Watching live I was pretty satisfied with a hard-fought road point against a Minnesota United team that hasn’t lost at home and is having a much-improved season. But on the re-watch, I was disappointed with the 1-1 draw. Seattle was the better team for vast portions of the match, consistently creating the better opportunities, yet they failed to put away their best chances and left without the full points.
Stefan Frei – 6 | Community – 6.9
One reason Seattle should have won this match was Frei was only forced into making two saves on the evening, neither of which were particularly challenging. With opposition attackers filtered away from goal or forced into speculative long shots, the defense in front of Frei made his saves predictable and blocked any other attempts on frame. There was nothing Stef could have done on their goal, a top corner looping header that he had no chance at.
One thing I liked: Minnesota created a nice scramble play in the 66th minute that had some of everything: deflected shots, half chances, defensive blocks, etc. On this scrum, Stefan did well to punch away a loose ball, preventing the home team from any more half chances.
One thing I didn’t like: Frei struggled to find teammates with his distribution, failing to either play short to feet or connect with long clearances. A nervy moment in the 24th minute saw Stefan set up his left foot to clear before launching a ball wide and out of bounds under pressure.
Going forward: Stef didn’t have to do a lot, and the Sounders seem determined to give up a goal a match, but Frei isn’t getting beat on anything except the best-worked goals. That bodes well for a team that should expect to score more than a goal per match going forward.
Brad Smith – 5 | Community – 6.5
Where in the world did Brad Smith go? After a herculean effort a week ago against a much better team, he was a complete afterthought against Minnesota. The guy averaging almost 50 passes a match only had 38, went 0/3 crossing and completed a mundane 71 percent of his attempts. He was credited with a single tackle, although he had five recoveries defensively.
One thing I liked: When Brad finally got forward in the 42nd minute it immediately created space for teammates and even though his cross went wanting, the rebound found a cannon hidden up the leg of Cristian Roldan.
One thing I didn’t like: While he played high up the field positionally for much of the match, Smith rarely seemed to get into good attacking positions, and of his seven attempts to play into or toward the box, none were successful. Seattle needs that attack from the width.
Going forward: Seattle is much better when Smith contributes offensively, and this may have been just a solid performance by Romain Metanire combined with Brad and V-Rod being a little out of sync.
Chad Marshall – 5 | Community – 6.1
I thought Marshall looked hurt and slow in this match live, and the re-watch showed enough worrying confirmation. He had 77 percent passing and a number of defensive actions, but it was his positioning and the uncomfortable way he played that should alarm fans.
One thing I liked: Even clearly struggling on the evening, Chad was still mostly his usual solid self and on multiple occasions slid across to make the necessary block or support the middle behind a beaten defense.
One thing I didn’t like: Dad looked tired, and was limping on a number of occasions, even before he was easily outjumped by Ike Opara for Minnesota’s only goal.
Going forward: Marshall has never played awesome after flights, and the optimist in me wants to chalk this outing to the plane rust. I know he’s basically game to game, and we should know not to expect him to make long trips (like to Orlando next week).
Kim Kee-hee – 6 | Community – 6.5
Kim was all over the place, in good and bad ways. He led the team with four interceptions and had a massive eight clearances but also created some gaps in the defense as he was frequently out of position. Kim did well to be a consistent force across the back, continually supporting both central and wide, showing a lot of range.
One thing I liked: Kim has started to win headers on set pieces, and it’s just one more tool in his arsenal. On multiple occasions in the last week he created flick-on opportunities that the newly healthy Raúl Ruidíaz should profit from.
One thing I didn’t like: Although the goal wasn’t directly his man, the foul that created the set piece (and a similar one in the 2nd minute) were due to an over-aggressive Kim stepping up and fouling an opponent in a bad spot. Giving lesser teams dead ball situations is never a good idea in MLS.
Going forward: Kim was good in this match and did a nice job quietly going about his business. While not perfect, it’s important to note that these defenders gave very few quality looks to Minnesota.
Saad Abdul-Salaam – 7 | Community – 6.2
The biggest surprise of the match was Abdul-Salaam, who had frankly looked awful in some pre-season and Tacoma Defiance matches. All of that is moot, though, because he came into this match and played as well as, or better than Kelvin Leerdam for 90 minutes. SAS was fantastic, combining lock-down, defensive positioning with sneaky good offensive movement and support. He led the team with a 91 percent completion rate and had the 5th most touches on the team.
One thing I liked: I didn’t expect much from Saad, but boy did he impress, from seamlessly supporting defensively across the middle in the first 10 minutes and recovering well on multiple occasions (six recoveries), to a nuanced offensive skillset that included juking Osvaldo Alonso out of his shoes in the box before sending a cross just over the waiting forehead of Jordan Morris.
One thing I didn’t like: There wasn’t a lot to dislike, but I was pretty disappointed in the combination play up the right with Bwana in the game. These two players rarely connected positively.
Going forward: Shout out to Brett Hightower who was a huge proponent of this signing. It’s just one match, but Garth may have done it again. If SAS can play like this consistently, Seattle has the deepest group of outside backs in the league, with each side and each player offering MLS-quality skill in different packages.
Jordy Delem – 7 | Community – 6.2
For me, this was one of Delem’s best performances because I barely noticed him. He just quietly did his job to the tune of the third most touches on the field with a 77 percent completion rate, four midfield aerials won, three tackles, four clearances, and six recoveries. It wasn’t flashy in any sense, but it was brutally effective, and a big reason why Minnesota failed to create much centrally.
One thing I liked: Late in the match Jordy was still going strong, and in a 10-minute stretch from the 67th to 77th minutes Seattle dominated to the tune of 62 percent possession. Delem was everywhere, with multiple tackles, two recoveries and a clearance, spurring Seattle on as they nearly scored twice.
One thing I didn’t like: Delem is already a solid MLS defensive midfielder, but if he wants to take the next step he needs to connect on forward passes. A majority of his incompletions were long balls forward, and he can improve there on his 3/10 completion rate.
Going forward: Jordy may not win you a match, but he isn’t going to lose it for you. He will give his teammates a chance to excel while he quietly goes about his business, and that is just fine.
Cristian Roldan – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 7.8 (MOTM)
Roldan was more than up for the challenge of going against Ozzie Alonso, replicating everything his opponent brought but adding much more positive play going forward. It wasn’t a perfectly clean performance, but Roldan was the fulcrum of the transition play through the middle and when the team needed him to show a bit of brilliance, he brought a bucketful.
One thing I liked: The goal Cristian hit is the kind of chance Alonso has been kicking into Puget Sound for ten years. It was perfectly struck and hopefully starts a rivalry between Svensson and Roldan on who can score more from deep, which is an element this team has been lacking for years.
One thing I didn’t like: Just because Roldan has great balance, he doesn’t get calls. It’s amazing how his low center of gravity makes him nearly impossible to knock over, but referees also interpret his failure to fall as lack of a foul. That is extremely frustrating, although likely not as frustrating as being smacked in the face with deliberate elbows.
Going forward: I’ll admit, Alonso was pretty good, although I prefer Cristian’s vertical passing and attack over Ozzie’s ultra-conservative horseshoe of death choices. I know who’s more likely to be healthy by the last game of the year when these guys face off again (knock on wood).
Víctor Rodríguez – 6 | Community – 6.0 (off 85’ for Ruidíaz)
It was great to see Rodríguez back after a scary head injury, and he slid nicely into the lineup to help create. V-Rod did a lot of good things in the match but struggled to link up with Smith on his left and Morris in front of him, clearly having some trouble integrating back into the lineup.
One thing I liked: Morris should have scored in the 23rd minute and it all started off some tenacious defending in the central midfield from V-Rod. After winning a tackle, Rodríguez immediately transitioned the ball forward to Morris and then followed up the play giving a wide option to his right.
One thing I didn’t like: Similarly to other Sounders, Víctor was effective until it came to connecting passes into the area. He was unsuccessful on all six attempts to complete a pass into the Minnesota penalty area, and at times was uncharacteristically slow to pull the trigger.
Going forward: We need to get more offense from this guy, but without Smith connecting up the left wing much, Víctor was stranded without options. Ruidíaz’ return should help some of the spacing issues.
Nicolás Lodeiro – 8 | Community – 7.2
Lodeiro played well again this week, touching the ball over 100 times (104) and completing 83 percent. He continually pushed the ball into good spots and was the only Sounder credited with a key pass, of which he had four to go with an unfortunate header off the post. Additionally, Lodeiro had four tackles, two interceptions, and five recoveries.
One thing I liked: Nico could have had multiple assists, including a 23rd minute cross to Morris that was somehow missed. He was a strong 5/9 crossing and his corner kicks created great chances all night.
One thing I didn’t like: Nico gets hacked every match and nothing comes of it. Five more fouls suffered, with multiple others uncalled, and not a yellow card for persistent infringement to be found.
Going forward: Lodeiro was strong this match but was unable to do more than give his teammates chances — they have to finish. Hopefully getting Raúl back will help this.
Handwalla Bwana – 5 | Community – 5.7 (off 60’ for Bruin)
Similarly to Smith, after a very strong outing against LAFC Bwana just completely disappeared in Minnesota. He had just 22 touches this week, and he completed a dismal 62 percent of his passes. He was badly beat defensively a number of times and the concentration that defined his stellar defensive work last weekend was missing.
One thing I liked: Bwana didn’t try to do too much and was cautious at not losing the ball in bad positions early. This is the kind of thing you want to see with a new right back behind him. Quietly staying out of the way as bigger stars like Nico and V-Rod touch the ball may have been the game plan.
One thing I didn’t like: Where did he go? Absent was the stellar defending from the LAFC match as well as the impressive attacking from the San Jose game. A single clearance was his entire defensive stat line, and he only created a single forward chance that ended with him overshooting everyone with an errant cross.
Going forward: We all know Bwana can play well, and we have seen his upside in flashes. Now he needs consistency, as that performance was good justification for more Harry Shipp minutes.
Jordan Morris – 5 | Community – 5.8 (off 79’ for Torres)
After a strong effort up front down a man, Morris regressed a bit this match attempting to play the point of Seattle’s 4-2-3-1. When he did touch the ball, he had a sparkling 87 percent completion rate, but only had 17 touches in 78 minutes, showing his inability to get open and the Sounders’ failure to find him when he was available.
One thing I liked: Jordan made some nice runs, including one where he got into a great spot in the 23rd but put his shot off the post from close, and another in the 32nd where he finished strong into the top corner near post but was offside.
One thing I didn’t like: The offsides were completely out of control. I appreciate holding a high line but Jordan needed to adjust earlier, either holding his runs for slow teammates or coming back quicker. Five times in the first half he was off, killing numerous forward pushes and Seattle momentum.
Going forward: Morris has shown he can do more, but this lineup didn’t find him in spaces where he could succeed, and he didn’t find ways to do so. He likely moves back to the wing with the forward depth being bolstered this week, but he still needs to learn how to play forward, as I believe he can succeed there.
Will Bruin – 6 | Community – 6.0 (on 60’ for Bwana)
Bruin came in and worked hard. His first touch was an overly ambitious push toward goal over the top versus three defenders, but it was nice to see a forward get the ball in that spot and attack the goal. His passing was not great (67 percent) and some of his turnovers put Seattle in bad spots, but he was a clear energy addition to the match.
One thing I liked: Will was instant offense. He had a nice 78th minute touch behind and cross back followed by an 81st minute header off the post and some clever 84th minute holdup play as well.
One thing I didn’t like: For a big guy Bruin has never been a great header of the ball, and it sucked seeing him put yet another good chance wide.
Going forward: Will Bruin is going to get time and chances to change scorelines. His nose for the goal is excellent, and he should continue to be a great option off the bench.
Román Torres – 6 | Community – 6.1 (on 79’ for Morris)
Torres came on and once again looked very strong in every facet of the match. Defensively he was added to a back five, and this formation looked okay.
One thing I liked: He looks energetic and active, especially on offense. He found another corner kick header in the 81st and has shown great ability this season to be a focal point of offensive set pieces.
One thing I didn’t like: The back five still seems a work in progress, and it’s hard to tell whether it’s working or not, which is a little concerning 10 matches in.
Going forward: With Marshall looking fragile lately, having a fit and in-form Román Torres is awesome. He’ll get plenty of time as long as he keeps playing well.
Raúl Ruidíaz – 5 | Community – 5.6 (on 85’ for Rodríguez)
Raúl had five touches, a successful dribble, and a tackle defensively. He didn’t attempt a pass.
One thing I liked: It’s great to see this star striker back. We need his scoring, his positioning, his scoring, and his ability to make everyone around him better. And his scoring.
One thing I didn’t like: The two-forward look (was it?) did not show me that Bruin and Ruidíaz should be on the field together.
Going forward: Don’t forget this guy scored in like 32 straight matches for this team. He is so magical in the area with his movement and finishing, that hopefully he’ll get completely healthy and be on a roll, starting this weekend.
Tim Ford – 6 | Community – 5.3
Ford is a new referee for Sounders as far as I know, and he was okay. The game ran fairly smoothly, although there was a two-to-one foul discrepancy from Minnesota (16) to Seattle (8) with Roldan and Lodeiro picking up 11 of those fouls without a persistent infringement card to be found.
One thing I liked: Other than the lack of cards for PI, this staff did well to adjudicate the match and kept players safe while making correct calls on most of the fouls committed.
One thing I didn’t like: Jan Gregus had a kick foul on Roldan that was yellow worthy in the 34th. He then fouled again in the 39th and still didn’t get a yellow. He fouled Nico in the 42nd and threw the ball away, still without a card. He finally got that card for a red cardable cocked elbow on Roldan in the 45th. Three minutes later he again had a high arm that hit Lodeiro and after that 10 minutes of soccer the tally was: five fouls, zero warnings, one yellow card, zero red cards, and two broken Sounder faces.
Going forward: This was a good debut for a new ref; there are many worse referees in MLS. But I’d love to know what the heck constitutes a red card offense in this league these days.
Minnesota United FC MOTM
Despite having a goal and severely restricting Morris’ involvement, Ike Opara loses out to the nostalgia pick. Ozzie Alonso is your MOTM in this one, not just for his many years of stellar midfield play Rave Green, but for what he contributed to this actual match (I would hope). Alonso was pristine in Minnesota’s initial buildup phase, completing a sparkling 98 percent of his passes.
The best team by points per game comes to Seattle this weekend in the form of the Houston Dynamo. I’d love to see our team get healthy enough to send them home from Seattle with 0 points.