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Seattle Sounders vs. LA Galaxy: Player ratings

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Torres had a great game against LA, making his sending off even more unfair.

Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

Seattle rarely has it easy against LA, and even though the Sounders look like the better team in the current iteration of the rivalry, we’ve struggled to score against the Sigi Schmid-led Galaxy. Last weekend Seattle peppered the opponents with shots, 20 to their 9, yet only managed one late goal to salvage a home tie. While a 12-game unbeaten streak is impressive, we’ve unfortunately left points on the field in our last few games.


Goalkeeper

Stefan Frei – 6 | Community – 6.6

Frei had a leisurely day and was only forced into one save. It came off a Romain Alessandrini shot that was deflected towards goal, which required a quick leap and smart push over the bar; Frei was up to this 17th minute parry. Steph came out to catch in traffic in the 13th, 18th, and 20th, but there was at least one point where I thought he incorrectly chose to stay on his line instead of coming out and being more aggressive on crosses.

Most of Frei’s action was coordinating a defense that at times was stretched too much, plus distributing passes to open people. A highlight was his direct vertical pass to Alonso in the 43rd that bypassed three Galaxy players and allowed the midfielder to attack right up the gut with space. There was nothing Frei could do on the goal against, although he made a strong effort to get a hand on it.

Defense

Oniel Fisher – 6 | Community – 5.9 (off 74’)

Fisher played very well at left back. From a pure stat standpoint, he was as or more effective than the guys he backs up, providing 3 shots, a key pass, 89% completion rate, with a massive 7 tackles and 3 clearances defensively. The Galaxy repeatedly tried to victimize Fisher, forcing Alessandrini his way with little success. Oniel left early and still had 78 total touches, only three less than Roldan who led Seattle while playing the full game. Fisher matched up well with Alessandrini’s physicality and quickness, limiting the LA star to hopeful crosses and doing well to continually frustrate him.

Seattle should have broken this game open in the 5th minute via a perfect continuation run from Fisher and diagonal cross to the far post, executed perfectly until the finish. Five minutes later Oniel mixed it up with an underlapping run that nearly ripped another hole in the Galaxy defense. I don’t like diving, but Fisher was twice not given the benefit of the doubt because he DIDN’T embellish fouls. The first was vs. Bradley Diallo in the 22nd that was a tremendous individual effort by Oniel to round the LA player before being tackled from behind; it was VERY close to a pk but Fisher didn’t sell it and instead lobbied for a corner. The second was eight minutes later when Fisher beat Jermaine Jones and was fouled hard, but jumped over most of the foul and quickly got up. This was a reckless foul with studs up and was actually borderline red, but Oniel made it easy to play on by jumping up and running down field; it didn’t even warrant a yellow from the ref.

Fisher was only beat a few times by Alessandrini but recovered well in the 9th and committed a smart tactical foul in the 39th. I saw nothing from the Galaxy goal to indicate Fisher played it wrong, everything about Alessandrini’s body movement looked cutback and he just stabbed an off-foot cross into the six which should have been covered by the three Sounders defenders in the vicinity.

Fisher plays well for 50-60 minutes, then fatigue and loss of concentration often result in a huge blowup in his performance. We started to see this in the 56th with a horrible throw-in directly at his own goal and to a Galaxy player, allowing a break. A few contentious confrontations with LA players after hard (but clean) tackles saw a general rise in tension in the game and Fisher was right in the middle of that. Alessandrini complained (duh) about a clean tackle in the 70th and that resulted in some words and shoving. In the 73rd it’s hard to tell intent, but his tackle went over the ball and caught Alessandrini on the leg in a challenge that showed some recklessness and likely contributed to his being subbed out.

From a defensive standpoint Fisher was great, with Alessandrini only completing one pass (his assist) in the final third while marked by Oniel. Offensively there is plenty to work on, but overall it was a tremendous outing.

Chad Marshall – 6 | Community – 6.4

Marshall was his usual self in the back, filling up my book with calm, positional defense and consistently supporting an active attacking left side. His 4 clearances and 2 interceptions were on point, but the 81% passing rate was somewhat low for Chad, showing how differently that left side played. With both Fisher and Rodriguez pushing high and Gyasi Zardes pushing everything wide, there were fewer short passes for Marshall out of the back.

In the first minute Chad rose over Zardes to win a header and any time these two were matched up closely it was Marshall who dominated the physical battle. Zardes tried his hardest to post up and control the front, but it was plays like Chad’s 5th minute calm chest control to Alonso and 18th minute precise header to Nico that showed off Marshall’s defensive skills. Chad doesn’t ever seem to get flustered, and in the 45th with a bit of a scramble it was he who calmly defended and cleared an LA chance. In the second half Marshall switched from dominating Zardes (47’, 63’) to opening up the field with a great 51st minute switch to Leerdam on the wing. Late it was again Zardes who was trying to break in the 82nd only to see Marshall across to kill this counter attack and casually recycle possession to a teammate.

There was one huge negative sequence in this game and a large part of it was unfortunately Chad’s; he dropped off Zardes in the 25th minute and the Galaxy made Seattle pay. A big part of the play was the defensive disarray in front of him, but Chad has to stay with his man and trust the guys on the left to do their job. Instead, he dropped his mark in the box and that guy scored.

Roman Torres – 7 (MOTM) | Community – 7.6 (MOTM)

Roman has quietly been putting together some great performances lately, and this was another one. He had a shot, a key pass and the game-tying assist, and also contributed 6 clearances and consistently was the best defender on the back line.

When LA pressed through the midfield, it was often Roman who anticipated the play and stepped up to end their attack immediately. Torres also looks to jumpstart the offense when he gets in possession, and has improved drastically in the last month with his decision making from the back. In the 20th he did exactly this, cutting out a passing lane and stealing a ball before quickly finding Nico-Dempsey-JMo for a nearly onside goal. A similar play happened in the 38th, with Roman following up some confident defending with a dribble juke and flicked pass wide to Lodeiro to break out. Right before half Torres nearly found Morris on a 60 yard over the top pass as well.

After the intermission, it was again Torres supporting Leerdam in the 47th or reading a play perfectly and coming across to clear in the box in the 49th. In the 52nd minute Roman was SO WIDE OPEN on the far post for a free kick it’s a damn shame that Rodriguez didn’t see him. Torres showed what happens when you get him the ball on the width in the 85th, expertly one timing a switching pass back across the 18 to Neagle for a beautiful assist.

Torres was forced out of position by the run of Jonathan Dos Santos during the LA goal scoring sequence, but it was a good decision to attack the ball. Other than losing Zardes in the 53rd minute on a give and go in the box, Roman was rock solid defensively all match. The red card was debated everywhere; I didn’t see a red, and I didn’t see DOGSO. So I’m glad that Sounders appealed the red card and even happier that (today) the appeal was successful and the red card is gone.

Kelvin Leerdam – 6 | Community – 6.4

Leerdam had a very quiet game against LA. Defensively he was a monster, with 4 tackles, 3 interceptions and 6 clearances. He struggled some to get passes to teammates with 1/5 crosses and 0/3 long balls dropping his completion rate of 73%. Leerdam still managed 2 key passes and contained Emmanuel Boateng for a majority of the match.

I didn’t have a lot of notes for Leerdam, although his wide run and looping cross in the 1st minute almost found Dempsey far post. In the 8th minute he worked a strong give and go with Morris but then chose a weak left footed shot that was blocked instead of finding a wide-open Rodriguez across the box. Leerdam was beat by Daniel Steres on a near-post corner kick header in the 12th but had little action until needing Torres to bail him out late in the first half when the speedy Boateng rounded the Seattle right back.

In the second half Leerdam found some success overlapping and attacking the middle instead of sending in crosses, and a 51st minute play found Vrod in the box. In the 81st Kelvin had a nice overlap and then showed off his dangerous long throw.

This was an OK game from Leerdam, who struggled with Boateng’s speed on occasion. Nico playing everywhere puts a lot of stress on the right back and Kelvin does well to balance out that side as much as he can without hanging Torres out to dry, but this game was very left-side-attack dependent. Late in the game he was one of the only defenders back, and he consistently stopped LA from breaking out.

Defensive midfield

Osvaldo Alonso – 5 | Community – 6.3

I see some decline in Alonso’s play lately, and he still struggles to connect with Roldan in the middle with any consistency. Defensively the movement is too slow, and on several occasions LA was able to attack right down the center with Alonso stuck wide. His passing was the usual near 90% completion, he added a key pass as well, but what struck me was that he attempted a massive 14 long balls. This shows a definite attempt to stretch the field and switch sides that is indicative of a slow-moving offense.

After being megged in the 1st minute Alonso showed very little recovery pace, and that should be a huge warning flag to Seattle fans. He looked slow again in the 3rd minute and a number of other times I noted how ineffective Ozzie is without his usual first step. Alonso made a nice 13th minute line-splitting pass to an advanced Roldan before a minute later dribbling through those lines himself, breaking apart the middle shape. This strong central play was forgotten in the 25th though, with Alonso caught way too wide while Roldan was pressing high, allowing Dos Santos to run right through the middle and set up a goal. Ozzie got off a great rocket volley shot from a set piece in the 35th that was unfortunately blocked. His first half was mostly forgettable.

In the second half Seattle cleaned up the middle spacing and controlled more of the play, especially keeping Roldan and Alonso more connected to possess in the middle but without a lot of attacking success. Ozzie had a nice 72nd minute pressure in the middle to force an LA mistake but was lucky to not get a red card for a high elbow in the 75th. In fairness, it looked to me like Alonso was bracing for a shoulder challenge, and Boateng bailed out, but many refs wouldn’t have only given a yellow there. In the 78th he had a great central run and almost found Dempsey before earning an assist in the 85th via a tremendous switching long ball to Torres. Alonso completely lost Jones on the 89th minute breakaway run.

Cristian Roldan – 6 | Community – 6.8

Roldan was the midfield savior in the first half, continually stopping attacks and forcing them wide. Alonso got on the same page in the second half, but instead of releasing Roldan he just sort of faded out of the game, until being moved to left back and having some nice runs late. A majority of his team leading touches, 2 shots and 2 key passes were in the first half.

Early on Roldan was looking for the wide runs of Morris, and found him in the 4th minute stretching the defense. After forcing a shot that was easily blocked, Cristian had a great 7th minute run through the middle and earned a corner kick. Taken short, he found Marshall on the set piece. A miss-control in the 14th minute took away a huge chance for a shot, and Cristian was unable to pull the trigger from a nice spot. Twelve minutes later Roldan found room and control and pulled the trigger on a very nicely taken deep shot that forced a save out of Jon Kempin.

The second half was much quieter, as Alonso pulled more of the weight and Roldan wasn’t forced to race around putting out midfield fires as often. Cristian’s 57th minute recovery run and shoulder tackle completely demolished Giovani Dos Santos and was a joy to watch. In the 60th Roldan had a fantastic turn in traffic that left 2 Galaxy players in the dust while he attacked forward. Unable to repeat his amazing late game heroics ☹.

Attacking Midfield

Victor Rodriguez – 6 | Community – 6.4 (off 83’)

Victor is settling in nicely on the left wing and early on was a consistent force to be reckoned with. He put his only shot on target, added 3 key passes, and showed the ability to combine with Morris and Fisher on the left side. I was very impressed by his defensive work as well, with Vrod turning in a massive 6 tackles in support of Fisher on the left side. (They combined for 13 tackles!)

Drifting central early helped open overlapping space and it was great to see the vision he had to find Leerdam on the opposite side. In the 5th Rodriguez put in an absolutely perfect behind the defender pass to Fisher that deserved a better finish. After being completely ignored wide open in the 8th minute Vrod didn’t hang his head, instead helping on defense a minute later and then working a 12th minute give and go with Dempsey. In the 15th he roamed across the middle to pick the pocket of Alessandrini. More defense in the 33rd impressed, tracking back to win a ball.

Victor looked tired in the second half and wasn’t able to get involved in much offensively, other than a perfect 79th minute cross squandered by Bruin. Rodriguez was able to get out of trouble a few times but needs to (similarly to Nico) not try to dribble out of problems and make things worse. He was pushed off the ball very easily at times and Seattle needs to remember he is on the field and use him more often.

Clint Dempsey – 5 | Community – 5.2

As usual Clint got off 4 shots, and had a key pass, but this match will be remembered for his mistakes. Clint just looked off (tired?) and his usually spectacular touch let him down at the worst times. Even though he was clearly struggling, Dempsey did get involved in many of the best scoring chances for the team, but the final touch really failed him against the Galaxy.

When he miss-touched a drop pass for a near turnover in the 1st minute you could ignore it. When Fisher dropped a perfect pass to a wide-open Clint in the 5th minute and he bungled it to the defense you knew something was off. He followed this with a 14th minute shot into the Hawk’s Nest and a 44th minute pass out of bounds to no one to finish off the half. The second period was better, but he still misplayed a dangerous 1-2 with Nico in the 64th and clearly didn’t have the energy to chase down a 78th minute Alonso pass.

On the positive side Dempsey played well through Rodriguez in the 12th minute, put Morris in for a goal (offside) in the 20th, and earned a free kick in the 34th that he took himself and nearly scored. In the second half Dempsey missed on a 48th minute header after working hard to get there and may have scored in the 79th on another header if Bruin hadn’t gotten to it first. In the 81st Clint found Leerdam wide and he set up Bruin for an open shot in the 87th.

This was by no means a good outing for a player of Clint’s ability, but a majority of his errors looked to be touch related, maybe from fatigue. I am concerned that he was constantly in the same areas as Bruin, which they will need to fix with Morris out for a while.

Nicolas Lodeiro – 6 | Community – 6.2

Where did Nico go? He “only” had the fifth most touches on the team and was largely absent from Seattle’s attack for long stretches. He did still manage 4 key passes, although none were hugely dangerous plays, and missing was the defense-splitting vision we are used to. His passing was great, but Nico was unable to dominate games like we know he is capable of.

One thing absent early from Nico was any defensive intensity, repeatedly leaving Leerdam on an island on the right side. In the 20th minute Lodeiro showed off a nifty back heel pass to Clint that set up the Morris offside goal, and 15 minutes later he showed up on the left side, linked central with Vrod, and then put Fisher into the box. A 24th minute chance was a mess as Nico misplayed a pass across the 18. Lodeiro was again quiet after halftime, nearly putting Rodriguez through from a deep position in the 59th and having a nice cross to Bruin in the 63rd. Lodeiro had a huge chance to shoot from a wide-open spot in the middle in the 50th minute and similar to Dempsey had control issues, eventually shooting well over. This was an OK effort, but a letdown after some very effective outings recently.

Forward

Jordan Morris – 7 | Community – 5.7 (off 61’)

With people struggling around him I thought Morris was very strong, continually being the most dangerous Sounder on offense with great tactical movement and pressure. A lot of what he did on offense doesn’t show up (1 key pass, 83% completion) in stats but he filled my book with great plays.

In the 3rd minute Morris was darting wide to pull defenders and put in a blind cross into the box. A minute later his diagonal run brought center back Steres all the way to the sideline, opening a huge gash in the LA defense. In the 5th his run took FOUR defenders through the box, leaving wide open Dempsey and Lodeiro on the back post. If the defense doesn’t make a great play in the 13th minute Morris was easily in 1v1 with Kempin. In the 20th he was deemed offsides on a similar play, but Jordan did show off a nice finishing touch many doubted he had.

In the 33rd, 41st, and 46th we saw Morris perform perfect hold up play to bring the Sounders up the field, the first finding Dempsey with a chest that earned a yellow on Jermaine Jones as these two attacked the defense in tandem. Right after half I loved seeing Jordan stretch the field before almost getting on the end of a cross by staying involved in the play and coming back to support numbers in the box. Morris was hurt stretching the field and his presence will be missed.

Substitutes

Will Bruin – 5 | Community – 5.6 (on 61’)

Bruin subbed in for the injured Morris and immediately missed a throw in. He did get off a team high 4 shots in just over a half hour which was impressive, but only one was on target. In the 73rd he made a really ugly run into the defense that took any passing option away from Dempsey and created a turnover. Will missed a wide-open header in the 79th and was offsides in the 83rd killing two great attacks. Dempsey set him up for a deflected shot in the 87th that looked goal bound. He missed another header in the 97th to close out the game. Getting into good spots is great, but Bruin wasn’t particularly close on any of his chances and more importantly seemed to be consistently running into Dempsey as they both tried to occupy the same space.

Gustav Svensson – 6 | Community – 6.0 (on 74’)

The Goose arrived to ostensibly release both Roldan and Alonso into the attack, and he was successful for the most part as both were consistently moving forward after his arrival. He was beat by Alessandrini in the 79th but completely destroyed Giovani Dos Santos seconds later inducing a humorous fit from the Mexican star. In the 88th Svensson was unable to put a nice near post corner on frame. He stuffed Alessandrini 3x to close out the game.

Lamar Neagle – 7 | Community – 7.1 (on 83’)

253! Lamar has always had the ability the put hard shots on frame and when given one chance to do that, he did so with aplomb. His 85th minute strike was a fantastic, confident hit and hopefully showed his teammates that it’s OK to just have a shot sometimes. There were some poor passes and a weak cross toward the end of the game. He had a nice game-ending cross to Bruin in the 97th. Exactly the kind of impact you want off the bench late.

Referee

Drew Fischer – 4 | Community – 2.4

Fischer turned in another in a line of poor refereeing performances. I am tired of rehashing these ad nauseum. He made some good calls, like a 3rd minute advantage when Oniel Fisher was fouled, but he allowed play through Vrod until there was no advantage, then returned it to the original foul. The yellow for GDS for whining was appropriate. The general handling of the game was done adequately. I think the consistency of letting things go was actually done pretty well, if not one that I agree with. Fisher, Alonso, Jones, and Diallo all got yellows and all could have seen red with a different referee, and I appreciated the uniformity of not throwing players out haphazardly (till the end!)

Unfortunately, there were things to take issue with. Alessandrini got his “final” warning in the 30th for a tackle on Vrod, but then was allowed Fisher in the 42nd, Vrod in the 47th, Nico in the 51st and FINALLY got carded in the 55th, all the while ranting and raving like a child. This amount of dissent is completely ridiculous and should never be allowed. Neither should GDS have gotten three warnings to back off Frei on punts, often waving his hands in the Sounder keeper’s face. With the LA orange card fouls coming early and the Seattle ones late, it would have been nice to see a referee dare to punish these plays early, but it’s rarely done. Allowing Alessandrini especially to constantly hack people was really disappointing.

While I did appreciate long stretches of the reffing, there is a VAR for a reason and again it seemed either the center or the VAR referee missed some stuff. Fisher in the box, Jones’ foul on Fisher, Diallo’s hands to the face all could have been reviewed, but didn’t seem to get a second glance.

Finally, there is the last disaster of a play involving Torres. First off, there was a blatant uncalled foul on Bradford Jameson that not only should have ended the LA attack before it started but also presented Seattle with a dangerous free kick opportunity in an excellent spot with a chance to win the game. Instead of calling this, Fischer allowed play to continue and was quick to send off Roman after his “tackle” on Jones. As the successful appeal showed, it wasn’t a red, or DOGSO, and either Fischer failed to utilize his options in VAR or the VAR failed. Either way it was a terrible sequence that ultimately was botched, but fortunately today was overturned.

LA Galaxy MOTM

Romain Alessandrini again puts in the best performance out of the LA Galaxy players, earning MOTM with 46.7 percent of the vote.


Yet another tie that feels like a loss. This team should be happy with defensive intensity and strong play, but at some point we need more than one-goal draws. A good team to improve against is FC Dallas who have struggled lately, except I can’t remember us ever going to Texas and getting good results. I would love to see the Sounders break out, but at the very least let’s keep that unbeaten streak going.