Seattle is officially slumping on their extended road trip. This time they traveled to Dallas and got beat up in the first half before making a spirited comeback. The Sounders’ 2-1 loss was that rare occasion when all three goals were scored by the same team, with two own goals in opposition and only a single tally put into the correct net. Early on, Seattle looked overmatched tactically, and more mental errors late in the half made the deficit bigger than it should have been. Good adjustments in formation and personnel helped after intermission, but again the Sounders woke up too late.
Stefan Frei – 6 | Community – 6.1
This was a weird match where Frei had a single save on a single Dallas shot on frame and yet gave up two goals and lost. The defense wasn’t great and Dallas was threatening most of the evening, but Stefan only shut out one of the two teams shooting on him.
One thing I liked: A nice punch in the 83rd minute helped alleviate some pressure from FC Dallas. For the most part Frei was in control of his box and minimized big chances by everyone except his own defenders.
One thing I didn’t like: Watching Seattle force the ball out of the back against a press and fail multiple times was hard to watch. I appreciate the desire to keep possession but forcing the ball short to Delem in the 12th with a man on his back nearly started the own-goal-fest early and they didn’t seem to learn their lesson after that.
Going forward: Frei shouldn’t need to stop both opponents’ and teammates’ shots.
Brad Smith – 5 | Community – 4.6
For the second match in a row Smith really struggled, and again it was his defense that faltered. Matched up with Michael Barrios, the clear danger man for Dallas, Smith wasn’t great. He ended the match with three recoveries and three clearances in another defensive performance that was subpar and included an own goal.
One thing I liked: Smith looked better in the second half when he was protected by the familiar Cristian Roldan and allowed to move up the wing a little higher.
One thing I didn’t like: This was another match where Smith was exposed defensively. Compounding his struggles were a number of bad passes from the back that were easily stolen and used to create Dallas chances. His cohesiveness with Xavier Arreaga in particular was dismal.
Going forward: I don’t know what to think about Smith. He’s clearly better than he’s been in these last two matches, but he seems very dependent on strong pieces around him to be effective. He may still be the best option at left back, but the competition is heating up.
Xavier Arreaga – 5 | Community – 4.7
Arreaga’s first start was quite the mixed bag of soccer. He did a lot of good defensive things, like three tackles, two interceptions, three clearances, as well as some good offensive things (two shots, 91 percent passing) but ultimately, he will be remembered for his first goal as a Sounder, a well-placed diving header into the back of Stefan Frei’s net.
One thing I liked: Xavier is a strong passer and tackler, and I like that when his partner center back is pulled out, he covers the near six perfectly. This enabled him to have a number of easy clearances that would otherwise have been great Dallas chances.
One thing I didn’t like: Arreaga clearly needs more time with teammates to get used to this system. He constantly passed the ball to spaces where teammates were not. In his defense, many of them were to where teammates should have moved to, but he has to be cleaner with the ball. A 68th minute pass across the middle of his own penalty area and directly to Barrios was unconscionable.
Going forward: I’ve seen Xavier get roasted a bit for this performance, but let’s remember he’s 24 and it was his first start in MLS. There were definitely enough good moments to remain high on this guy as a defensive solution for a long time.
Román Torres – 6 | Community – 6.0
While Torres and Arreaga weren’t the prettiest pair in the back, they did the job for the most part. Román was fairly steady defensively and led the Sounders with six clearances. He was rarely beat and recovered in the few instances when he was.
One thing I liked: Román did a pretty good job of limiting Dallas chances down his lane. He also showed great coverage to support on either side on a number of occasions, ranging wide to fill the gaps as Seattle sent numbers forward.
One thing I didn’t like: Much of Torres’ passing was desperation clearances and he didn’t find teammates as often as I would have liked. Seattle needed to be cleaner out of the back to have any hope of getting into the attack.
Going forward: I don’t know that Román is an amazing defender but he has been decent the last few matches. Building rapport with Arreaga is going to be essential for all defenders across the back.
Kelvin Leerdam – 6 | Community – 5.5
After a very busy previous match, this one was quieter for Leerdam. His passing wasn’t great (77 percent), but he played generally solid defense and attempted to link up with the revolving door of teammates who surrounded him.
One thing I liked: Kelvin played right mid for a while in this match (I think) and in the 61st hit an absolutely beautiful over-the-top pass to Will Bruin that was a better trap away from being an assist.
One thing I didn’t like: Kelvin and A-Rold had massive trouble containing Barrios down the wing, and it was a pointless Leerdam foul in the 38th that led to the second own goal.
Going forward: Playing these outside backs up and down the wing is part of the Sounders’ tactics, but at some point, I would love for the team to focus on defensive cohesion as a baseline and then start charging everyone forward to add options.
Jordy Delem – 5 | Community – 5.1
The Delem/Svensson pairing in the defensive midfield was a mess. These two struggled immensely to cover the defensive holes in front of the fullbacks in addition to failing to coherently link up in the middle.
One thing I liked: Delem gave it his all, constantly roaming from side to side to try to help the giant spaces that were created in the Seattle defense. In central areas Jordy was excellent in connecting with teammates and keeping possession.
One thing I didn’t like: Delem completed 86 percent of his passes but his turnovers were all in dangerous positions. Multiple great Dallas chances were directly attributable to Jordy losing possession in the midfield.
Going forward: Delem has to be better controlling the ball and space defensively, and he has to develop some rapport with Svensson to continue to get playing time now that Goose is back to healthy.
Gustav Svensson – 5 | Community – 5.3 (off 46’ for Bruin)
Svensson had a hard time against Dallas, committing some uncharacteristic turnovers and not meshing well with Delem at all. Svensson didn’t have a ton of defensive actions, limited to only a single tackle, interception, clearance, and two recoveries.
One thing I liked: In the 23rd minute we were reminded how much he can bring to the middle, as an excellent defensive recovery was immediately turned into one of the few offensive possessions for Seattle in the first half.
One thing I didn’t like: Goose wasn’t up to the speed of the match, and he had a number of very bad, almost lazy, passes. When he did showcase a nice switching pass, there was no coinciding run from the right side.
Going forward: Svensson is a very good player, and in the future I fully expect him to show much better than he did against Dallas.
Harry Shipp – 6 | Community – 5.1 (off 56’ for Bwana)
This was another typical Shipp match where unless you were paying attention, it’s likely you didn’t notice him much. He quietly did his job well, and he led the team with two key passes before subbing off with a knock early in the second half.
One thing I liked: Harry is consistently setting up others for shots and he added some nice set piece service in Lodeiro’s absence. A 51st minute pass to Leerdam was a beauty.
One thing I didn’t like: Shipp didn’t get many chances to make a huge difference in the match, but in the 25th he had an opportunity to hit Raúl in a great spot to open the scoring and put Seattle on the front foot. He has to make that pass.
Going forward: As one of the few creative players that won’t be gone on international duty, it’s vital that his injury sub was only precautionary. I hope this was a minor knock that won’t keep him out of the upcoming midweek match.
Cristian Roldan – 6 | Community – 5.2
For the first half the elder Roldan was MIA. He had a ridiculously low 20 touches and five completed passes before the break and was a non-factor in the match as a supposed playmaker. When moved back to defensive midfielder in the second half, Cristian came alive, amassing 57 touches and completing 47 passes.
One thing I liked: As soon as Roldan was where he belongs, he was able to dominate the match both offensively and defensively. He was everywhere, from a 58th minute perfect shoulder tackle in the box to linking up with teammates in the buildup as Seattle came roaring back.
One thing I didn’t like: Cristian ran himself out of any chance to link up with Raúl Ruidíaz in the first half, roaming around and frequently getting lost. Expecting him to be a “creative 10” instead of a “destroyer 10” was a mistake.
Going forward: This team relies so much on Lodeiro’s ability to get them out of possession deficits. This match showed that trying to force anyone else to play that role as currently set up, even someone as talented as Cristian, is a mistake. Cristian can and should dominate games from a deeper position.
Alex Roldan – 6 | Community – 4.2 (off 77’ for Jones)
Alex Roldan was quietly effective for long stretches of the match but failed to add much more creatively than just average play. He had a very tidy 93 percent passing rate and an excellent five tackles and three aerials from his wide midfield position.
One thing I liked: Roldan brings some defense to his outside mid play and in the second half he continually shaded over to the middle to support. This paid off nicely in the 64th as a lurking Alex stole a loose pass in the center and helped convert it forward into a goal in the correct net.
One thing I didn’t like: Alex was directly responsible for both times Dallas got in behind to cross and create what turned out to be own goals. On the first, he dove in and missed on Barrios and on the second he was caught flat-footed as the ball was put in behind him.
Going forward: A-Rold is likely to get more playing time soon with others out, and he needs to limit those big mistakes while continuing to be a hard-working presence on the defensive side of the ball.
Raúl Ruidíaz – 7 (MOTM) | Community – 6.6 (MOTM)
In the first half Ruidiaz was completely cut off from his teammates, stuck on an island amid giant defenders and unable to get the ball near the goal. This changed after the break and he suddenly found Seattle in possession and getting the ball forward onto his feet with space to work. He ended with two shots, 84 percent passing, and the lone Seattle offensive goal.
One thing I liked: Raúl just keeps coming. Even cut off from the ball for the first half, Ruidiaz kept softening up the defense with movement and attacks. When he finally got a chance with the ball in the 65th, he cashed in some of that space and ripped a shot that was strong enough to get deflected but still go in the goal.
One thing I didn’t like: Seeing Raúl displaced from the rest of the team was painful to watch. Even after the break he was still coming back into his own defensive third to get the ball. This was a tactical and personnel disaster.
Going forward: Ruidiaz isn’t going to dribble three guys and score goals; he is an assassin who makes the decisive strike that only needs an inch to hit. Seattle must be set up to get him the ball in those spaces because he will deliver.
Will Bruin – 7 | Community – 6.0 (on 46’ for Svensson)
Bruin came in and was part of a tactical adjustment that helped Seattle gain possession. Removing the underperforming Svensson and replacing him with Roldan was huge. Replacing what Cristian was trying to do with Bruin also somehow worked out well. Will wasn’t amazing, but of his 20 touches he consistently put the ball into Ruidiaz with a number of them, which was exactly what Seattle needed. He won three aerials as well.
One thing I liked: Bruin isn’t a great hold up player who is going to possess the ball, and he didn’t try to be. Instead of trying the Nelson Valdez control and turn, Will smartly dinked and poked and back-heeled a nifty array of first-time flicks into the path of others. It worked excellently, and it mitigated needing better touch. I noted five such passes, including one which earned his assist.
One thing I didn’t like: Ruidiaz dropped back to pick up the ball on a few occasions while Bruin tried to make over the top runs. This felt like it should have been reversed. When Will did get the ball over the top he fumbled it away.
Going forward: If Seattle doesn’t have the creativity available to connect to Raúl, Bruin has just shown that adding him can be a great way to find Ruidíaz. I am still not sold on the Sounders using two forwards, but in this instance, Will was a difference maker.
Handwalla Bwana – 4 | Community – 4.8 (on 56’ for Shipp)
Bwana came on. He recorded a tackle and had 28 total touches during an uncomfortable shift.
One thing I liked: Handwalla had a number of good corner kick services, something that Seattle has struggled to be consistent with this season.
One thing I didn’t like: Bwana was by far the worst passer on the field, completing just 58 percent of his passes, and he just doesn’t look comfortable making decisions fast enough. Some of this was due to his terrible touch, including four crucial turnovers that killed attacks.
Going forward: At this time, I hope it’s fasting that is the reason behind his poor play. Bwana is struggling.
Joevin Jones – 5 | Community – 5.8 (on 77’ for A-Rold)
Jones came in and immediately played right back. Because of course he did. The ex-Sounder returned and got 15 touches in his 15 minutes and was an active, if not too effective, player in his short time.
One thing I liked: Joevin did have a nice shot on target and that is exactly what he brings — goal dangerous attack-minded play from wide positions. He followed it up with a great 93rd minute cross into a dangerous spot.
One thing I didn’t like: Jones had a hard time connecting with anyone, which is to be expected with a new team, but it was disappointing to see some chances missed.
Going forward: It was his first outing, but I was unimpressed with some of his effort. He has always tended to look somewhat indifferent, but I’ll be watching to see if he continues to jog back defensively like he did a few times here.
Baldomero Toledo – 6 | Community – 5.2
Toledo somehow has already reffed three matches for Seattle this year. I don’t know why we keep getting him, but this one was his best of the season for us. He wasn’t great, but the game didn’t get completely out of hand and devolve into a hack fest as many of his games have.
One thing I liked: Toledo did pretty well in using advantage throughout the match. In the 15th minute he attempted to give Roldan advantage and then brought the ball back when there was none. When Arreaga tackled Dominique Badji late, he correctly allowed a strong Dallas attacking chance to continue.
One thing I didn’t like: I thought Carlos Gruezo and Arreaga both got away with clear fouls that were ignored, and a Bryan Reynolds kick away in the 87th somehow didn’t get a yellow.
Going forward: At this rate we are going to have Toledo six times this year, which seems excessive. He did yellow card the Dallas bench on the end line, which I loved seeing.
FC Dallas MOTM
Really thought Owen Goal would have fared better in this one. But, no! It was danger man Michael Barrios, the creator of both Sounders own goals. He was a terror down both flanks throughout the match.
The only thing that will make me feel better about the last two matches and what I feel are accumulating missed points is to have a Frankenstein team go into Montreal on Wednesday and dominate.