Depending on your mood, you can get whatever you want out of last weekend’s LA Galaxy match. Glass half full kinda person? Hey! 2-2 on the road against a team you’re fighting with for playoff position. The expected goals show a dominant team who couldn’t catch a break finishing. A tad more skeptical of the team? Then you’re disappointed by the lack of urgency in a team playing up a man for nearly 90 minutes, one that had a golden opportunity to get three road points from a Western Conference rival and couldn’t. Had your fill? Then you’re probably calling for drastic management and personnel changes after the Sounders came out flat, got beat handily for five minutes, created a red card, then promptly failed to take advantage (in fact, looking the worse team for long stretches of the match). Seattle couldn’t find any urgency or desire early, once again allowed a single dominant performance to destroy them, and only eked out a tie due to an absurd Galaxy own goal.
Stefan Frei – 7 | Community – 5.8
Frei had two saves, the first a huge reaction save early to keep the score level. He also got strung out on the first Zlatan Ibrahimović goal, and a part of me wonders if he could have been more aggressive getting his defenders to push a higher line, as Zlatan isn’t a huge threat to get in behind.
One thing I liked: If Frei doesn’t stand on his head in the first five minutes, Seattle gets blown out. His save from point blank range saved the entire match and let the Sounders breathe long enough to force a huge error from LA, which may have been the only thing that kept this one close.
One thing I didn’t like: Frei is a leader on this team, and he needs to be more of a leader on the field. I have no idea what the coaches are saying, but just constantly yelling at Nouhou isn’t leadership, and veterans like Stefan need to figure it out.
Going forward: Seattle didn’t give up three goals and didn’t lose.
Nouhou – 6 | Community – 5.5 (off 69’ for Jones)
Nouhou defended well, and I think, had the game stayed 11-v-11, we’d have seen how strong his defense was. He ended with four recoveries, two clearances and an interception, and completed a tidy 93 percent of his passes.
One thing I liked: Nouhou did a great job putting Cristian Pavón in his pocket for most of this match. He also was one of the few Sounders who seemed to understand the urgency of the situation, repeatedly trying to push the ball into the attack, even making a number of decent crosses.
One thing I didn’t like: Nouhou was active, but when he got near the 18 his deficit in creation was readily apparent. He did so well to get into good positions before either being ignored by teammates or failing to make the crucial, decisive run forward.
Going forward: Nouhou played well, but as weird as it sounds, he’s not the kind of player who looks great while the team plays up a man.
Xavier Arreaga – 6 | Community – 5.1
As far as I could tell, Arreaga did his job well. He played the ball safely around the back and found teammates for a 90 percent completion rate while adding three aerials won and four clearances. In the second half he pushed quite high, contributing to some Seattle pressure.
One thing I liked: Xavier continues to get good chances off set pieces and is adding to the offense, which I love seeing. His line-splitting passes force Seattle to play much quicker, which is a good thing.
One thing I didn’t like: What if, now bear with me here, what if a team faces another team that has a single offensive weapon and is playing down a man, thus removing service to that one weapon except from speculative long balls …. What if the team up a man put their best aerial defender on that one guy? And then, if Kelvin Leerdam failed to match up, how about Arreaga getting a shot?
Going forward: Arreaga has the physical tools to deal with most players in this league but lacks the chemistry and cohesion necessary for Seattle to succeed with him back there. Whether it’s him or his teammates or both, something needs to change.
Kim Kee-hee – 4 | Community – 4.1
Kim hasn’t had a good month. I hoped sitting out a match would give him some good perspective on defensive positioning, except Seattle played a weird five-man backline in the last game which was impossible to get any information from. From a stats standpoint, Kim was fine, with five clearances, five recoveries, and even a key pass. It was his mistakes that unfortunately defined the scoreline.
One thing I liked: Other than a few (but unfortunately game-defining) plays, Kim was strong in passing (94 percent) while also pushing high and making good decisions in the attack.
One thing I didn’t like: I’ve mentioned before that Kim is a mess defending crosses, and against a player like Zlatan, it wasn’t a contest. His mistakes played a part in both goals. Especially with Seattle up a man, why was Kim constantly left on an island so LA could exploit his biggest weakness?
Going forward: Kim scored last year in Portland and I fully expect him to do so again.
Kelvin Leerdam – 6 | Community – 5.1
Leerdam looked pretty good in this match, but I was disappointed with a lack of aggression, especially in the first half. 93 percent passing is great, but up a man I would have liked to see this skilled player who’s scored a bunch of goals this year add more to the offense.
One thing I liked: Kelvin did enough to change the scoreline with solid defending and some passes that should have been assists. A 46th minute key pass should have seen Seattle go into half up a goal.
One thing I didn’t like: Between the 30th and 45th minute Leerdam didn’t touch the ball a single time. Can someone tell me why? He should have been pressing, forcing LA to defend, and yet he was …. absent.
Going forward: Leerdam needs to be better than just okay for Seattle to succeed.
Gustav Svensson – 7 | Community – 5.8 (off 74’ for Silva)
I’d be pissed too if I got subbed out after that performance: 93 percent passing, three key passes, three shots, five aerials won, and nine positive defensive actions. Svensson was very good, moving the ball around the midfield and playing both directions.
One thing I liked: Goose was one of the few Sounders eager to push the play and the team needed it. He had key passes in the 16th, 23rd, and 24th minutes, each from a vertical, probing pass that put players into position to attack the defense before it could set up.
One thing I didn’t like: Although he was strong in pushing the attack, this waned a bit in the second half, where his passes got shorter and safer to the width.
Going forward: Seattle needs Svensson’s steady play in the back, but something isn’t clicking, and the veteran Swede will need to help patch up the leaky defense.
Cristian Roldan – 6 | Community – 5.2
Remember when Seattle played a midweek game in a funky formation that required Roldan to run his ass off in circles for 90 minutes? I do. So of course, tired Cristian gets an astronomical 136 touches against LA. He did pretty good with them, completing 92 percent of his 118 attempts, but his attacking effectiveness faded as the match went on. He also didn’t close down Sebastian Lletget after a poor giveaway that led to the Galaxy’s essential first goal near halftime.
One thing I liked: Even tired, Roldan was still effective all over the field with three tackles, four clearances, and five midfield recoveries. His over the top pass to Jordan Morris in the 43rd minute was beautiful and deserved more.
One thing I didn’t like: Roldan faded in the second half. Even though he kept getting touches, his passing was like the box had kryptonite in it. He didn’t even attempt a pass in the general direction of the area. All he did was pass wide, over and over again.
Going forward: Roldan is one of, if not the most competitive Sounder, and he looked absolutely enraged at practice this week. If he can keep his emotions as fuel, look for a big game on Friday.
Jordan Morris – 7 | Community – 6.5 (MOTM)
Morris once again dominated this match when given an opportunity to do so. Although he only had 48 touches, he had two shots, a key pass, and continually gave LA fits with his pace in the open field. He even contributed two tackles for good measure. Somehow, he managed to play a full 90 and wasn’t subbed off for Alex Roldan.
One thing I liked: Both goals came directly from getting Morris in behind the defense. Here’s a thought, why don’t we tailor some tactics to take advantage of that?
One thing I didn’t like: In the second half he didn’t have a single completed pass toward goal. Huh?
Going forward: Morris is showing that the faith the team put in him in the offseason was well placed. He might be the best player on the team right now.
Nicolás Lodeiro – 7 (MOTM) | Community – 6.4
Likely as tired as Roldan, Lodeiro still almost managed to carry this team to a victory against LA. He absolutely lit up the defense with probing, dangerous passes. He had 117 touches and completed 80 percent as one of the few Sounders willing to pass in the direction of the big white rectangle.
One thing I liked: Nico had six key passes and two shots and created enough for Seattle to win. His sublime 44th minute slip pass to Ruidíaz put the striker 1-v-1 with David Bingham. This should have been Seattle’s second goal in two minutes to effectively end the match. His pass over the top to Morris forced the own goal late.
One thing I didn’t like: We have to figure out how to utilize the service from Nico. About 10 passes into the box from him went wanting.
Going forward: Later this week I’m anxious to see what Nico, with a little rest, can do against a central midfield that only has one guy who likes to defend.
Harry Shipp – 6 | Community – 5.3 (off 66’ for Bwana)
This was a very Shipp-like performance. While other teammates were getting hundreds of touches, he was a tidy 28/31 passing. He moved around to fill spaces, opened up runs for teammates, and put his stamp on the match with a clean assist.
One thing I liked: With Morris making a tremendous run forward in the 42nd minute, up popped Harry Shipp to retrieve a loose ball and calmly slot it into the path of Raúl Ruidíaz for a short-lived Seattle lead.
One thing I didn’t like: Shipp was unable to replicate his first half success and mostly ran around in the second half trying to create space for others.
Going forward: Harry is a glue guy for this team, but when the team struggles, he doesn’t show the ability to carry the team on his back, which frankly seems to be asking a lot.
Raúl Ruidíaz – 6 | Community – 5.9
This was an average-rated performance, but it could have been, should have been much, much more. Ruidíaz had a stellar five shots, two key passes, completed 94 percent when distributing and scored an important first goal. Yet somehow, this match was just okay.
One thing I liked: Ruidíaz’ willingness to run in behind and his sheer effort earned Seattle almost 90 minutes playing up a man. Too bad they didn’t do much with it.
One thing I didn’t like: Raúl should have put this game away multiple times in the first half and missed golden chances after halftime as well. He is a finisher, and the expectation is when he is 1-v-1 in the 44th minute he puts Seattle up 2-0 and they cruise.
Going forward: Remember him in the playoffs against Portland? I wanna see that Raúl this week.
Handwalla Bwana – 6 | Community – 5.2 (on 66’ for Shipp)
Asked to be a bit of an offensive spark, Bwana at least had some good ideas when he got the ball. He ended with two key passes and attempted to drive into dangerous areas and find teammates, without results.
One thing I liked: Bwana at least tried shit. He continually got the ball and glided into the box looking to set up teammates. There wasn’t the movement and targets you would have hoped for, but he did his job well.
One thing I didn’t like: With a man up and a team that averaged 89 percent cumulatively, Bwana struggled to 67 percent passing. Nearly all passes going forward, other than the two key passes, were incompletions.
Going forward: This is another match where Bwana came in and made some noise, but nothing much came of it.
Joevin Jones – 4 | Community – 3.9 (on 69’ for Nouhou)
Jones played against LA. While I thought maybe this was a good sub, getting a more offensive-minded player in against a team down a man, Jones quickly stifled that idea. He failed to defend well, and his offensive impact was nonexistent.
One thing I liked: He completed most of his passes to teammates.
One thing I didn’t like: While Jones got higher into the attack than Nouhou, he didn’t complete a single pass toward goal in the attacking third. He had three incompletions and sixteen back passes to go with two successful forward passes in the opponent half.
Going forward: I don’t know what he brings to this team, especially with Smith back in full training.
Luis Silva – 6 | Community – 5.4 (on 74’ for Svensson)
I was impressed with Silva, who has a nose for the goal. In short minutes he contributed with an outstanding three shots and an aerial won, combining with teammates and looking as goal dangerous as anyone else on the team.
One thing I liked: Silva nearly scored in the 93rd minute to give Seattle the win, finding a loose ball in the box and firing near post, only to see Bingham make a huge save.
One thing I didn’t like: Silva nearly scored in the 93rd minute to give Seattle the win, finding a loose ball in the box and firing near post, only to see Bingham make a huge save.
Going forward: Watching Luis at practice, the ball finds him in drills. His soccer IQ looks strong and I think he may have been a sneaky good last-minute signing.
Robert Sibiga – 8 | Community – 5.9
He called 17 total fouls, got the big calls right, and kept the game under control.
One thing I liked: He not only used VAR but used it correctly and quickly. That was refreshing to see. Sibiga also immediately gave a correct red card and would broach no discussion on its merits, which is unusual for MLS referees.
One thing I didn’t like: VAR was Kevin Stott. How can he be so strong this match and so terrible in others when he is on VAR? C’mon guys, get your shit together.
Going forward: I am going to rate people high for not missing every big call. This was that, and I have zero expectations that the upcoming derby match will be so well officiated.
LA Galaxy MOTM
Well, well, well. If it isn’t the tall man who scored a goal, then won and converted a penalty. Once LA went down a man, Ibrahimović was their game plan. And that game plan salvaged a point.
Portland likes to (1) counterattack and take advantage of 1-v-1 wins by a few key players and (2) pop off speculative long shots. Seattle needs to figure out how to prevent the first while forcing (and defending) the second.