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Seattle Sounders vs. New England Revolution: Player ratings

Harrison Shipp can only be in the right place at the right time so many times.

This one got me. Maybe it was the beautiful weather, or having my entire family there, I don’t know. But watching another ugly home match where Seattle only seemed like a good team in spurts just hit me on the way home. I’m more frustrated than ever with this team and I’m losing faith they can figure it out. Sure, the 3-3 draw against the New England Revolution was a point, which is more than they earned the last two home matches, but boy was it discouraging. Suddenly, the defense leaks goals and the offense struggles with tactics and cohesion. The Sounders created enough chances to win, and also allowed enough to lose. I remember when that wasn’t the norm every match.


Goalkeeper

Stefan Frei – 5 | Community – 5.9

How do you rate a goalie who gives up three goals every match? Even when Seattle has struggled in the past, the Sounders almost always kept matches close by limiting opponents to very few goals. Not anymore, as the defense, including Frei, suddenly can’t stop anyone.

One thing I liked: NER had two great chances to put this match away and both times Frei made a necessary save. The first was in the 50th, after an innocuous run behind gave Gustavo Bou a free rip at the near post that Stef parried. The second was a 95th minute point blank shot that Diego Fagúndez somehow put into Frei’s chest.

One thing I didn’t like: Seattle must figure out how to play short, since they seem determined to do so. Every single match, a team presses high and forces chance after chance from turnovers in the Sounders’ defensive third. Frei plays a huge part, making a ton of unforced errors and decisions that put teammates in terrible spots. At this point it might be better to just kick it into the bench, or, you know, to the 6’4” right back.

Going forward: Seattle still isn’t going to win many games giving up three goals.

Defense

Nouhou – 7 | Community – 5.8 (off 59’ for Jones)

Nouhou did everything as well as last home match, without the one mental mistake that cost Seattle a goal. Once again, he completely locked down his side and turned in a great two tackle, two interception, two clearance, four recovery match. He also had a key pass that nearly scored.

One thing I liked: The youngest of the Seattle left backs is also the least attack-savvy, but his 57th minute effort was as good as any on the team. First, tracking back defensively, Nouhou dropped in on the back side and chested clean possession to Frei. When Stefan played to Nicolás Lodeiro wide, he found an overlapping Nouhou on the tracks with a full head of steam chugging up the sideline on a gut busting 80 yard jaunt. Not content to just make a strong run, the left back dropped a great cross onto the foot of Raúl Ruidíaz, who was unable to finish.

One thing I didn’t like: 68 percent passing from the back is pretty rough. His was the worst on the team and was indicative of Seattle’s struggle to get the ball up field versus the NE pressure.

Going forward: Nouhou did just about everything right and was subbed for a more offensive minded player with Seattle playing from a deficit. If he wants to stay in on those occasions, he will need to continue to make key passes with consistency.

Xavier Arreaga – 6 | Community – 5.1

Arreaga was okay in this match, playing decent defense for most of the match but also being victimized on a few occasions that, while not directly, led to good Revolution chances. He had multiple tackles, interceptions, clearances and a half dozen recoveries, but his positioning and cohesion in the back with teammates was very hit or miss, with a lot of miss.

One thing I liked: Always interested in getting forward, Xavier pushed the ball into available space in minute 31 before playing an impressive through ball to Ruidíaz with the outside of his right boot. The play didn’t amount to much, but that sort of line-splitting pass from the back is something Seattle needs more of.

One thing I didn’t like: Seattle doesn’t have a great record in matches that Arreaga plays. While it’s not all his fault, he does bear some of the blame. His positioning seems okay at first glance, but there are many times where he either isn’t in the right place, a teammate doesn’t understand where he’s going, or both.

Going forward: These guys in the back are too talented to be this bad. One thing Chad Marshall brought that is sorely missing is consistency of play. By this I don’t just mean consistently playing well, but also that he did predictable (and usually correct) things on the defensive end. Arreaga isn’t doing this, and it affects everyone around him.

Kim Kee-hee – 5 | Community – 4.9

No one misses Chad Marshall more than Kim, who has been shuttled around and paired with multiple partners since the legend retired. He has struggled immensely to develop chemistry with a revolving door of players around him. Against New England he was all over the place, with six recoveries but few other defensive actions to note.

One thing I liked: Kee-hee does a lot of good stuff on the soccer field and is a player who seems to learn each week. After being tentative to step to the ball on a goal scoring play in his last match, it was refreshing to see Kim aggressively attack the space left behind a wandering Saad Abdul-Salaam, trusting those behind him to do their jobs.

One thing I didn’t like: Kim got a yellow for arguing a foul in the 90th minute and then attempted to get another moments later with a horrific lunge. As a result, he will miss the RSL match. This is another example of the defense losing its composure without effective leadership.

Going forward: Kim hasn’t been good in a few months. He is consistently getting beat in the air way too much. He is still our best defender and should get a bit of leeway moving forward, but this defensive group has to find an identity and do it fast.

Saad Abdul-Salaam – 5 | Community – 4.9

Abdul-Salaam is playing a lot of games and is a very serviceable backup, but he’s being somewhat exposed as time goes on. Seattle definitely missed Kelvin Leerdam this weekend. Saad ended with a single defensive clearance, but was able to chip in three key passes on the offensive end.

One thing I liked: I appreciated the defensive aggression from SAS, who in the 61st minute tracked a player all the way across the field to the opposite sideline to win possession and turn the ball back into the attack. This sort of pressure led to Seattle’s resurgence.

One thing I didn’t like: Saad still isn’t pressuring crosses, and Seattle is getting burned. This time it was a 35th minute free look from Edgar Castillo who turned it into an assist that doubled the lead.

Going forward: Abdul-Salaam might be needed at center back on Wednesday, which is possibly his best position for Seattle. We may find out.

Defensive Midfield

Jordy Delem – 6 | Community – 5.3

Even with a silly late call, Delem was strong in this match. For most of the match he did well defensively, freeing up Cristian Roldan to push forward. This came by way of a game-high five tackles, to go with two interceptions and an excellent nine defensive recoveries.

One thing I liked: In the 2nd minute Jordy had the best pass I’ve ever seen him make. Starting with grabbing a loose ball in the midfield, he kept his head up and uncorked an absolutely fantastic through ball over the top to Jordan Morris, which completely unbalanced the defense and led directly to the opening goal.

One thing I didn’t like: Delem was slow to rotate defensively on a few occasions, and his passing from the back other than the above (and an 84th minute similar ball) was just okay. He has to improve on marking direct runners, with both Jordy and Cristian missing Carles Gil way too many times.

Going forward: It’s a shame he got called for that hand ball, as the defensive play to get into that position was strong. Jordy doesn’t do much flashy but you know what you’ll get from him. In this match that wasn’t enough.

Cristian Roldan – 7 | Community – 6.2

Cristian did a little bit of everything against New England: 10 combined defensive actions, 82 percent completion rate on attacking, vertical passing, which translated to two key passes, and continually getting into attacking spaces to support the front line.

One thing I liked: Once again it was Roldan who continually searched out the dangerous vertical runs of Morris, and once again it was very effective for Seattle. Every time they connected to stretch the field, good stuff happened, including the third Sounders goal.

One thing I didn’t like: With the left side pushing forward to make offense, Roldan was sucked into a left back position in the 35th minute and as soon as he was out of the middle, New England scored.

Going forward: The defensive midfield is struggling to shield the back four, and it’s a combination of poor play and a need to support a front line that needs help and has to play from behind so much. Because of this, Roldan is being asked to make herculean efforts as a two-way player. I’m not sure whether that’s a great idea.

Attacking Midfield

Jordan Morris – 8 | Community – 7.1 (off 85’ for Alex Roldan)

Morris continues to play incredibly well, showcasing his speed and power to shred opponents’ defenses. He ended this match with 82 percent passing, two assists on three key passes, a shot, and a half dozen defensive actions as well. Then he got subbed off.

One thing I liked: No one can stop Jordan right now, and when he gets the ball on his feet, he’s a beast going at goal. In the 2nd minute he showed his ability to beat a man 1-v-1 and hand a layup to a teammate, and other direct runs forward in the 64th and 66th created two more goals.

One thing I didn’t like: In the 35th minute Jordan’s communication was bad, and he tried to dummy a ball through to a teammate. New England immediately capitalized, victimizing the hole on the left that was vacated by Morris and an overlapping Nouhou, thereby pulling Roldan out of the middle. Then they switched fields and found an open header for the lead.

Going forward: Morris is a player that opposing coaches have to game plan for. His skillset can completely tip the field in the Sounders’ favor, and the Seattle staff needs to lean into that as much as possible. Jordan looks to be a dominant force for the near future.

Nicolás Lodeiro – 8 | Community – 6.8

Lodeiro did a ton in this match. Starting with 111 touches, he was, as usual, drifting around finding pockets of space to attack the defense. His stat line was excellent with an impressive seven shots, four key passes, and a goal while still managing to complete 80 percent of his passes and have eight defensive recoveries.

One thing I liked: Nico is always there. When Seattle was scoring their first, he was a pass option. When Seattle was scoring their second, he was the guy who put Jones into space to make the pass. Lodeiro scored the third, as usual teleporting into the attack in support of a great Morris run and putting a hard shot on frame.

One thing I didn’t like: I dislike delaying the game by blocking free kicks, but if you are going to do it tactically, you have to do a better job than Nico did in the 27th minute, allowing a quick set piece for the Revs who turned the ensuing corner into an equalizing goal. Also, he should have passed to Ruidíaz in the 34th for an easy goal seconds prior to New England taking the lead, making for a rough 10 minutes.

Going forward: With the dynamic movement of Ruidíaz and Morris in front of him, Nico had a field day, continually forcing the Seattle offense forward into dangerous areas. If some of his shots were better placed, he could have a bunch more goals, as he is getting into great spots offensively.

Harry Shipp – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 7.3 (MOTM) (off 72’ for Bwana)

At some point you have to stop looking at Shipp’s lack of straight-line speed and just appreciate how much right he does on the field, which against the Revolution involved scoring twice and playing brilliantly on the wing. Harry is almost always in the right spot (like Marshall was) and it’s led to five goals, two assists so far this season. Against the Revolution he started the game with a clean finish on the back post in minute two and did similarly in the 65th. His linkup play was stellar and he added a couple key passes for good measure.

One thing I liked: Once again, Harry got into great spots by reading the game and this match, he was able to finish. His nose for the goal is tremendous, and it was great to see him score cleanly on both chances he had to change the score line.

One thing I didn’t like: Maybe Shipp was tired, but Seattle didn’t seem like they were struggling and pulling out Harry looked like a big mistake. In the five minutes prior to the sub, Seattle enjoyed a 70-30 possession advantage. After removing him they had a 20-80 deficit, followed by a 35-65 deficit.

Going forward: Not many backups in this league give you as much as Shipp does. Look for Harry to keep playing at this level; nothing he does is particularly hard to replicate, as long as you have the soccer brain to get there.

Forward

Raúl Ruidíaz – 7 | Community – 6.1

Ruidíaz returned from his concussion and was left shaking his head after nearly scoring about 64 goals. He managed seven shots, all from within the box, but was unable to put any of them in. A defender toe, a bad bounce off the turf, or the woodwork was just enough to stop him from having multiple goals and putting the game away.

One thing I liked: Raúl makes everything easier for those around him. His runs and movement repeatedly pulled all three center backs around, allowing others to score tap-ins.

One thing I didn’t like: Man, Ruidíaz was so close on so many tries. If any of his near-goals become real goals, Seattle likely wins.

Going forward: Ruidíaz is constantly getting huge chances and it’s just a matter of time before he breaks out with a hattrick game or goes on a run of bunches. He needs to break the seal on the goal.

Substitutes

Joevin Jones – 7 | Community – 6.2 (on 59’ for Nouhou)

We finally got to see Jones return to left back where he was so outstanding a few years ago, and he had almost instant impact, getting an assist as Seattle charged back into the lead.

One thing I liked: Jones had three key passes in 30 minutes as a left back, which is about a billion percent more effective than he has been at left wing so far this year. There is no mistaking that smooth offensive glide that Joevin has, and his nifty footwork in the area on multiple occasions set up teammates at the top of the box for decent long chances.

One thing I didn’t like: Defensively Jones still looked shaky, even as Seattle pushed huge numbers forward. I am wary of him playing a full match at the back. Offensively, he had the assist on an early touch then was fairly content to pass backwards.

Going forward: Jones may not be a better defender than Nouhou, or stronger offensive player than Brad Smith, but the combination he showed briefly chasing the match against New England was a reminder that there’s something there worth utilizing that bridges the gap between those guys.

Handwalla Bwana – 5 | Community – 5.6 (on 72’ for Shipp)

This was almost the exact same time Bwana was subbed last match, and the contrast in effectiveness was stark. Handwalla had a number of attacks on the dribble, but was part of a substitution that changed the Sounders team shape for the worse.

One thing I liked: In the 91st it was Bwana who found Ruidíaz open in the box in what could have been a game-winning play had Raúl been able to find the net through a crowd.

One thing I didn’t like: In the 77th minute Handwalla lost possession in the midfield and then compounded this with a bad foul to give a resurgent New England side some hope. It was also his lost possession in the 95th that nearly cost Seattle the point they ended up with.

Going forward: This sub didn’t make a lot of sense other than as a reward for good play last match, and the tactical change didn’t help Seattle. Bwana had one quarter of the entire game’s unsuccessful dribbles in his short stint, and he desperately needs to find a plan B for when his moves aren’t working.

Alex Roldan – 4 | Community – 4.3 (on 85’ for Morris)

Morris had played 84 minutes but apparently couldn’t go six more. Subbing on Roldan deprived Seattle of one of their best two-way players on the evening and it showed. Alex managed a “shot,” 75 percent passing, and a clearance on a corner kick. I didn’t understand the subs, and this one was another head scratcher.

One thing I liked: There wasn’t much to like.

One thing I didn’t like: Given an open look in the 85th minute, Alex expertly placed it near the ECS drummer. After being sent wide open over the top in the 91st minute, Roldan misplayed the ball.

Going forward: It’s hard to blame the younger Roldan for the expectations fans and coaches alike seem to place on his abilities.

Referee

David Gantar – 4 | Community – 3.4

I’m so sick of trying to rate referees in this league. Anyone know what “MLS Average” is anymore? I sure don’t. I do know that once again a referee let a ton go early, both teams got annoyed, and VAR remains a disaster.

One thing I liked: In concept, “advantage” is a great idea. In practice, if you allow a team to commit an extra seven fouls because you called “advantage,” it’s not really much of an advantage now is it? Yup, that happened.

One thing I didn’t like: VAR is all I write about anymore and it sucks. The first NER goal was called back for a foul which I thought was a good call — SAS was picked by Jalil Anibaba “buttchecking” him, which affected the play and the Revolution scored. How can you then go and VAR that and call off your own foul as a clear and obvious error? (I know how, you decide that the guy who you just warned prior to that corner kick to stop doing that did in fact foul someone but since a different guy scored you used VAR to somehow justify that it didn’t matter. But that’s just ridiculous). If you are so sure of a foul that you call it, why are you checking? And if that is the way you are going to ref, why don’t you then check the clear ball to hand inadvertent within the silhouette natural position not attempting to gain advantage handball PK you call on Delem later in the match, or the clear foul on Ruidíaz minutes later? For some reason, judgement calls matter only sometimes, and that is really frustrating. Thanks, Salazar.

Going forward: I know it’s not a conspiracy, but how many penalties are going to be called on us? Seattle has somehow only earned three penalties all year (third least in MLS) while being fouled 322 times (third most, having played one and two games less than those higher). Oh, and we have committed the third least fouls in the league too. It doesn’t add up, it’s really frustrating, and it just seems referees are super anxious to call borderline stuff against this team; even when they don’t, VAR rushes in to do so.

New England Revolution MOTM

Newcomer Gustavo Bou scored a great go-ahead headed goal and had another big chance that Frei parried. Oh, and he played the initial ball into the box on scramble-goal. Great.


Midweek game against a team with an interim coach. Maybe it’s a “trap game” where Seattle wins going away. Worked in Houston.

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