In another season I might be lamenting here about how Seattle looked okay for much of this game, outshot Los Angeles and out possessed them etc. I could probably make up some excuse for why losing 0-3 to a crummy team was a decent result. I won’t do that, because it wasn’t. A refusal to rotate tired and hurt players combined with lousy, ill-defined and poorly executed tactics and an unmotivated and passive team to produce this loss. This loss was even more disappointing because of the way it felt: a low tide of despair as we watched seemingly everything go wrong. My ratings reflect this feeling.
Stefan Frei – 5 | Community – 5.7
Seattle had let in three goals twice this season prior to this match; a Portland game and Dallas in the second game of the season. LA is good offensively but honestly, they didn’t have much more than the few goals they walked into the net (nor did they need more).
One thing I liked: Frei was credited with one save. It was likely on a sneaky 17th minute Ozzie Alonso set piece shot, a near-post strike that needed all of Stefan’s agility to keep from the net.
One thing I didn’t like: The Philly miss didn’t linger as continued poor play against LA. But neither did Frei magically save any shot that was going to score, and that’s a shame.
Going forward: Frei is still great, and three goals against just makes it easier for some East Coast voter to give GKOTY to Luis Robles or some other less deserving player.
Brad Smith – 3 | Community – 3.9 (off 17’ for Nouhou)
This was an abjectly horrible performance: 33% passing, zero defensive actions, terrible defense. In 15 minutes, he fumbled a ball away, gave up a ridiculous PK by falling on a guy, and had a terrible cross in his one true chance to get forward and influence the offense.
One thing I liked: When he got forward there was a single glimpse of how the 4-4-2 could work with wingbacks, but nearly every other minute showed this formation to be a disaster.
One thing I didn’t like: He was terrible for sure, but then he added injury to the equation. Off in the 17th minute after trying to play three times in a week.
Going forward: Even taking out the PK, Smith was terrible and worse than Nouhou by quite a bit. His passing, crossing, defense — pretty much everything — was much, much worse. He has to be a threat going forward to make this a tradeoff worth accepting, and he can’t do that hurt. Wupz.
Kim Kee-hee – 6 | Community – 5.7
Kim tried valiantly to rally his team and played very hard all match. His three clearances and 85% passing were very good when coupled with how much Seattle struggled to work the ball through the middle. Kim was forced to chunk passes up field looking for strikers, since the formation had stolen a midfield option.
One thing I liked: Kim did well to body up and limit Zlatan Ibrahimovic all match, and played hard. He consistently looked to attack and make passes into dangerous areas.
One thing I didn’t like: His communication with Nouhou seemed nonexistent, and when moved to a 3/5-back system Kim was lost, wandering around the left wing at times, often in front of Nouhou.
Going forward: Kim did what he could, and it’s hard to blame him for any of the goals. He also played three games in a week and still played strong, which is more than we can say for a lot of other players who looked tired and/or disinterested.
Román Torres – 4 | Community – 4.6
Torres had a disastrous outing in a chance to push for more playing time and rotation in the back. Although he had a nice five clearances and was 7/13 on long balls, it was his positional marking and poor touch that directly led to two of the three LA goals.
One thing I liked: In the 14th he slid across to defend behind Kim and was working well.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 40th minute “offside” goal Torres was beat three times, gliding around the LA pitch on ice skates and yet somehow that wasn’t as bad as only being beat once in the 52nd minute, a soul-crushing third goal that came from nothing and effectively sealed the game via completely awful defending.
Going forward: Torres didn’t offer an MLS level of ability to defend, instead showing a penchant for ball watching and a sloppy touch. This was a big chance to be that guy who hits cup-winning PKs and instead he’s the guy who passes to the other team up a man in the 93rd minute of a tie game.
Kelvin Leerdam – 5 | Community – 5.3 (off 54’ for Rodríguez)
Leerdam barely touched the ball, and the outside backs were absent on offense in this formation. He had only two chances at crosses, missing both, and otherwise had an okay 83% passing. Leerdam looked like he could have used some rotation in a short week, perhaps still dealing with the injuries he has been playing through, and he barely lasted a half.
One thing I liked: He didn’t belly flop on a non-dangerous guy in the box five minutes in for a PK.
One thing I didn’t like: Román Torres is never asked in the 52nd minute to trap a simple ball on his foot if Kelvin doesn’t foolishly decide to slide tackle 1-v-1 against Romain Alessandrini at the top of the box. It’s not Leerdam’s fault the ball hates Seattle and went right to Román to flub, but the entire sequence was so absolutely unnecessary and frustrating.
Going forward: Is he hurt? Are we playing him hurt? Is he tired? Is he just an expendable piece who won’t complain if he’s subbed? If we can’t depend on our right back to play the late minutes of a game and instead use our star d-mid there is a problem, and running dudes ‘til they get hurt seems like a bad choice.
Gustav Svensson – 6 | Community – 6.1 (MOTM)
Man, Goose tried. He worked so hard all week to hold the middle together, got moved to wide center back at one point, and still worked hard for the entire match when multiple teammates looked to be walking. His four tackles, three interceptions and two clearances in addition to 84% passing all were stellar stats for a guy alone at times in the middle.
One thing I liked: His 24th minute step up won a great chance for Seattle to counter, ending in Will Bruin heading the ball six yards wide of the goal.
One thing I didn’t like: Not being able to hear what he told Zlatan after he ate him defensively in the 74th minute. My guess is it was something like this “lol du har ägt son. Lärt sig det i VM. Åh var du inte där? Jag märkte inte att jag var för upptagen att äga dårar som spelar i världscupen. SKAFFA SIG. PÅ. MIN. NIVÅ.”
Going forward: If this week of ironman play in the middle isn’t a good enough reason to sign him, I don’t know what is. I’m done mentioning it.
Osvaldo Alonso – 4 | Community – 5.5 (off 79’ for McCrary)
Alonso has looked better in the last month than he did early in the season and leveraged that into an ask for a new contract. I haven’t been as impressed with his play as many of the community ratings and this performance was awful. Who could have guessed that a guy who looked awful on Wednesday and completely gassed wouldn’t be very effective a few days later? His defensive numbers were paltry (two tackles, one interception) and his range frighteningly low all the way until he was mercifully subbed in the 79th minute.
One thing I liked: In the 45th minute Ozzie stepped up neatly, stealing a ball and putting a low driven shot just wide of goal.
One thing I didn’t like: A lot went wrong on the second LA goal, but Ola Kamara (who scored on the play) ran directly behind Alonso down the middle of the field, got in between a sleeping defense and scored. Ozzie has been losing these runs all year and it was bound to happen. Moments before half. In what was still a very winnable match. Sigh.
Going forward: Asking this guy to play three games in short succession was pretty unfair, and the results from his declining play somewhat predictable, but I’m not sure anyone expected how stark his week would be. It appears the team has hitched itself to Alonso as a starting defensive mid no matter what.
Nicolás Lodeiro – 6 | Community – 5.9
I don’t know how many times we’ve played Nico wide in a 4-4-2 (flat or diamond) but it wasn’t a great fit for his skillset. Roaming around early put huge pressure on the left defense to, well, defend. Lodeiro had less creative midfield support and adding an immobile tree did little to open up passing lanes. Through this adversity Nico ran all over, had the most touches on the field, converted a high (86%) number of his passes and tried to make stuff happen, but the spacing and movement was just a mess.
One thing I liked: When Nico got isolated with Raúl Ruidíaz or Víctor Rodríguez they were able to combine. A nifty dummy run earned an open look for Ruidíaz, and Lodeiro never stopped trying to figure out how to connect with teammates.
One thing I didn’t like: There were some changes that got Nico moved more centrally or had better coverage for him to roam when the more defensively adept Nouhou was added, but man, this formation and tactical setup didn’t complement your best player, and I think it should.
Going forward: I don’t think Nico is a left wing/shuttler, at least not in the third game of a week. I think we should be playing to his strengths.
Cristian Roldan – 6 (MOTM) | Community – 5.8
This wasn’t a great positional fit for Roldan either, and he was asked to do everything all over yet again. He almost did everything, continually being a spark offensively and defensively, supporting a lagging team and never showing any quit. He tied for the team lead with two key passes, one of which was so egregiously missed he ought to get an assist anyway. His nine recoveries showed a guy willing to get back and help defensively.
One thing I liked: Roldan does whatever he can to help the team. Nine recoveries? Okay. Tireless wing play? Done. Show up as a backside runner, get the ball and loft a perfect pass to a striker to tie the game up and change the entire momentum of the match? Close enough. Drop into a central defensive position (hallelujah!) and prevent LA from getting a single shot off in the last 20 minutes of the match? Check.
One thing I didn’t like: Injuries to attacking pieces make it less likely that Roldan will play his best position and that’s infuriating.
Going forward: Roldan plays hard. He plays everywhere they ask him, and plays well. He doesn’t go on twitter rants. His reward is to run tirelessly up and down the wing three times in a week. Hooray!
Will Bruin – 4 | Community – 4.1
This was a disaster. The vaunted two forward look did nothing but clutter up space for Ruidíaz, remove a critical midfield piece, and force Seattle into a formation that they looked ill-equipped to take advantage of. All to get Bruin on the field so he could struggle badly all night. His runs were few and didn’t open space for anyone including himself, and he ended the night with a single shot and lots of failed holdup play.
One thing I liked: Will had some defensive actions, mostly recoveries from his own bad touches within the center circle, where he camped out for long periods of the match.
One thing I didn’t like: You thought I was going to talk about that? Hah. For the two forward setup to work one has to come to the ball, make space for the other in behind, hold up play, bring the midfield into the attack, etc. You might think Will Bruin would be in this role. You would be wrong. His holdup play was bad or nonexistent, and it was in fact Ruidíaz who was forced more and more into the midfield to try to get the ball, opening room for the non-speedy Bruin to get in behind. This might have even worked, but Bruin didn’t make those runs, instead posting up in between the center backs for a majority of the match.
Going forward: The elephant in the room has to be talked about: Will Bruin had a huge opportunity to potentially win the Philly game and whiffed. In this match Seattle was building momentum against a terrible defensive team and when Roldan lofted a perfect cross to Will in the box in the 24th minute with no one around and eight yards from goal he planted an awkward header yards wide. Didn’t even force a save, or even ask a goalie who has given up some 60 goals this year to break a sweat. Bruin had time to stop, tie his shoe, eat an ice cream, chest trap the ball and finish cleanly anywhere in the goal, or even pass it to Ruidíaz to finish and instead he tried to head it? Think of the goals that Bruin has scored. How many were headers? Will Bruin is terrible in the air, he doesn’t win headers often, he fails repeatedly to finish shots with his head and yet he continues to try, and he continues to struggle. You know who could head the ball? Chad Barrett. He just retired; maybe he can come give header lessons.
Raúl Ruidíaz – 6 | Community – 5.3
Ruidíaz had a sprained ankle. He played on it, and yet it was so bad he had to come out in the first half on Wednesday. Somehow, he was then asked to play 90 minutes a few days later. Frankly, I thought he looked hurt and tired and still was as effective as could logically be expected. His six shots led the team and he managed a stellar 88% passing clip even though he was often dropping in to help an overrun midfield.
One thing I liked: Raúl adjusted fairly well to Bruin being less mobile in the middle, and at times he dropped in like a central midfielder to try to help the tactical setup.
One thing I didn’t like: Ruidíaz looked too eager, pushing a 33rd minute shot wide and with lots of space trying an awkward chip in the 67th that was confusing. I would have liked to see him push into the box and force a lousy keeper to make a more difficult save.
Going forward: Handcuffing Justify to a Clydesdale didn’t work, limiting both and stealing numbers from a beleaguered and tired midfield. I am a firm believer in setting up this team around our best players and strategizing on how to get them the ball in the places they play best. They can be found via the “DP” designation behind their name.
Nouhou – 6 | Community – 4.8 (on 17’ for Smith)
Just looking at stats, Nouhou was a monster. He was unequivocally better than Smith on passing, crossing, and defense. 92% passing, leading the team with two key passes, 2/2 long balls, a tackle, three interceptions, two clearances, three recoveries. Underneath this stellar stat line was a disturbing undertone that bothers me: Nouhou looked beaten. Gone is the smile, the unabashed charge forward, the total CHOOCHOONESS of his game. Instead he is a tentative, hesitant player who looked scared to try anything he might get yelled at for. His entire game and demeanor have changed, and he frankly looked uninterested at times. Nouhou still played strong defense, but was always sure to get back and never took any chances with the ball, instead deferring time and again to a teammate. It’s like the Nouhou-ness has been sucked out of him, and that’s awful.
One thing I liked: In the 56th minute he looked up to find a square pass across the top of the box to an unmarked Lodeiro. In the 65th he cut back and had a similar cross to V-Rod. It was nice to see him explore some different options, and these were some of the best chances for Seattle.
One thing I didn’t like: Nouhou was slow (like the entire defense) right before half and Kamara slid right in front of him to score. Communication issues and lost runners through midfield aside, Nouhou simply has to recognize the dangerous run and get there. This was a killer goal that any number of Sounders could have prevented, especially Nouhou.
Going forward: I was so hopeful about his development this season, and while I don’t know the interpersonal dynamics, it’s a huge disappointment to see what this once-exciting player has become. I have been critical of tactical decisions and rest and rotation choices but have steadfastly credited the staff with negotiating egos and locker room stuff well in order to give this team a chance to succeed. I hope a few starts and maybe some support from a friendly teammate or encouraging word from a coach or two will help get him back on track, because he already had a very good game playing at what looked to be about three quarters his usual effort. Let’s get that train back on the tracks.
Víctor Rodríguez – 6 | Community – 5.5 (on 54’ for Leerdam)
Rodríguez was good in this game, active and trying desperately to make up for the midfield quicksand that just seemed to devour any movement or attacks. As usual he was an offensive catalyst, dropping in a key pass to go with his three shots, but like many teammates he struggled to find the correct spacing to succeed.
One thing I liked: Víctor continually moved to zone 14 and demanded the ball, getting it at least twice from Nouhou and attacking directly at the LAG defense.
One thing I didn’t like: For all his movement and attempts to connect, Víctor went 0/7 on passes into or attacking the LA penalty area.
Going forward: This team desperately needs attacking midfield help, and V-Rod has the skills to be the guy they need. It will be up to the coaches to figure out a tactical setup that doesn’t see all the Sounders’ best players stifled in the same areas and easily marked out of the match.
Jordan McCrary – 5 | Community – 4.9 (on 79’ for Alonso)
It’s not McCrary’s fault that the team decided to shuttle Roldan around like a box of Sham-Wows in an Amazon warehouse. Instead of removing Alonso earlier they let him wander around the midfield and then pulled Leerdam out. Eventually Jordan got some time as a wingback and Roldan was allowed back into the middle. McCrary courageously got forward with abandon, doing his best in limited touches (seven) to push the offense up.
One thing I liked: Jordan played almost zero defense, and attacked as well as you can when you expect a backup outside back to be creating offense for you.
One thing I didn’t like: Of his 75% passing, the most important one was missed, and it was his long cross that didn’t find any Sounders.
Going forward: This sub was confusing to me, if only because it didn’t happen much earlier, and the solution somehow being putting more wide defenders on didn’t add up. I don’t know. McCrary can’t seem to get time unless Leerdam is hurt, which hopefully isn’t the case currently.
JC Rivero – 6 | Community – 4.3
There wasn’t a lot to ref in this match, with a listless Seattle coming in, giving up a pretty obvious PK, and then limping through the rest of the match. Could he have called some more stuff? Sure.
One thing I liked: There wasn’t much to call, and this ref did an okay job of ... not calling much. He could have taken a look at the offsides call more strenuously, but ultimately, they deemed it okay and he played on.
One thing I didn’t like: The first yellow on Rolf Feltscher in the 32nd was a good call. Not calling a second in the 39th or 45th was ridiculous. Either of these fouls was yellow-worthy, and he had been warned. This was another instance of a referee allowing a player on a card to get away with stuff because they don’t want to ship them off. Does Seattle win if they play an entire half up a man and only down (potentially, if the first is called) a single goal? Maybe. Would I have liked to find out? You’re damn right I would.
Going forward: He wasn’t bad, but he wasn’t good either. Pretty average MLS ref.
LA Galaxy MOTM
We have a tie! (Has that happened before?) Emmanuel Boateng and Ola Kamara share the MOTM award. Hey, as long as Zlatan doesn’t win, right?
As you can tell I’m pretty pissed at a team that didn’t look prepared tactically, emotionally, or physically to play this match. That is on the players, staff, and everyone involved. You know what fixes this? Crushing a team on Saturday.