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Seattle Sounders vs. 2018: End-of-season player ratings, #26-#22

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The first group in Realio’s year-end roundup need to change their ways if they want to be back with the First Team.

Throughout this season I’ve rated each player for every match. This series of articles will present a recap of Realio’s Ratings, with players ranked in reverse order from 26 to 1. The ranking is from all MLS matches they played in this season, and I’ve included my thoughts on each player going forward.

Please feel free to ask if you want more in-depth data on these players, as I have game-by-game breakdowns, historical data on some players for up to four years, and tons of other info if you have specific questions.

Please keep in mind a few things when looking at these recaps:

  • Ratings aren’t the only way to judge a player, and these should not be considered official rankings. It’s merely how these players came out in my ratings for the season. While higher ranking players are likely better performers, using ratings to say “X player is better than Y” is not the full picture. There are tons of variables that go into ranking different players.
  • Sample size matters. A lot. Two late-game appearances where a player didn’t look completely out of touch may get him a cumulative 6 rating, but another guy who played 20 games and got a 5.9 may be a better player and more valuable to the team. Please consider how much some guys played and realize how sample size can skew both directions.
  • As you know, there was much improvement in the second half of the season. The team cumulative average increased from 5.570 after the second Portland game to 6.398 for the remainder of the regular season. Because 6 is average on this scale, it’s harder to raise a low early season mark, so remember that when evaluating the year-end ratings of those who struggled early.

26 team members played in the regular season for Seattle. Players on the senior roster who did not play: Calle Brown, Aaron Kovar, Felix Chenkam, and Jordan Morris.

#26 Lamar Neagle

Realio’s rating: 4.00 in six appearances

Community rating: 3.94

Rankinator ranking: #26

MOTM = 0 High = 5 Low = 3

Bringing Lamar Neagle back was a feel-good exercise, but he did not play well this year. All six appearances came early. He received lower than MLS average ratings each match and did not contribute to team success. I said this in the New England match, correctly forecasting that the 17th match of the season would be his last: “Lamar is a good dude and a great person off the field, but although he somehow found playing time in this match, I don’t see that happening much (if at all) for the rest of the season.”

What I liked: Lamar practices hard, and every single time I saw him at Starfire he was pushing himself and others. That kind of leadership is important through all levels of an organization.

What I didn’t like: Neagle wasn’t very good before he left Seattle the last time, and the version who returned from DC was older, slower, and less effective. I have no idea why he got time on S2 over others throughout this season.

Moving forward: This should be the last of the Neagle story. He’s been a tremendous asset to the team and the community. I wouldn’t mind seeing him continue to affiliate with the team in some capacity.

#25 Tony Alfaro

Realio’s rating: 4.250 in four appearances

Community rating: 4.23

Rankinator ranking: #25

MOTM = 0 High = 6 Low = 3

Tony Alfaro had a number of chances to step in and show that he’s improved his play. Instead, his appearances dropped from 15 in 2017 to four this year, and his ratings likewise dropped from 5.067 in 2017 to 4.250 in 2018.

What I liked: Tony played well in that magical game in Toronto, showing an ability to be a third centerback in a 5-man back line and limiting mistakes. At times he shows an ability to link up from the backline with quality passes.

What I didn’t like: Tony started the year by earning a 3 against LAFC, when he was red-carded off for an ill-advised tackle late. He ended the year with another 3, getting subbed at halftime against NYRB, never to see the field again. In between he didn’t show a lot of MLS-quality play.

Moving forward: It’s hard to imagine Alfaro will be back on the team. Some young players have been doing well at S2 and Tony is not likely to see any meaningful playing time. Once a promising project due to strong passing from the back, he hasn’t shown much value this year.

#24 Waylon Francis

Realio’s rating: 4.667 in 12 appearances

Community rating: 4.99

Rankinator ranking: #20

MOTM = 0 High = 6 Low = 3

Waylon Francis was considered an able veteran to pair with young Nouhou starting off the season, but he struggled most of the year to showcase defensive ability or offensive creativity. I said this mid-season: “With a chance to make the left back role a competition, Francis has fallen on his face in the last two matches. He was a huge defensive liability and offered almost nothing constructive going forward. I don’t know if he has just lost the plot or is indeed this bad, but he needs to regroup and figure out whether he’s an MLS-level player.” A few late appearances where he was “okay” did little to change that impression.

What I liked: Francis also featured in that Toronto win, and he did very well as a pure defensive player. As a wingback in a 5-back, he didn’t get forward much, but he and Alfaro did a good job holding down the left side.

What I didn’t like: Waylon had some stinkers, but his play away against Colorado was a particularly notable mess. He had terrible defensive positioning and continually forced Frei into heroic saves. Somehow Francis saw meaningful playoff minutes. It astounds me that an outside back would get beat so often to the middle.

Moving forward: It’s hard to see Seattle keeping Francis around next season, but there’s a chance the team doesn’t see a better option with Brad Smith potentially gone.

#23 Alex Roldan

Realio’s rating: 4.842 in 19 appearances

Community rating: 5.00

Rankinator ranking: #21

MOTM = 0 High = 7 Low = 4

Alex Roldan had nineteen appearances! That’s a lot for a rookie. Unfortunately, he was little more than a clock killer, taking up space at a number of positions. There were a few moments that showed glimpses of a higher ceiling, but often the younger Roldan looked merely like a high floor guy.

What I liked: Something happened on the road in Kansas City in his third appearance; Roldan exploded for a 7 rating via a shot, key pass, high completion rate, and a great job holding possession. He was a bright spot and looked ready to be an MLS bench player.

What I didn’t like: The younger Roldan kept getting chances — even starts — over others, when he was doing little to warrant it. He repeatedly got low scores for not doing anything special, when there were options on the bench who could offer more. He never again showed that spark.

Moving forward: His ability to control and link passes is potentially MLS level, but it’s hard to see at what position he fits best. A solid, unspectacular skillset can only get you so far. I think he’ll remain on the team, fighting for a spot on the roster, but he needs to show more of an intelligent, attacking mindset to do so.

#22 Henry Wingo

Realio’s rating: 5.000 in five appearances

Community rating: 4.60

Rankinator ranking: #23

MOTM = 0 High = 6 Low = 4

Henry Wingo looks amazing sometimes at practice. He has the size, speed, and athleticism to mix it up with bona fide MLS stars day in and day out. Something changed in games, though, as he often went from a confident option to a passive player who struggled to get touches and connect with teammates.

What I liked: Asked to play the lone forward against Toronto away, Wingo was excellent. He was able to hold up the ball, had pace to stretch the defense, and connected on 9 of 10 passes in a huge effort that helped Seattle secure a vital road win. This was a position I would have liked to see Wingo given a bit more chance to get some minutes at, instead of only being a wide midfield sub.

What I didn’t like: Wingo seems like a perfect bench option — a big strong kid who can come in and change the game with his pace and direct play against tiring defenses. But against the Timbers on May 13 and again against the Dynamo on Oct. 8, he had 15 minutes to sub in and make a difference. He struggled mightily both times, being too slow for MLS game speed and making poor decisions.

Moving forward: It’s not clear what role Wingo should fill on this team, and that confusion might be why his growth stalled. He has to figure out whether he’s a forward, winger, outside back, or central player. Right now, he’s too much a jack of all trades, and with the amount of competition I expect on this roster next season, he’ll need to develop and showcase MLS-level skills at wherever he plays best.