The Seattle Sounders rebounded nicely from two abysmal outings a few weeks ago and are back to winning soccer. Seattle’s second straight offensive outburst saw the visiting Houston Dynamo lose by a score of 4-1 to the good guys — no R2, no Goose; no problem.
Stefan Frei – 6 | Community – 7.3
Frei recovered nicely after the awful mistake against Philly and has looked calm and composed since. He only had three saves against Houston and spent much of the time directing traffic before the defense in front of him faltered at the very end.
One thing I liked: In the 84th minute it looked like Frei had preserved a shutout, diving down to his left and making a great save.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 28th minute Stef had a low, short, and most importantly central clearance that was stolen and shoved right back down his throat. The game was in no way under control at that point, and he needs to be more careful.
Going forward: Winning two games by a score of 8-1 is something that any keeper will be happy with, but avoiding late goals is something I’m sure Frei and goalkeeper coach Tom Dutra and the group have been working on this week in training.
Nouhou – 8 | Community – 7.3
CHOO CHOO. Three tackles, six interceptions, four clearances, two aerials, and a blocked shot on defense, while completely shutting down Dynamo DP Tomas Martinez. Nouhou also came through with 80 touches culminating in 84 percent passing accuracy moving the ball forward and strong, consistent presence supporting the attack through the left width. This was one of Nouhou’s most complete outings as a Sounder and he looked much improved in all facets of his game.
One thing I liked: He didn’t have an assist in this one, but it was his rampaging run forward and well-timed cross that pulled Houston out of shape in the 18th minute and helped create the huge first goal. The lack of hesitation going forward was tremendous and bodes well for his relationships in the locker room.
One thing I didn’t like: On multiple occasions Nouhou’s direct runs opened up great space for teammates (especially Víctor Rodríguez), but he needs to learn what to do after the run is over. A few times he got lost, pinched by the end line with nowhere to go.
Going forward: The increased confidence from his coaches and teammates is readily apparent in young Nouhou’s play. He was fantastic in this game, a complete wall defensively, and he added some nuanced offensive production. If he can continue to grow from this outing, Seattle’s fullback depth is a huge strength which allows the coaching staff flexibility as Brad Smith rehabs his injury. We know Nouhou is capable of this level of play; it’s the consistency that needs to follow.
Chad Marshall – 7 | Community – 7.4
While he had more work to do than against Colorado, Marshall once again showcased his CMOY resumé by calmly pitching a near shutout with sparkling defensive play. His three interceptions and four clearances showed perfect anticipation, and he completed 93 percent of his passes as he moved the ball forward in possession. He could have scored in first half stoppage time, putting a wide-open header to the outside of goal while nearly getting kicked in the face by a teammate.
One thing I liked: Marshall reads the opponents so well, and in the 26th and 31st minutes had two tremendous plays to slide over to his right and prevent Mauro Manotas from getting solid looks at goal, which earned Seattle enough time to push the lead to 2-0 before half.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 85th minute Manotas finally did beat Chad on a run, and his near-post flick was saved by the woodwork.
Going forward: The leverage that Marshall gives to all his teammates is incredible. Everyone around him is allowed more range because of his ability to do the exact right thing defensively almost every time, and he shows no sign of slowing down.
Kim Kee-hee – 7 | Community – 7.7
Again, Kim took full advantage of the positional flexibility afforded him by his teammates to dominate defensively with his speed and anticipation. His four tackles led the team, and he added a key pass, constantly pushing forward over the midfield line to terrorize Houston midfielders with a dazzling high press, picking apart attacks before they could be imagined.
One thing I liked: In the 52nd minute a great example of Kim’s increased aggressiveness was on display as he charged into the offensive third, anticipated and stole a pass, and found a teammate in very advanced position to create instant offense.
One thing I didn’t like: Kim slipped once when matched up with Manotas in the 30th minute, and the Sounders center back was lucky his opponent’s shot went wide.
Going forward: Kim is out here pulling Cruyff turns through multiple defenders and kickstarting offensive pushes for Seattle. He’s also part of a defense that covers enough ground to mitigate Svensson’s absence in the middle. Kim is just awesome.
Kelvin Leerdam – 6 | Community – 7.1 (off 72’ for Bwana)
After a spectacular outing against Colorado, Leerdam was less impressive against Houston but still adequate, doing his job defensively and opening up high and wide to create quality spacing for Seattle on offense. Even with a quieter stat line, Kelvin was credited with an assist and consistently allowed the attackers in front of him to throw numbers forward with impunity.
One thing I liked: His assist came in the 64th minute, and it was a tidy piece of work with Leerdam controlling a wide ball in a very advanced position and putting a crisp low pass into a dangerous area for Seattle’s finishers to utilize.
One thing I didn’t like: Leerdam tried to redirect a free kick right before half with a very high boot. Not only did he miss the ball, but he nearly kicked Marshall in the face, which also threw off Chad’s wide-open header.
Going forward: Leerdam’s position map was very high in this match, and that tends to bode well for Seattle. I am happy to see him get little extra rest as well and look forward to him utilizing this increased offensive desire to further assist the Seattle attack.
Jordy Delem – 7 | Community – 6.5
Delem stepped in at defensive midfield and was excellent, consistently making the right plays and putting in a dependable and cohesive shift. He was by far the more active defensively of the two d-mids, with multiple tackles and a team high five interceptions while finding teammates at an 85% completion rate.
One thing I liked: In the 14th, 41st, 44th and other times, Delem slid into the Houston passing lanes nicely, anticipating Houston’s moves and creating instant counters for Seattle. This was huge in disrupting the opponents and earning the Sounders possession over and over.
One thing I didn’t like: Delem once again was forced to play right back and while it wasn’t completely his fault, it’s telling that Houston repeatedly attacked through his side after the switch, eventually scoring.
Going forward: In minute 67 Jordy Delem confidently controlled the ball and dribbled between three Dynamo players. This composure was reminiscent of his midfield partner, and showed his tremendous touch and decision making in tight quarters. If he can keep up this kind of play, there’s a spot for him on an MLS team.
Osvaldo Alonso – 7 | Community – 7.0 (off 78’ for Wingo)
Once again Alonso played a calm, controlled match and it was quietly excellent. With others stepping up, Ozzie may have realized he can be a water carrier for the dynamic teammates around him, and in so doing can minimize some mistakes. Alonso still kept his 90% passing rate but did so on only 55 touches, good for fifth highest on the team. While taking a more reserved role, Alonso quietly had two key passes and worked well in the middle with Delem, although his defensive actions were few and far between.
One thing I liked: Alonso’s nifty touch in his own box started the counter with which Seattle scored goal number two, and moments later he showed great control in traffic to keep possession. These are examples of a player who manages the game while still finding moments to make an impact.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 41st minute Ozzie got in trouble dribbling into a bad spot. I believe he got fouled, but with Houston nearly scoring the captain has to make a better decision to keep that two-goal lead heading into the break.
Going forward: When Alonso plays within himself, he is a solid defensive midfielder who does great things. Ozzie was allowed to focus on his strengths, and that worked well for Seattle.
Víctor Rodríguez – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 8.5
Rodríguez has been showing well for a while now, but this match was a bit of a coming out for him. It wasn’t his team-leading five shots, 85 percent passing and two goals, but rather his movement and dynamic combination with teammates that completely dominated the match, transforming the offense into a juggernaut while preserving defensive integrity. Rodríguez made everyone around him better all night and his movement mesmerized the Houston defense, creating gaps that he and the rest of the team repeatedly took advantage of.
One thing I liked: This is the goal-direct player Seattle has sorely lacked at times, and both of his goals were taken quickly, on frame, and without remorse. Not only is he willing to pull the trigger at any time, his movement through the box rends giant gashes in opponents’ shape and creates chances for his teammates (like on both goals he didn’t score).
One thing I didn’t like: Víctor was caught on the dribble multiple times at the top of the Dynamo penalty area, and I would love to see him work a quick give-and-go while moving forward instead of trying to dribble through traffic.
Going forward: At times, the dynamic movement and connection between Víctor and Nico reminded me of another attacking duo this team had a few years back. They just work so impressively together, anticipating the actions of the other and making each impossible to mark. This translated into nearly comical short corner dominance and accentuated how in tune these stars are. This is the promise their play has shown, and it’s really exciting.
Nicolás Lodeiro – 8 | Community – 8.6 (MOTM)
Lodeiro destroyed the stat book to the tune of 105 touches, 89 percent completion rate, two shots, four key passes and an assist on offense while adding a solid three tackles and interception defensively. He works so hard in the midfield, constantly covering ground that puts opponents under pressure trying to keep up. Inevitably, they can’t, and when that happens the midfield is a disorganized mess that Seattle has taken advantage of.
One thing I liked: With Houston pressing and creating some solid offensive momentum, Nico latched onto a pass in minute 34 and charged forward with a dribble counterattack. His speed, vision, and timing were magical, and when Lodeiro passed the ball to a streaking Roldan the pass cut out five defenders from the play.
One thing I didn’t like: He got hurt celebrating with Roldan after his goal. Nico is not allowed to get hurt, and certainly not in such a ridiculous fashion.
Going forward: Nico is playing at such a high level it’s hard to know how this team would be without him. Unfortunately, we might find out next week.
Cristian Roldan – 8 | Community – 8.2 (off 83’ for his brother)
Roldan is becoming a very effective member of the attacking wide midfield by leveraging the very skills that make him such an incredible defensive mid — his range, his positioning, and his decision making. All of these led to one of Roldan’s best offensive outings in his career, with four shots, a goal, and an assist to go with a 90 percent completion rate. Oddly enough, Cristian had very few defensive actions, instead leaning on his teammates to defend while he pushed high and wide.
One thing I liked: I mentioned his decision making, and the first two goals showed exquisite choices. The first saw Roldan attack the end line before finding a cut back to Bruin, and the second goal was a smartly chosen take far post. Any hesitation, especially on the second tally, would have doomed the play, but Cristian is making good decisions naturally, and his game is improving.
One thing I didn’t like: In first half stoppage time Roldan and Rodríguez had a 2-v-1 and Cristian was unable to find the right pass to his wide-open teammate. Granted, this was a very difficult pass and a small window to hit it, but if he’s playing that position I’d like to see him figure a way to get the assist there.
Going forward: Cristian is finding different ways to impress from wide positions, sometimes defensively, sometimes finding teammates, and every now and then with his own offensive push. This shows what a smart and talented player he is, and we need him to continue to step up with some other stars out.
Will Bruin – 7 | Community – 7.5
Bruin didn’t hold the ball up, play with his back to the goal, or open up big spaces for teammates all match. He rarely touched the ball (24 total) and his 60 percent passing indicates a player who struggled to connect. He played 90 minutes at striker and managed but a single shot on goal. And he was terrific.
One thing I liked: Off balance, slipping, turning and blind hitting a shot, Bruin somehow put a perfect upper-v shot into the net to give Seattle a huge early lead. Not much about his game was consistently pretty, but this finish, and his later dummy run, show that given a chance to impact the game, Will was ready.
One thing I didn’t like: Our striker had a single shot and while he did great with it, and showed the ability to affect the game with movement, there should be much more goal-dangerous play from the starting forward.
Going forward: Bruin worked hard in this game and showed a back to the goal ability that he hasn’t displayed much this season. Maybe more importantly, he understood that sometimes the best play is just to get out of the way and let the little guys make magic.
Handwalla Bwana – 6 | Community – 6.5 (on 72’ for Leerdam)
Bwana came in for his second appearance in as many games and looked good. He was a tidy 6/6 passing and looked comfortable with the Seattle offense going forward, while still showing some penchant for defensive awareness.
One thing I liked: Bwana fit in perfectly with the quick touches and incisive movement of Nico and Victor and his first touch in the 73rd was a nifty pass to V-Rod for Seattle’s fourth goal.
One thing I didn’t like: He didn’t have six assists on his six touches.
Going forward: Bwana looks the part, and he should get playing time going forward.
Henry Wingo – 4 | Community – 4.3 (on 78’ for Alonso)
While Bwana was showing off his offensive chops, Wingo struggled with the MLS-level pace. His zero defensive actions and 67% passing clip showed that he wanted to get into the attack, but his touch and decision making when he got there failed him on numerous occasions.
One thing I liked: In the 84th minute his defense was good and he charged upfield on the dribble, attacking the heart of Houston’s defense with pace — the end result was a poor pass, but the semblance of a smart attack was there.
One thing I didn’t like: Decision making was poor throughout, and Wingo looked so desperate to get into the attack and join Bwana on the stat sheet he neglected a weak right defensive area, which Houston repeatedly victimized until they robbed the defense of a shutout.
Going forward: Wingo has a great frame and does things that show big time potential, but he needs work to start realizing some of that promise.
Alex Roldan – 5 | Community – 4.9 (on 83’ for his brother)
I’m not sure how putting Alex Roldan in for seven minutes “prepares him to play against Orlando” but that was the reason given for this late cameo from Roldan the Younger. He didn’t do much, and all three young players combined to struggle and put extra pressure on a defense that had been resolute up to that point.
One thing I liked: Alex completed all his passes and was clean out of the back when the ball was on his foot.
One thing I didn’t like: His defense was very poor, and he often looked lost. In the 85th in a very similar situation to the RSL goal he gave up, Roldan just let his man casually dribble in off the wing and have a shot.
Going forward: Having a little fun and subbing off a guy for his younger brother is okay, but this outing didn’t answer the question of whether A-Rold could play d-mid next match.
Drew Fischer – 8 | Community – 5.9
Fischer was good, playing advantage as needed and calling fouls and cards with an even hand.
One thing I liked: His cards were quickly given and made sense. While I thought the PK deserved a VAR look, I appreciated the speed at which he made decisions and trusted his staff to help him out.
One thing I didn’t like: The 68th minute foul on Alonso deserved a hard look at replay, and instead it got nothing. Since it’s hard to blame that one on the center ref, I’ll add that the confusion at the end of the first half with the goal kick/offside/handball/who knows was unnecessary and could have been handled better.
Going forward: Fischer has quietly done well in Sounders games this year and is becoming one of the better rated referees in the league.
Houston Dynamo MOTM
Goalscoring left back ageless wonder DaMarcus Beasley is your Houston Dynamo MOTM!
Watching the Sounders while in tremendous pain may be good for superstition and four goals per match, but let’s start a new tradition where Realio feels great and Seattle wins anyway.