that there is more to this player than what we saw in his disastrous appearances at right back early in the year. Now that the Sounders have Leerdam, we are hopefully done with the Delem right back experiment, and we can actually see if his skills translate to MLS level at a position in which he is comfortable.
Appearances: 13 MOTM: 0 Min/Max: 3/7
Speed only kills if you get to use it:
Seyi Adekoya – 5.000
Seyi looked okay in both of his appearances this season and nearly scored on at least one occasion. Nothing about his play showed he couldn’t be MLS level talent, but he definitely needs more time to develop.
Appearances: 2 MOTM: 0 Min/Max: 4/6