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Seattle Sounders vs. LAFC: Player ratings

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Seattle Sounders travel to Los Angeles, return with first loss of season.

Seattle lost their first game of the season in resounding fashion, a 4-1 beatdown from an in-form LAFC team. This match had rough performances by a number of Seattle players. With fixture congestion on the horizon, some injury concerns have arisen at the worst time, with multiple changes to the starting lineup forcing people to step up. In Los Angeles, unfortunately, Seattle rarely looked put together and were repeatedly victimized due to some appalling defensive mistakes.


Goalkeeper

Stefan Frei – 5 | Community – 6.2 (MOTM)

Frei gave up four goals for the first time in quite a while, but with his defense playing on roller skates for much of the match, it’s hard to fault him for any of them. He lacked any sort of cohesive defense in front of him and that is disappointing, as Seattle at times looked strong on the ball — when they managed to possess it.

One thing I liked: Superstar Carlos Vela got in behind way more than he should have, and Frei did well each time. Right before half Frei stopped a 1-v-1, when the Sounders “trap” failed miserably. Although he was rounded for a goal in the 55th minute, Frei forced a tough angle shot that a more hustling defense might have saved.

One thing I didn’t like: Frei didn’t have many options, but he did not help his team with distribution, at times putting guys under pressure or playing the ball out of bounds. With a lot of his teammates flustered, Stefan could have taken more of a leadership role and calmed them down.

Going forward: This defense has to be better, and it has to stop giving up goals in the first 15 minutes to good teams. This may not be all Frei’s fault, but he is the leader of the back and he needs to demand better from those around him.

Defense

Brad Smith – 4 | Community – 5.5

Smith completely disappeared against LAFC. He had half his normal touches, completed a dreadful 67 percent of his passes, and was a non-factor. He tried three crosses (none successful) and failed to complete a single pass toward the area in six tries. For a guy who came into this game as an “x-factor” that LAFC hadn’t seen, he didn’t show up. He was responsible in some fashion for all of the goals against.

One thing I liked: Smith co-led the team with six tackles. This was a lot of defensive work from him, and he stayed active in attempting to contain Vela.

One thing I didn’t like: Smith made some very bad choices on defense. Staying wide on Vela allowed him to be split in the 12th minute for a goal, and then in the 39th minute Brad started to step to Eduard Atuesta, then dropped off to double-team Vela with Kim, allowing an uncontested shot for goal No. 2. On the third, he jogged after Vela and got a nice view of his goal. Their fourth score saw Smith fail to close down a player who slotted in Christian Ramirez. Atrocious defending.

Going forward: Brad isn’t the strongest defender, but he usually gives some offense, too. This game had terrible defense and zero offense, and that’s a bad combo. Not every team is LAFC and able to exploit this, but that was a bad outing.

Kim Kee-hee – 6 | Community – 4.9 (off 64’ for Delem)

Just like in pre-season when Seattle tried Kim on the left, he looked completely uncomfortable. Matched up with Vela, Kim did a decent job preventing the dangerous striker from cutting onto his left foot, but beyond that, the left side defense struggled. Kim was “okay” with a couple tackles, interceptions, and even a shot on goal before being subbed in the 64th minute.

One thing I liked: Kim led the team with 90.3 percent passing on the evening and was one of the few Sounders who consistently found teammates and kept possession.

One thing I didn’t like: There was zero cohesion in the backline. Kim was strong stepping into defensive spaces and yet Torres and especially Leerdam were never in sync with that movement, so much so that multiple goals took advantage of the gaps in between these players.

Going forward: It’s hard to tell whether Kim was okay or as bad as the others around him, with the team playing from behind against a better team all match. Kim on the left has not looked good this year.

Román Torres – 4 | Community – 3.2

Torres looked fit and competent in his substitute appearances this year, and I thought he’d be a great option when the team needed to give Chad Marshall a rest. Unfortunately, Torres struggled mightily with the speed of the game, being overrun repeatedly by the opponents and playing on a completely different page than his teammates. His 74 percent passing was rough and he failed to ever look comfortable in the back.

One thing I liked: Román led the team with four clearances, and he played a full 90 minutes without being carded off the field which allowed other players to heal and get rest.

One thing I didn’t like: I don’t have words to describe Torres’ dive to the ground, eight yards away from Atuesta in the 39th minute in one of the most pathetic “slide tackle (?)” attempts I’ve ever seen.

Going forward: This performance didn’t make me feel good about our defense or depth for the future.

Kelvin Leerdam – 4 | Community – 4.7

I’m surprised this game ended with Leerdam on the field. Not only did he play awful, he clearly checked out of the match early in the second half. He had two tackles, an interception, and 80 percent passing, but it was his mental game and communication with Torres that were absolutely terrible. There were times I expected Leerdam to get the second yellow and be done with it, as he was aimlessly wandering around for about 15 minutes before closing out the match.

One thing I liked: Kelvin had a nice pass into the box in the 55th minute with the score 1-2 right before LAFC came down and scored. If that had turned into something, it’s possible the entire game could have been much different.

One thing I didn’t like: The last two goals of the game, when Seattle still had a chance to make something of it, were directly attributable to Leerdam turning off. First, he kept Vela onside on goal No. 3, and then he just watched Ramirez walk by him and score No. 4.

Going forward: Kelvin has a temper and is definitely an emotional guy. We’ve seen him get a petulant red. In this match he simply quit on his team. And whether it was on purpose or as simple as him checking out, I don’t care to ever see that lack of effort again.

Defensive Midfield

Gustav Svensson – 7 (MOTM) | Community – 5.7

Svensson was up for this game and was one of the few Sounders players who looked able to fight for his team. He was a monster in the midfield breaking up plays, with six tackles from defensive mid before switching back to center back in the 64th minute and looking strong. With Svensson and Nouhou in the back, the Sounders defense looked more composed, and they held LAFC without a shot for 25 minutes after they switched into defense.

One thing I liked: Goose took charge in the back, “Marshalling” his troops and pulling the Seattle defense together. It worked, and Seattle held LAFC without a shot for the longest point of the match as soon as this change took place.

One thing I didn’t like: Although Svensson worked hard, Mark-Anthony Kaye had a field day, with three assists on the evening. Two of those came right from the middle of their offensive third in areas that the Sounders defensive midfielders must defend better.

Going forward: Svensson did fairly well in this match, and he should be considered to play left center back if Seattle is missing Marshall, as he looked the best of the central defenders.

Cristian Roldan – 6 | Community – 5.5

Like Svensson, Roldan did everything he could to play the two-man midfield against the three of LAFC. He had five tackles but only six recoveries, as Seattle’s middle was overwhelmed at times. Cristian balanced his defense with some offensive work too, and earned a key pass in the 74th minute.

One thing I liked: Roldan played hard throughout the match, mixing it up in the middle and continually trying to connect with others. He did a little bit of everything and adjusted well when Svensson was dropped to the back line.

One thing I didn’t like: Cristian only had 74 percent passing accuracy and struggled to link up with teammates. This was a huge issue, as Seattle failed to create any long-term possession against a team that starved them of the ball. Better passing would have helped immensely.

Going forward: Roldan needed to be amazing against LAFC and he was just pretty good. Seattle must figure out a way to play against a midfield that overloads the zones that the Sounders defensive mids occupy.

Attacking Midfield

Víctor Rodríguez – 6 | Community – 5.0 (off 64’ for Nouhou)

When Rodríguez touched the ball, he was very good against LAFC, but he only touched it 34 times, which is clearly not enough for a player of his caliber. Offensively, he did all the things we are used to seeing, with two key passes, 85 percent completion rate and the lone Seattle assist, but there was no consistent plan by Seattle, and V-Rod frequently got lost.

One thing I liked: V-Rod’s movement on the Sounders goal was excellent. He plays a three-man triangle with Smith whose pass to Roldan is dinked into his neat inside run. This play cut out four defenders. Víctor then drove right at the defense to cut out another and give Shipp an entire goal to work with. Neat, tidy play from Víctor, and a deserved assist.

One thing I didn’t like: The vaunted left side attack for Seattle was nonexistent. They couldn’t get possession and therefore were unable to work the intricate triangles that so effectively spurred the Sounders to success this season. With that combo missing, Seattle’s offense went dormant.

Going forward: If you are looking for a bright spot, the idea of V-Rod playing in the middle is clearly a great option. Every time he drifts into this space, he creates things for others as well as anyone on the team, say if you were missing your #10 or wanted to play him deeper for some reason.

Nicolás Lodeiro – 6 | Community – 5.2

LAFC did a good job of shutting down Lodeiro, and it started with great spacing. Nico was a willing runner but he struggled to get on the ball with any space, and when he did so there were few runners. He worked hard on defense, with three tackles and two interceptions, but failed to drop in enough to help the overloaded midfield behind him.

One thing I liked: Nobody runs more that Nico and he busted his ass. He was called for five fouls, and most were from hustling around trying to help defensively. On a day that he failed to get a key pass, Nico still played the entire match pushing the ball forward relentlessly.

One thing I didn’t like: Seattle appeared to have scouted the LAFC loss and noted their struggles with over the top balls, and Nico was intent on playing ultra-direct early. This was a problem, especially in the 39th minute when, presented with an easy pass to Smith wide to start the offense, Lodeiro instead tried to force the ball upfield through multiple defenders to Morris. This completely backfired, and Frei was picking the ball from the net moments later.

Going forward: I’m guessing Nico plays three games this week and that’s a concern. If anyone can do it, he can, but man, that’s asking a lot.

Harry Shipp – 6 | Community – 5.2

Shipp didn’t have a particularly flashy match, but he did his job and did it fairly well. He didn’t touch the ball much but when he did, things happened. He had two shots, a key pass, a goal, and he worked hard on his side to limit Diego Rossi from pillaging down the wing.

One thing I liked: Presented with the ball in space in the 51st minute, Shipp calmly slotted home a goal and for a minute, it looked like Seattle had some momentum and a chance to make a game of it.

One thing I didn’t like: 37 touches and Shipp had a chance to be an active part of the match but instead was an afterthought, only popping up a few times to impact the match. Usually clean with the ball, his passing was a dismal 65 percent.

Going forward: If all Harry Shipp does is score when he plays, he should play a lot. There was a ton to improve on in this match, but the team should have some confidence that he can finish when given an opportunity.

Forward

Jordan Morris – 6 | Community – 4.8 (off 68’ for Wingo)

Morris up top was something I’d hoped to see in this match and it looked okay. He made good runs and when the team found him, made good decisions with the ball. A nice 88 percent passing rate complemented his holdup play.

One thing I liked: On the Sounders’ goal Morris absolutely ripped the LAFC defense apart. His diagonal run across the box behind the defense pulled Jordan Harvey so far away from the play he fell down when the pass went behind him to Shipp. This was perfect movement.

One thing I didn’t like: Morris only touched the ball 22 times and only one touch in the box. That isn’t enough for any striker, and the team (and Jordan) need to figure out how to get him into more dangerous areas with the ball.

Going forward: Morris has to do more when he’s on the field, and the Sounders have to figure out a way to get him the ball in dangerous places.

Substitutes

Nouhou – 6 | Community – 5.8 (on 64’ for Rodríguez)

Nouhou came on to play defense and Seattle played its best defense soon after he came onto the field. Credited with a clearance and a blocked shot, the new left defensive shift did a strong job limiting LAFC and stopping the bleeding.

One thing I liked: Nouhou locked down his side and had 90 percent completion rate on his passes. It was a big improvement.

One thing I didn’t like: The young left back only got forward a few times, and his only cross went wanting. Seattle didn’t need him to get forward, but I would have liked to see improved service.

Going forward: There was a lot wrong with the defense, and Nouhou didn’t fix it all himself. He did play well as a substitute and should be considered a strong candidate for more playing time as warranted.

Jordy Delem – 6 | Community – 5.3 (on 64’ for Kee Hee)

Delem got some time for the first match since opening night and looked very good. Inserted next to Roldan in the midfield, he had a sparkling 89 percent completion rate as he sprayed passes around the park. Delem looked excellent holding the middle and finding teammates.

One thing I liked: Jordy hit a great variety of passes, short, long, and most importantly found teammates forward, continually finding vertical passes that Seattle was previously missing from the midfield.

One thing I didn’t like: In minute 86 Delem tried a short pass in the back and it was nearly a disaster, missing his teammate. Losing possession this deep in his own half is something he will want to limit.

Going forward: This was a very nice shift from Delem, who showed the ability to step in and play well.

Henry Wingo – 5 | Community – 4.8 (on 68’ for Morris)

Wingo got his first run with the first team Sounders against LAFC and it was at forward. He only touched the ball eight times, but he did a decent job of stretching the field and was an active and willing runner.

One thing I liked: Wingo completed 75 percent of his passes, one of which entered the area.

One thing I didn’t like: In the 71st minute Wingo got the ball in the box and looked kind of lost, eventually crossing back and losing possession.

Going forward: Last I heard, Seattle was turning Wingo into a right back, so of course he played striker in LA.

Referee

Baldomero Toledo – 5 | Community – 4.7

Toledo is always the referee who will get involved with his ego and this game was no different.

One thing I liked: LAFC took Seattle out of the match, so Toledo didn’t feel the need to throw around cards as much as you might expect. No Sounders were red carded.

One thing I didn’t like: When Torres got a yellow in the 22nd minute and Walker Zimmerman made the exact same “professional foul” in the 27th and no card, we knew it was a Toledo match. As usual, that wasn’t the only time he failed to be consistent.

Going forward: It’s Toledo. He lets stuff go, then drops lots of cards, making choppy games, and creating an atmosphere that isn’t great soccer. Nothing new here.

LAFC MOTM

Carlos Vela had two goals. Mark-Anthony Kaye had three assists. The pie chart below checks out. (Seriously, though, Vela tore apart Seattle’s defense and is more than worthy of his Man of the Match award.)


The suddenly-improved San Jose Earthquakes come to Seattle on Wednesday. The Sounders should completely erase that LAFC debacle from their minds and focus on two home games this week and a chance to get back on track.