Seattle went to Colorado with four starters and played like it. The final score was 2-0, but there was rarely a point in the game when you thought the Sounders had a chance to win, and they never threatened the opponent’s goal with anything approaching dangerous play. Both of these teams looked like their rosters — non-playoff caliber groups. Even though Seattle had most of the possession, they did little with it, and Colorado smartly picked their chances to come forward. There were few positives to take from this match, although with such a rotated and compromised lineup, it’s also hard to pin many negatives.
Stefan Frei – 7 (MOTM) | Community – 7.0 (MOTM)
If you had Frei as MOTM going into this one, congrats. Frei had an up and down match against Colorado, but without him this score line is four or more to zero. He made some very good saves and provided some last-ditch defense that prevented a complete blowout. While his highs were better than his lows, there is much for Frei to learn at tape study.
One thing I liked: In the 34th minute Frei had a great save that (momentarily) kept Seattle in the match. It was one of the only reasons the Sounders looked poised to escape to halftime and adjust some terrible positioning. After Colorado scored two, he had another, much more impressive 86th minute save to his left, magically keeping a near-post shot out, but that only kept the score a little closer.
One thing I didn’t like: Frei didn’t look very good on a number of occasions. A 20th minute corner kick saw him once again get stranded in no man’s land, he was beat near-post right before half, and he started out the second half by handing Colorado a ball on the 18 and was lucky it didn’t end up behind him.
Going forward: It’d be nice if the keeper’s great saves are the kind with shutouts as we score multiple goals, instead of merely a speck of positivity in a match where we got throttled.
Saad Abdul-Salaam – 5 | Community – 4.5
If you had SAS as fourth string left back depth, congrats. It wasn’t a shining night for him, although he was okay if you adjust for the position. He ended up with one of the few Sounders’ key passes, along with 79 percent passing, but had few defensive plays of note. Saad had very aggressive positioning high up the field for most of this match.
One thing I liked: In the second half Abdul-Salaam got forward a number of times into great areas and was found by Nicolás Lodeiro. His instincts on the overlap were intelligent.
One thing I didn’t like: Starting with a weak 27th minute header toward his own goal that Colorado stole and nearly scored on, SAS struggled to defend with any vigor, and was beat time and again as he was caught too high and flat footed while Seattle lost central possession.
Going forward: Saad clearly isn’t an outside left back and in hindsight it seemed crazy to combine him out there with Jonathan Campbell and Handwalla Bwana and tell him to attack. It didn’t work at all.
Jonathan Campbell – 6 | Community – 4.5
If you had Campbell as your Seattle Sounder who would get the second-most touches in the match, congrats. Of his 83, 76 came from within his own half, as Jonathan played defense and got rid of the ball pretty cleanly.
One thing I liked: Campbell isn’t flashy, but he gets the job done most of the time. He had eight clearances and four recoveries and limited his errors throughout this match. Being consistent allows others around you to do their job better, and he was consistent.
One thing I didn’t like: When defending breakaways, Campbell is a disaster. In the 23rd minute he badly ran over Kim, coming across to “help.” On their second scoring build up, Campbell again tunnel-visioned onto a single player, allowing other options to easily score.
Going forward: Campbell was okay in this match, but if you are looking for more than that, you might wait a while.
Kim Kee-hee – 6 | Community – 5.2
If you had Kim as being tied on aerials won with Bwana, congrats. He did have 11 combined defensive actions in a very busy night, however, and had a respectable 83 percent passing clip.
One thing I liked: On multiple occasions Kim followed Andre Shinyashiki across the field and defended him well 1-v-1.
One thing I didn’t like: Kee-hee beat a guy going forward in the 54th minute and opened up the field for Seattle to attack. He then lost possession badly and Colorado should have scored going the other way with Kim way out of position and his teammates watching.
Going forward: The midfield was such a sieve it’s hard to blame these center backs too much for the goals against.
Kelvin Leerdam – 5 | Community – 5.1
If you had Leerdam playing at his customary right back spot, but carrying whatever anchor they gave Joevin Jones lately, congrats. Leerdam played very cautiously on the right wing, which led to a sparkling 97 percent passing rate, only failing to complete a single attempt.
One thing I liked: Leerdam had a 33rd minute save off the line, which momentarily kept the score tied. This was one of three clearances within the box.
One thing I didn’t like: Harry Shipp smartly moved inside to help the struggling middle which should have encouraged Leerdam to fill the giant gap on the right wing. He never did that, completing a single pass forward in the Colorado half of the field in the 95th minute.
Going forward: I don’t understand the idea of starting SAS out of position but then asking him to attack while keeping Leerdam tethered to his own goal. Maybe they wanted to conserve energy?
Emanuel Cecchini – 5 | Community – 4.8 (off 84’ for Roldan)
If you had Cecchini and Nico Lodeiro as your starting defensive midfielders, congrats. This was clearly a work in progress, as they never really clicked and left massive gaps as both roamed looking for the ball. I was surprised to see 90 percent passing from Emanuel, who only had five failed attempts all match.
One thing I liked: This guy is willing to get into the attack, and not scared to shoot (with an attempt four minutes in) when he gets there. For a long time, we have wanted more from that position and if you are looking for a silver lining, his willingness to overload the attack may eventually be a positive.
One thing I didn’t like: His positioning was an absolute mess, starting in the 1st minute when he lost the ball trying to dribble from the back. He struggled to get to places defensively, often caught forward or unable to support first Lodeiro and then Danny Leyva. Cecchini only had two defensive actions in the entire second half.
Going forward: Having a defensive midfielder who plays like a 10 only works when the defense behind him is good.
Nicolas Lodeiro – 6 | Community – 5.7
If you had Lodeiro with exactly one non-corner kick pass completed into the area, congrats. This was a mess from Seattle and Nico, who still did a lot of good things but truly struggled with the lack of talent around him. On the plus side he led the game with 103 touches and had two key passes attempting to help the offense move forward. In the first half he was lost in the shuffle, failing to connect on any deep-lying playmaking attempts, but after intermission he pushed much more vertically.
One thing I liked: Seattle had a number of times to get in behind, and Nico eventually found SAS into the box on a few occasions that deserved better chances created from them. He continued to look for intelligent movement from teammates.
One thing I didn’t like: This outing seemed forced at times from Nico, and in the 14th and 29th he ignored open passes wide to instead try to force-feed lengthy through balls to Justin Dhillon. Neither worked.
Going forward: Nico trying to do it all ends up with him dribbling into traffic and losing it. He (and the team) need to create better and smarter options.
Handwalla Bwana – 4 | Community – 3.9 (off 46’ for Leyva)
If you had Bwana both starting and getting subbed out at half, congrats. He did very little against Colorado and was justifiably pulled after an ineffective 45 minutes. Handwalla had minimal impact offensively and zero defensively, but was more a non-factor than a negative one.
One thing I liked: There were a number of chances for Nico to find Bwana on runs in the first half that he instead forced inside. On each occasion Handwalla was very wide to open up space and presented a nice option for an easy pass.
One thing I didn’t like: Bwana attempted four passes into or toward the box and none were completed. A number of open chances to attack resulted in dribbling into pressure and losing possession. He completed a miserable 57 percent of his passes.
Going forward: With the left side looking to be more attacking, it was confusing to see them lost for much of this match. Bwana is a late sub option, at best, based on his current form.
Luis Silva – 5 | Community – 4.1
If you had Silva as your starting 10, congrats. I don’t know how much experience he had prior to this match playing there, but the comparison to how Lodeiro plays it for Seattle is stark. One guy touches the ball over a hundred times, weaves in and out making stuff happen; the other touched the ball 28 total times in the entire match, including only five in the second half.
One thing I liked: The few times Seattle found Silva in the middle he did well, especially his 24th minute holdup style play. After receiving a tough Leerdam pass, Silva spun to the open space and found Lodeiro pushing forward, creating a nice attacking chance.
One thing I didn’t like: After a key pass in the 4th minute, Silva barely touched the ball. He moved around some, but a central attacking mid has to do so much more for Seattle to be effective. He didn’t complete a single pass forward!
Going forward: I am not asking anyone to be Nico, but guys like Cecchini and Harry Shipp (and Nico!) were all on the field at the start of the match and could have played this spot much better. I think Silva has a nose for the ball in the box, but asking him to be the one to get it there doesn’t seem like a realistic expectation.
Harry Shipp – 5 | Community – 4.6
If you had Shipp as having the best and worst individual plays of the game, congrats. He had 52 touches and 88 percent passing, but it was his mistakes that stood out. On multiple occasions his connection with a brand-new defensive midfield pairing was off, and this led to a number of quality chances for Colorado. Even struggling, I was impressed with Shipp’s tactical awareness to shift inside and help a lost Silva, supporting a sagging midfield band.
One thing I liked: Shipp’s 7th minute through ball was absolutely fantastic. Starting from five yards within the opponent’s half, Harry curled a beautiful pass into the run of Dhillon, and Seattle should have taken the early lead from that combination.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 70th minute Shipp came back to receive the ball in the middle and was immediately collapsed on by multiple defenders. With both outside backs high and flat footed and both defensive mids also high, when Harry lost the ball it quickly became a 3-v-2 going the other way and the Seattle center backs were unable to prevent Colorado from scoring their second.
Going forward: Harry Shipp is a smart, solid soccer player who needs dynamic movement from others that he can read and facilitate. We have seen all year how effective he can be in this role. When asked to do more, he struggles, and in this one he made a few big errors.
Justin Dhillon – 6 | Community – 4.2 (off 58’ for Hopeau)
If you had Dhillon with the only Sounders shot on goal in the first 95 minutes, congrats. Although the offense was anemic, Justin did some good things up front with very little support. His runs and ideas made a lot of sense, but at times speed or teammates let him down. He had a single shot and 70 percent completion on only 18 touches.
One thing I liked: Justin worked hard, consistently showing for the ball and making diagonals to the corner. I was impressed as well with his defensive work, not just chasing the ball down into his own half as he did on occasion, but attempts to split the Colorado attack into half of the field, making it more predictable.
One thing I didn’t like: Dhillon makes smart runs, and if he was a little faster or more athletic, he would likely be a star. His 7th minute run onto Shipp’s ball was a tidy angle, but he wasn’t fast enough or skilled enough to get more than a contested shot that at least forced a save.
Going forward: Seeing Shipp to Dhillon brought a bit of a wry smile, as both play smart but physically are a few tools behind their brains at times. I like Justin’s effort, and see him as a solid backup who is very cheap.
Danny Leyva – 6 | Community – 4.9 (on 46’ for Bwana)
If you had “bench Leyva so Bwana and Silva could start and also push Nico back to defensive mid,” congrats. Leyva came into the match in the second half and helped the middle, getting 40 touches and completing a lovely 91 percent. He linked up well with teammates, and had three tackles and four recoveries in a busy 45 minutes.
One thing I liked: Leyva made a big difference in the second half, although the score didn’t show it. His composure and positioning allowed Seattle to push Lodeiro up to get on the ball in more advanced areas, and this was the best they could hope for.
One thing I didn’t like: Leyva didn’t fix everything, and although he played slightly lower than Cecchini, neither was a big defensive presence protecting the back line, which was badly needed. Danny missed two huge tackles, both times resulting in Colorado attacks.
Going forward: Leyva is a clear MLS-caliber midfielder at this point and his performance in this match showed that. In the future, he should get all the minutes in games like these, instead of playing multiple people out of position.
Shandon Hopeau – 5 | Community – 4.4 (on 58’ for Dhillon)
If you had Hopeau making his MLS debut in this one, congrats. He came into the match early in the second half and hustled around the field, offering a change of pace on the right side. He completed a solid 85 percent of his passes, although none were particularly dangerous or attack minded.
One thing I liked: Shandon earned a valuable 84th minute free kick the one time he ventured to the other side of the field, setting up Seattle to at least try to come back a little.
One thing I didn’t like: I didn’t even realize Hopeau had subbed in until his first attacking touch, which wasn’t until the 74th minute. It was his third of only 18 times he would see the ball in his entire outing, showing a passivity that maybe was to be expected.
Going forward: Hopeau didn’t do anything amazing, but he didn’t look out of place either, which is pretty neat for a guy in his first appearance. I would have loved to see him get the ball in space a few times, but that seems about six months ahead of schedule.
Alex Roldan – 5 | Community – 4.0 (on 84’ for Cecchini)
If you had Alex Roldan inexplicably getting time in this match, congrats. His five touches weren’t about to bring Seattle back from a two goal deficit.
One thing I liked:
One thing I didn’t like: Chasing a game late, we played Roldan, who failed to complete a single pass towards the opponent’s goal, record a defensive action, or do much more than just exist.
Going forward: Apparently when the sub options late in a game we’d shown no ability to compete in are a Tacoma player looking for his first MLS minutes ever, or Alex Roldan, the answer is Alex Roldan. I’ll take “questions I never thought I’d have to ask” for $1,000 please, Mr. Trebek.
Kevin Stott – 7 | Community – 5.7
If you had Stott as the fourth referee in a row to earn a 7 rating or better, congrats. Stott did a good job with a match that never got out of second gear. Although neither team played with much intensity, it was Colorado who looked more aggressive. The fouls backed this up, as the Rapids were called for nearly three times as many fouls as Seattle (11-4). A single yellow card was shown, and he didn’t need to look at much of anything in this match, which led to a very quick, efficient game.
One thing I liked: Presented with two lousy teams, Stott just let them play, often allowing a bit more contact than I liked, but still being fair and calling fouls if there was egregious advantage being gained.
One thing I didn’t like: There was one time where he didn’t call a foul, in minute 42, and on this play, Silva was pulled down in the buildup to a promising attack. He allowed advantage, but should have called the foul when the ball went harmlessly out of bounds and issued a card for preventing Silva from aiding the play.
Going forward: This was another (knock on wood) good referee performance at a Sounders game. Much of this was likely due to how pitiful the team with most of the ball was on offense, as Stott can struggle with a more competitive match.
Colorado Rapids MOTM
If you had Andre Shinyashiki as your Man of the Match due to his two well-taken goals, but remain skeptical of anyone with dyed facial hair, congrats. They were nice goals, and he consistently pestered Seattle’s makeshift defense and midfield into mistakes, but that look is rough.
I’m told our internationals should be back for a game against a vulnerable NYRB team coming all the way across the country. Hopefully New York scouted this Colorado match exclusively.