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Seattle Sounders vs. Colorado Rapids: Player ratings

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Nico Lodeiro sparkles as Sounders navigate Rapids with ease.

Yes, I was kind of angsty after an ill-prepared team got kidney-punched by a meh LA team. It was a completely different Sounders team that hosted Colorado, however, with all players showing improved play. Team tactics highlighted the individuals’ talents and they looked hungry and relentless, responding with an impressive outing. The 4-0 final score was a single Seattle win, but an essential one that brightened the playoff prospects for this talented team.


Goalkeeper

Stefan Frei – 6 | Community – 6.8

Frei needed two saves to get to 800 in his career, but he’ll have to wait at least one more game as he was only forced to make a single save. For the netminder, the Colorado game was a nice, sunny stroll around Century Link Field where he got to hang out, catch some rays and applaud whenever his teammates scored at the other end of the field.

One thing I liked: The single shot against was a corner kick header in the 50th minute that Frei stoned, keeping the Sounders up a goal. Moments later Nico earned a PK, so had he fumbled this save the entire afternoon could have been different. Frei’s concentration throughout the game was impeccable.

One thing I didn’t like: He inadvertently kicked Marshall in the 82nd minute, marring an otherwise fairly clean match. Don’t kick Dad, we need that guy.

Going forward: There’s not much to rate in a game where he wasn’t tested, but there were chances to lose the clean sheet and that didn’t happen, which is a credit to the entire defensive unit. Frei should clearly be in the GKOTY lead.

Defense

Nouhou – 7 | Community – 6.4

You know what rolled into the station this weekend? The HouTrain. Now it wasn’t chugging up and down the tracks with rampant enthusiasm, but there was a glimmer of the old Nouhou. He had a very strong match against Colorado, touching the ball second most on the field and doing well with those touches. Defensively, he was the rock we have come to expect, especially early with 10 of his 16 defensive actions in the first half. Offensively he made good decisions, and just missed Will Bruin in the 79th and Víctor Rodríguez in the 89th on excellent crosses.

One thing I liked: In the 37th minute Nouhou got the ball at the top of his own 18 and charged forward, dribbling at pace directly at the heart of the opponent’s defense, 60 yards of aggressive offense that ended with a layoff to V-Rod. This was a perfect example of the “old” Nouhou.

One thing I didn’t like: In the first 30 minutes Nouhou was okay, but wasn’t mentally involved. By this I mean as soon as he passed the ball he stopped, whether it was a throw-in, drop, or cross. He paused and watched. Instead, he needs to get more invested in what happens after he transfers possession to a teammate.

Going forward: What he needs is more of the confidence that we saw start to build as he grew into the match. Nouhou clearly needs to earn his teammates’ trust but looks capable of getting back on track as he returns to playing with enthusiasm. (Choo choo.)

Chad Marshall – 7 | Community – 7.2

Marshall didn’t have to do much in this match due to an anemic Colorado attack, because Seattle’s defense just choked any chances into nothing, pounding away at their resolve like a urologist on a kidney stone until the Rapids’ attack was nothing more than useless dust.

One thing I liked: While it may have looked like a walk in the park, Seattle’s defense shut the door emphatically, and through it all Marshall calmly found teammates upfield via short passes and headers that put Sounder attackers on the front foot and immediately alleviated any potential Colorado chance.

One thing I didn’t like: He was beat in the 50th minute on a header, and this set piece chance was also the Rapids’ most dangerous of the game. For shame.

Going forward: Chad is important to this team for his excellent positional defense but also for his demeanor that translates to calmer play from those around him. Other defenders have their strengths, but teammates seem to play cleaner around Marshall.

Kim Kee-hee – 7 | Community – 7.2

One thing Marshall does is allow those around him immense freedom, which we saw in increased range from Nouhou and Kim. Kim was able to get forward on multiple occasions, and his aggressive play complemented the more positionally conservative play of Dad. The communication between these two is sublime, and Kim appropriately took advantage of the opportunity to press aggressively.

One thing I liked: I really loved Kim’s decision making with Seattle pressing high. He was able to step up and prevent counters, as well as deny any long ball attempts with his speed when Seattle had numbers forward. His ability to cover so much ground contributed to the Sounders having a right-side heavy attack.

One thing I didn’t like: Kim only was 4/10 on long balls with 81% overall passing. Interestingly enough none of the back four had over 85% passing completion. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Going forward: This central defensive pairing was fantastic, and they cover for each other incredibly well. An added caveat in this one was Kim sliding over to allow Leerdam to play very high, which is another weapon for Seattle coaches to utilize as they search for more offensive balance.

Kelvin Leerdam – 8 | Community – 7.1

No backup right back on the bench suggests that Leerdam is nearing full health, and his play backed that up. He exploded into the offensive third time and time again against Colorado, leaving them completely befuddled as Seattle’s attack interchanged and mutated, growing another hydra head sometime between the LA game and this one. Kelvin was an offensive catalyst: he had three key passes and an assist in this match, swapping positions up the right wing with deadly results. He also casually tossed in three tackles and three interceptions, showing complete two-way ability.

One thing I liked: Leerdam not only got into the attack, but he made the right passes when he got there, staying high and repeatedly finding teammates in great scoring positions. This overwhelmed the Colorado defense.

One thing I didn’t like: At least once he didn’t crash the back post, and with a single forward it’s important that one of Cristian Roldan or Leerdam get all the way to the end line to support attacks through the other side.

Going forward: If Seattle gets consistent play from each wing they are capable of games like this against anyone. Leerdam is hugely important to the team because everyone knows exactly what to expect from him when he plays at this level.

Defensive Midfield

Gustav Svensson – 7 | Community – 7.2 (off 85’ for Bwana)

Svensson is so consistently strong in the midfield that we take for granted the things he does, and then against Colorado he showed there’s more. With Seattle strong defensively, suddenly the Goose was honking his way into the Rapids’ penalty area flapping his wings and wreaking havoc, with three shots out of defensive midfield. Svensson and Osvaldo Alonso were both great covering the middle and sheltering the backline. They worked together excellently.

One thing I liked: In the 7th minute Goose pressed very high underneath V-Rod, supporting a sustained Seattle attack. In the same minute he also busted his ass back defensively to cover an open runner with Alonso drifting wide. This is what you get from Svensson, unquestioned effort on both ends of the field, doing a million of the small things that never show in the stats but are absolutely essential to a winning team.

One thing I didn’t like: In the last month Svensson has shown an ability to recognize over the top runs from his deep defensive position. I would love to see him get rewarded for his great passes from this spot to put people (Leerdam, Raúl Ruidíaz) in scoring spots.

Going forward: Goose hasn’t had an outing below average all year and just repeatedly does what’s needed to help this team win. I dare you to not love this guy.

Osvaldo Alonso – 7 | Community – 6.6 (off 77’ for Delem)

I support this sort of outing for Alonso. He played well, didn’t get caught out too much, and supported his teammates having the ball much more than himself while holding strong central positioning. He had the sixth most touches on the team with a stellar 95% passing clip, sprinkled in some defense as needed (seven actions) and added a shot in a rare 64th minute journey forward.

One thing I liked: Alonso has great control and passing ability with each foot, and this let him combine on multiple occasions with Nicolás Lodeiro in tight quarters, helping Nico push the ball into dangerous positions when he otherwise may have been trapped on the wing or in traffic.

One thing I didn’t like: For the second time in a few games, video review was called on a bad tackle from Ozzie. Neither was terrible, and both likely justified to stay as yellow cards, but it shows a trend: Alonso is a step slow and reaching. No longer is he stealing the long touch of the opponent; he is being forced to tackle the loose ball versus a reaching opponent. This is just a side effect of being a different player, and he needs to adjust to his limitations to reduce dangerous encounters.

Going forward: When Alonso plays within himself, he is a solid defensive midfielder who can do great things. With Svensson and Leerdam getting forward to support the attack, Ozzie was allowed to focus on his strengths, and that worked well for Seattle.

Attacking Midfield

Víctor Rodríguez – 8 | Community – 7.7

This game showed exactly how dynamic Rodríguez can be. Combining seamlessly with Ruidíaz, Lodeiro, Roldan, etc., Victor’s movement and tactical positioning just destroyed Colorado’s defense, repeatedly creating mismatches, scoring chances, and goals. Víctor led Seattle with five shots, added a key pass to his goal and was in the middle of nearly every good thing that happened on both sides of the ball. His movement also allowed Seattle to effectively press, forcing Colorado to continually lose the ball.

One thing I liked: His goal was beautifully and assertively taken, but guess who led Seattle with a massive six tackles? V-Rod, who was magical on both ends of the field. He’s an incredibly underrated defensive worker.

One thing I didn’t like: In the 89th minute he missed connecting on a great Nouhou cross from just yards out, which would have added some deserved stats to both players had he scored.

Going forward: Some people have called this guy a bust because of his injuries, but you can see the absolute difference he makes when healthy and appreciate what he brings tactically. He is such a game-changing talent with his movement and technical ability and should play whenever available. His compatibility with Ruidíaz and Lodeiro makes both of those DPs more effective.

Nicolás Lodeiro – 9 (MOTM) | Community – 9.1 (MOTM)

The pure beauty of Nico’s play isn’t fully appreciated much outside of Seattle, but this game was one to show the skeptics. His stats were immense: three shots, six key passes, 92% completion rate, game high 115 touches, two assists, and a PK earned and scored. More than all that, he was the continual engine of the Seattle offense, time and again pushing the ball into the attack and creating chances with his passing and movement.

One thing I liked: The first goal was a classic Lodeiro goal where he did a little bit of everything and he earned the PK with his usual consistent pressure, but goal three stood out for me. In the 73rd minute he instinctively dives at the goal, somehow magically controlling a strong Rodriguez pass that may not even have been intended for him, avoids a wild challenge from Yohan Blomberg, and yet when he lost his footing did he wave frantically hoping for a PK? No, this incredibly cerebral player somehow had the wherewithal to poke a pass — from his back, no less! — across the face of goal with the faith that St. Ruidíaz would answer his prayer. (Spoiler: amen, brutha, amen.)

One thing I didn’t like: Nico lost the ball a few times in the midfield, and he put a set piece or two into the first man just to make sure he didn’t get a 10 from me, but Lodeiro is the kinda guy who likes a challenge, and now he knows he has to do a tiny bit more for the real(io) prize.

Going forward: Nico released from the chains of defense still plays enough back to keep teams honest while at the same time wrecking opponents like opioids on an empty stomach. Running a lineup that features fast players, quick thinking, concise movement and intelligent interplay unleashed Lodeiro and the Sounders’ offense. Remember what I said about this team needing a formation and tactical setup that complements their best player? It’s almost like the coaches read this or something.

Cristian Roldan – 8 | Community – 7.3

While I’m not sold on this spot for the elder Roldan (and neither is the staff, from the interview I saw and appreciated) he is such a talented player that he makes it work, and in the last few games he’s found his niche. With Victor adding spice and Leerdam adding variety, Roldan has learned how to fill all the cracks necessary to just win the damn game. Cristian didn’t have a single shot on the evening but created five key passes, won three aerials, and four tackles.

One thing I liked: With Seattle able to press out of the 4-2-3-1, Roldan again became the “wing destroyer” against Colorado and it was awesome. In the 51, 56, 63, 66, and 73rd minutes Roldan’s hustle directly kept the play alive, winning a header over a defender, stealing the ball, pressing and forcing a turnover, and on the last one, creating the counterattack that V-Rod scored from. This unselfish play quietly resonated on the scoreboard as Seattle put the game out of reach.

One thing I didn’t like: In the 49th minute Roldan made a spectacular run into space but was too unselfish, passing the ball instead of shooting with an open opportunity.

Going forward: Cristian played very well and until Harry Shipp is healthy, this is likely to be where he plays. If he continues to be this effective, I should probably just shut up about him needing to play elsewhere, eh? (Nahhhhh).

Forward

Raúl Ruidíaz – 8 | Community – 8.3 (off 75’ for Bruin)

Ruidíaz played 75 minutes against Colorado and “only” scored two goals on three shots, continually forcing Colorado on their heels defensively or pulling their hapless fullbacks out of shape. Raúl works so well in space and can directly change the field with his movement and intermittent, yet important, touches.

One thing I liked: This dude is a ninja in the box and it’s incredible how he can disappear before popping up in the perfect spot to smash a shot past a helpless keeper. In minute 22, RR popped up in the exact position to give Nico an angled pass to score the opener. He repeated this feat in the 73rd, beating everyone on the field to the exact (and only) spot that his guy could get the ball. Then he showed no mercy to the net.

One thing I didn’t like: Tim Howard was a little mad at Ruidiaz hanging a leg in on a chance, and Raúl is way too valuable to give even a tiny sniff of a chance for an MLS ref to see foul play.

Going forward: Back with room to work, Ruidíaz utilized that space expertly, combining with the other supremely technical teammates and butchering the Colorado defense all afternoon. RR is creating chances, finishing chances, and he’s easily lived up to the high expectations that came with his arrival.

Substitutes

Will Bruin – 6 | Community – N/A (on 75’ for Ruidiaz)

After a terrible game last week, Will had a lot to prove and ultimately, he acquitted himself well. Brought into a game for cleanup duty, Bruin did a lot of stuff I would have loved to see him do in his last few outings. He only touched the ball seven times and his 67% passing was suboptimal, but I was impressed with his movement and hustle that repeatedly opened up space for others.

One thing I liked: I really liked Bruin’s holdup play against Colorado. On numerous occasions he checked to the ball and controlled it or found a teammate or a foul. This wasn’t always pretty due to some rough touches, but Will showed great tenacity and his effort was easily notable.

One thing I didn’t like: In the 78th minute Will was slow to check to space that needed his run, but he made up for it a few minutes later by posting up in the middle of the six and holding the defense for a brutal V-Rod shot.

Going forward: Bruin hustling around late, banging with tired defenders and connecting with teammates is a perfect role for him. It’s not glorious nor pretty, but when he puts his mind to it he is very effective.

[Ed. Note: The community ratings form inaccurately listed Victor Rodriguez twice (once as a starter, once as a sub) and failed to list Will Bruin. As such, that rating has been omitted. Apologies to the community, the fans, and most of all to Will.]

Jordy Delem – 5 | Community – 6.0 (on 77’ for Alonso)

Delem made his second appearance in the last 12 matches and did exactly what you want him to do — touch the ball a few times, defend well, keep the scoreline at a shutout, and give Alonso some extra rest. He was very controlled, and there wasn’t a drop-off when the starters were out of the central defensive midfield.

One thing I liked: In the 84th minute Jordy had some great defense at the top of the 18, tackling hard and preventing a decent Colorado chance before finding a teammate.

One thing I didn’t like: In the 92nd he gave up a late, dangerous free kick.

Going forward: It bodes well for Delem that he got some non-garbage time first team minutes. It’s always nice to see subs come into the match and play strong, and Delem did just that.

Handwalla Bwana – 5 | Community – 5.7 (on 85’ for Svensson)

Bwana has considerable upside, and we got to see what he has to offer in his limited appearance against Colorado. It’s great to see him back, and he went a sparkling 4/4 passing while showing off some of the same intriguing offensive skillset that he displayed earlier in the season pre-injury.

One thing I liked: His movement without the ball was great as Seattle flew forward into the attack in waves, and in the 90th minute he drove at the defense on the dribble, a rare skill on this team.

One thing I didn’t like: He didn’t score. Loser.

Going forward: Bwana showed a tantalizing ability to drive at the opponents on the dribble and it’s nice to see him return from injury retaining this skill. He has work to do to be in a best 18, but this was a nice step.

Referee

Nima Saghafi – 8 | Community – 5.9

There wasn’t too much to ref in this match, with a listless Colorado coming in, giving up an early goal, and then limping through the rest of the match. Could he have called some more stuff? Sure.

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: Deklan Wynne had a 62nd minute stomp on Roldan that was as bad as the Alonso yellow and I thought deserved a card as well.

Going forward: This was a very strong and evenly refereed match. The cards made sense and were timed to protect the players and it was an excellent outing.

Colorado Rapids MOTM

Kellyn Acosta wins an ironical MOTM award for his edge of the box foul on Lodeiro that resulted in a penalty.


Hopefully I will be in better shape to watch the next match (and maybe even make it to the stadium!). With both teams likely down some key players, Seattle can demonstrate why its depth is superior as we run to the end of the season.