This game was very similar to the Philadelphia match, only Seattle scored on their initial chances and held on for a shaky 2-1 win, instead of not scoring and allowing a late goal. It’s a good thing the Sounders did indeed score early, since they looked disorganized and struggled for the majority of the second half, especially as the team tired. With multiple key players not available, the substitutions were confusing but ultimately “successful” — if you define that as “holding on for dear life in a game you had in hand and should have put out of reach.” Luckily Seattle did hold on and earned an ugly three points as they head to Houston this weekend.
Stefan Frei – 7 | Community – 7.0
Frei wasn’t lights out against Orlando, but he didn’t need to be. What he needed to do, and did well, was to support the struggling team that was bunkered in and frustrated long enough to keep the win. This meant making good decisions late to come out and win every ball into the box, via catches or assertive punches.
One thing I liked: With Chad Marshall momentarily on the sideline for injury, Frei parried a bouncing 39th minute shot wide of the goal and insured that Seattle would keep its 2-0 lead. This was a tricky save, and he made the smart play that conceded a corner but got Dad back on the field and the shutout intact into halftime.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 10th Frei got the ball caught between the spokes with an opponent bearing down on him and had to kick out under pressure. This was one of a number of poor clearances and ill-advised services from the back.
Going forward: Frei has had some rough luck keeping clean sheets this season, which is unfortunately a factor in GKOTY voting, but we will all remember that this was a bogus offside goal from Dom Dwyer that really shouldn’t count, right?
Nouhou – 7 | Community – 6.8
Nouhou played well, combining with Handwalla Bwana to frequently rampage up the left side in the first half, and he parlayed this offensive work into a tremendous 90 percent completion rate and two key passes. Defensively he was solid, showing 1-v-1 ability and supporting the back with good positioning.
One thing I liked: There’s plenty of healthy debate about the play and impact of Nouhou versus Brad Smith, but let’s talk about the 45th minute when Chris Mueller thought he was going to attack through Seattle’s left defense and he got hit by the HouTrain. He was not only turned away multiple times, but the Sounders left back shrugged him off like a cowcatcher and then turned upfield to find a teammate with a pass. This kid can defend.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 58th minute Dwyer got in behind and that was a big issue because he had just scored a goal and nearly scored a second.
Going forward: Nouhou is playing well (7.3) over his last few matches and while it was nice to see a few positive offensive stats, he is still a work in progress with the ball at his feet.
Chad Marshall – 7 | Community – 7.3
This was such a Chad Marshall game. Across the country, midweek in hot conditions, against a dirty forward, Marshall just played his solid near-perfect soccer and was a huge part of Seattle holding on to win. He had three interceptions and five clearances, and his 91 percent passing was clean and efficient in the back.
One thing I liked: In the 10th minute his calm defense on Cristian Higuita was awesome: first he won the header over the Orlando player, then chased the ball to the corner, and finally turned and found Alonso up the line.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 24th minute he got a foot on a corner, and in the 81st a head. Each could have likely ended the game, and he missed both. ☹
Going forward: The only thing that looks capable of slowing Marshall down is Frei, who has a bad habit of beating up on his defensive buddy (stop that!). Chad looks as good as ever, and he just coagulates the defense into a wall so magically.
Kim Kee-hee – 7 | Community – 7.1
While Marshall was making a few exciting defensive plays, Kim had a quietish, under-the-radar outing (severely lacking in Cryuff turns). What he did was keep possession (88 percent completion rate) and defend the lanes well (four interceptions, five clearances).
One thing I liked: Kim is starting to rival Roman Torres offensively, pushing up next to the right back and feeding in passes directly to attackers. What Kim offers in addition is great speed and anticipation, leading to interceptions and preventing counters.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 73rd minute he was sucked out of the middle by a smart run and this opened up space for Sacha Kljestan to have an open look.
Going forward: Once again the duo of Marshall and Kim was strong, and they don’t seem interested in giving up any more than one or two strong chances per match.
Kelvin Leerdam – 6 | Community – 6.7 (off 76’ for Francis)
Leerdam was tough to rate this week, as he had some nice high points within the match but struggled quite a bit as well. He only had a single defensive action, but he also created the two best scoring opportunities for Seattle.
One thing I liked: In the 3rd minute he found Víctor Rodríguez for a huge first goal and in the 55th again dialed up a perfect pass to Osvaldo Alonso that deserved an assist. That’s four assists on the year and Kelvin is starting to show great offensive instincts.
One thing I didn’t like: Defensively, Leerdam struggled at times, with a few bad touches. At least one time he was forced to foul when beat, and on Orlando’s goal he was completely beaten by Dwyer.
Going forward: This was another match where Leerdam often played in front of Cristian Roldan, and it’s great that he has turned this into a number of assists. Somewhere between him and the player in front of him, Seattle has to get this consistent offensive energy.
Jordy Delem – 7 | Community – 6.4
Most fans were likely happy that Delem was available to start this match. With resiliency and effort, he turned in his second solid match in a row. His passing was good, and he had a fairly quiet three interception, one tackle match, but his communication with Alonso in the middle was great, and these guys did well to protect the backline and prevent easy chances for Orlando.
One thing I liked: In the 43rd minute he recognized that Leerdam was well out of shape, so he seamlessly filled in on the right, drifting over to cover with a perfect slide tackle to win possession.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 21st minute he lost his marker on a give and go and it could have been a big play in the game, but luckily Seattle’s defense held.
Going forward: Delem is consistent and gives Seattle a great (4th?) option for defensive midfield at a great price. He is exactly the kind of player a good team needs to win games like this and he is a big reason they did.
Osvaldo Alonso – 7 | Community – 6.6
I again liked the mature, calm match that Alonso offered in Orlando. He led the match with four tackles, but he remained under control at all times and filtered the ball nicely with short, precise passing (94 percent completion). There was nothing particularly flashy about his performance, and that’s okay.
One thing I liked: Time and again Alonso found Víctor in the midfield, and these two were on the same page early and often.
One thing I didn’t like: I loved Ozzie’s 3rd man run in behind Bruin and V-Rod in the 2nd and 55th minutes as he was completely unmarked each time. The first was an unfortunate deflection, but there’s just no excuse for the second, with Alonso completely whiffing on a free shot from mere feet. He has to do better there to put the match out of reach, and it’s telling Orlando scored only minutes later.
Going forward: I enjoy watching Alonso play a composed midfield role and facilitate the actions of the attackers around him. Let’s hope Disney World is good for his recovery, because after the last short-rest matches he was a mess.
Handwalla Bwana – 6 | Community – 6.8 (off 61’ for A. Roldan)
It’s interesting to look at the development of Bwana, who once again delighted fans with exciting forward play in spurts. Offensively he scored a game-winning goal and had a key pass, and his 89 percent passing was clean and tidy. He had a number of defensive actions, but other than the goal, Handwalla was remarkably quiet on notable activities.
One thing I liked: In the 13th minute Bwana repeated a slick move he first showed off against Chivas to burst past a wrong-footed defender and put a strong shot on frame that deflected in.
One thing I didn’t like: Although he scored in the first 15 minutes, Bwana struggled for much of the rest of the match. That was his only shot in the match and he had a mere 33 touches.
Going forward: Bwana is a nice prospect — a young guy with speed and refined dribbling ability that Seattle is lacking from their depth. His direct play and potential improvement are worth watching, but he needs to show more than just flashes of strong play.
Víctor Rodríguez – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 8.3 (MOTM)
Asked to be the fulcrum of the offense, Rodríguez was exactly that. He absolutely smashed the stat book with three shots, three key passes, 88 percent completion, and the second-most touches on the team (behind Alonso) at 85. He even threw in a tackle and an interception to boot, showing that he could be effective as the primary creator in the center of the pitch. I’m guessing Víctor has more appreciation today for his teammate Nicolás Lodeiro and the amount of movement he makes every match. It’s great to know that in a pinch, Rodríguez can play the central creative role, although it’s even better knowing he won’t usually have to.
One thing I liked: V-Rod isn’t getting enough credit for his goal. In the 3rd minute he floated into space between the lines, darted into the box to retrieve a crafty diagonal ball from Leerdam, and scored. This wasn’t just any goal, however; he had to look at the keeper, know he was out, then re-sight the incoming pass, turn into its path, and then delicately first-time over the shoulder volley/chip a shot over the advancing keeper and under the crossbar. This goal was very impressive and he made it look easy.
One thing I didn’t like: Rodríguez tired around minute 60, and with him went Seattle’s offense. Without him to do everything, the team around him faded, and it was incumbent on the defense to hold on. (Spoiler: they did!)
Going forward: Many people haven’t appreciated Rodríguez, saying he’s injury-prone and even calling him a bust. These last few matches have shown that Víctor is an incredible player and a hugely important part of the team.
Cristian Roldan – 6 | Community – 7.2
It’s unsettling to realize that Seattle’s best player last season played a full 90 against a lousy Orlando team and barely cracked my stat sheet. Oh, he had a key pass, an interception, and a couple of clearances, but Roldan was remarkably quiet in this match.
One thing I liked: Roldan’s ability to play a thousand positions versus where he should play is another debate, but you know wherever he plays Cristian is going to defend. Against Orlando, he often dropped in behind the very forward and competent Leerdam, and their interchanging was nearly seamless.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 52nd minute Víctor got in on goal from a Bruin touch and was all alone against multiple approaching defenders. The right side completely let him down, and one of Leerdam or Roldan needs to get there as an option similar to last match, which resulted in goals.
Going forward: I don’t know where Cristian played for the last 30 minutes of the match, but I hope he has energy to play in Houston in a few days. Wherever he starts, Roldan has shown the ability to be good, and occasionally great.
Will Bruin – 6 | Community – 5.8 (off 90’ for McCrary)
If Bruin was tasked to go stand in between the center backs and occupy them while Víctor buzzed around underneath, he did that well. Unfortunately, he wasn’t remotely goal dangerous on his own, failing to tally a shot or key pass all night. His passing was rough, with only 59 percent of his attempts finding a teammate. Will did a lot of work to press angles and make Orlando somewhat more predictable out of the back.
One thing I liked: In the 52nd Bruin dropped into the middle and flicked on a great ball to Víctor Rodríguez, who was in on goal due to this nifty pass.
One thing I didn’t like: The lack of any dangerous attempts or even chances from your lone striker is a problem, and Bruin didn’t move the defense around enough or create proactive space to offset his personal offensive drought.
Going forward: Again, Bruin mostly got out of the way and let the others do their thing, but at some point, I would like to see him more involved. He may be injured as the usual high effort was definitely lacking.
Alex Roldan – 4 | Community – 5.1 (on 61’ for Bwana)
I did not understand the subs. Alex Roldan was brought in for Bwana, and then played a nebulous position that was hard to define but was some wide option. I failed to see a defined role for the younger Roldan, and he just looked tentative and kind of lost.
One thing I liked: His high run in the 79th minute earned a dangerous free kick for Seattle, after Alex was fouled.
One thing I didn’t like: Ostensibly brought on to firm up the defense with Bwana tiring, Roldan did little of that. In the 73rd and 78th minutes he had ugly defensive plays, with the second forcing Delem into a tackle that saw a card given.
Going forward: Roldan remains a mystery with positioning, as we conceded a goal last match after forcing him on as a defensive mid “to get him some time” and then he played wing. He shouldn’t get much time with starters back.
Waylon Francis – 5 | Community – 5.3 (on 76’ for Leerdam)
Who forgot Francis was on the team? The coaches decided another outside back was the answer with Seattle struggling to hold onto a late lead and Leerdam subbed off. Waylon completed half of his six passes and was ineffective as a wide midfielder.
One thing I liked: He pressed high in the 91st minute and Seattle won the ball, killing time, and this was a great example of what Bruin had failed to do.
One thing I didn’t like: Even though he was brought in to help defend the left side, it was Nouhou on multiple occasions late who stood up and stopped attacks, while Francis was slow to close down wide service.
Going forward: Francis got a few minutes and reminded us that he’s third string. Whenever Smith gets healthy, it’s unlikely Francis has much hope of playing.
Jordan McCrary – 5 | Community – 5.2 (on 90’ for Bruin)
When in doubt, add a fullback! McCrary went in to play right midfielder, and was energetic and active, without many results. He completed his one pass attempt and rushed forward with pace on the right a few times.
One thing I liked: Jordan had a nice tackle in the 94th that would have seen Víctor unmarked in on goal, but he was somehow called for a foul.
One thing I didn’t like: McCrary had a lot of effort but not much impact.
Going forward: It’s telling that Cristian was still playing right back over McCrary, and if he is just going to be a backup outside mid, there are better options on the team.
Mark Geiger – 5 | Community – 3.4
For about 60 minutes of this game, I thought Geiger did fairly well, and then he started playing to the scoreboard. Nearly all my notes are after Orlando scored, and seemingly every call (and non-call) was heavily in favor of the home team attempting a comeback.
One thing I liked: In the 32nd minute Bwana beat his man while being fouled and when he lost the ball a few steps later, Geiger brought he ball back for a correctly-called delayed advantage.
One thing I didn’t like: The calls late didn’t make sense to me. Josue Colman undercuts Bwana? No card. Delem tackles clean from behind but gets some of the man? Yellow. Delem kicked in the head? No card. McCrary tackles the ball clean to V-Rod? Foul called. A few are okay but literally every late call was one sided and I would think at least one would have been impartial.
Going forward: Chris Penso of “Dempsey tried to kill a dude” phantom VAR red card fame was in charge of the VAR in this match and it’s zero surprise to me that he ignored a blatant offside call in the 58th minute. The AR correctly kept his arm down and it’s incumbent on the VAR official to see that obvious (verified) error and at least ask the center to take a look and make his own determination. Maybe they let it stand, but they should be asking the center to have another look and decide, and that’s on you, Penso.
Orlando City SC MOTM
Dom Dwyer comes away with MOTM, surely not for his offsides goal, but instead for the effort he put in throughout the match, in spite of the stifling heat and humidity. Surely.
Seattle still has work to do for playoff seeding, and going into Houston and winning is something they have never done in the regular season. Sounders had never won nine in a row either, so screw that record and let’s win two more games to close out the season.