Coming off a spirited victory last weekend, the Sounders hosted a Dallas team that had never had much success in Seattle and promptly allowed them to earn a point. Seattle had few good chances in a sleepy first half. While improving in the second, they still failed to convert any of their possession advantage into goals. On the plus side, they limited a decent Dallas team to a measly .35xG and kept the opponents to only two shots from inside the box on the way to Seattle’s first shutout since July. This defensive cohesion was definitely nice, but the cost was a restricted offense that never looked consistently dangerous. Seattle should have taken all three home points. Instead, they failed to build any meaningful distance above other teams jockeying for playoff seeding.
Stefan Frei – 7 | Community – 6.5
Frei was good against Dallas, although he only had three saves on three shots on goal. He gets credit for keeping his back-line alert and focused, and when necessary he came out to cleanly save any half-chance the opponents mustered, including venturing outside of his box to clear in support of his central defensive pair.
One thing I liked: Shutouts used to be a common occurrence, and it was nice to see another one at the end of this match. Sure, Dallas didn’t send numbers forward much, but it was nice to see a solid defensive effort to build off of.
One thing I didn’t like: With little height on the team and Seattle choosing not to play out of the back as much this match, Frei struggled to connect on anything upfield. All seven of his incomplete passes were toward or over the midline, and his 70% completion rate was based on 12 short completions.
Going forward: Seattle won’t lose if they keep shutting out their opponents.
Nouhou – 7 (MOTM) | Community – 5.8 (off 65’ for Rodríguez)
A big reason Seattle earned a shutout was Nouhou. He completely disrupted everything Dallas was trying to do offensively, and forced the away team to change tactics in the first 15 minutes. His 12 defensive actions were part of an absolute lockdown effort on the left side of the field.
One thing I liked: Paxton Pomykal, a supposed big USMNT talent, got so brutally abused and contained by Nouhou defensively that he was moved to the other side of the field. He didn’t return to the right side of Dallas’ offense until Joevin Jones was moved back. Not only did Nouhou dominate this matchup, in his time on the field he was the catalyst for most of Seattle’s best attacking moments.
One thing I didn’t like: I get starting Nouhou against Dallas, because he is your best bet to shut down Michael Barrios if he’s in his customary wide position. Instead, Luchi Gonzalez moved Barrios inside and abandoned the right wing, likely when he saw a losing matchup. This left Nouhou shackled with Jones on the left side with room to attack, and a tactical adjustment to take advantage offensively didn’t happen until a majority of the match was over.
Going forward: Nouhou did a lot of great things for the team and was rewarded with a sub in the 65th minute. Maybe he plays this weekend, who knows?
Xavier Arreaga – 6 | Community – 5.8 (off 86’ RC)
Perhaps clouded by the late red card, Arreaga had a very strong match against Dallas. He also had 12 defensive actions and was a big reason why Seattle earned a deserved shutout. Arreaga made excellent decisions going forward and for most of the game combined with Nouhou to lock down any chances from their side.
One thing I liked: Arreaga had 96% passing, failing to connect on only two attempts all match, including plenty of attacking balls into the Dallas half.
One thing I didn’t like: It’s hard to fault his decision making defensively in an otherwise tame match, but getting an 86th minute card was just so unfortunate and avoidable on a number of levels.
Going forward: His red card makes this weekend’s central defensive pairing another adventure.
Kim Kee-hee – 6 | Community – 5.9
Kim struggled a bit with the pace and physicality of Barrios, but still was a large part of a Seattle defensive effort that dominated the opponents and allowed very few quality looks.
One thing I liked: Kee-hee has great anticipation and comes across well to cover behind Arreaga or Kelvin Leerdam if the outside backs move high. He was excellent in supporting to prevent any runs in behind.
One thing I didn’t like: Physically, Kim got beat on a number of occasions. Somehow the diminutive Barrios held up the ball and released Dominique Badji in the 18th minute and on multiple other occasions Kim struggled to deal with the much smaller man. A routine high ball towards Barrios somehow ended with Kim being spun in the 86th minute, directly contributing to Arreaga’s red card.
Going forward: Kim hasn’t been as good lately, and has been exposed for his physical and aerial deficits instead of showcasing his many positive attributes such as anticipation and recovery speed. I would love to see a bounce-back performance this weekend on the road.
Kelvin Leerdam – 6 | Community – 5.7
Leerdam had another quiet evening from the right back spot, and has definitely been more cautious lately going forward. He ended up with strong defensive numbers, mainly matched up against Pomykal, and surprisingly had the most touches of the entire match. His 84% passing wasn’t goal dangerous, however, and nearly all his completions were back or square.
One thing I liked: Leerdam led the game with seven tackles, and clearly wasn’t scared to mix it up, with five of them being in the opponent’s half.
One thing I didn’t like: Once again Leerdam had plenty of opportunities to help offensively (including a 5th minute whiff on a nice cross) and just couldn’t find a way into the match. He failed to complete any of his six passes into or toward the box.
Going forward: Kelvin has cooled off after a great start to the season, but he is still playing pretty well. With more offensive pieces getting healthy, maybe he’ll start to pop back up in dangerous areas like he did early on.
Jordy Delem – 6 | Community – 5.5 (off 74’ for Morris)
Delem was strong against Dallas, playing overlapping defensive midfielder positions with Gustav Svensson and linking well in the back. Jordy had a massive six interceptions, continually getting into passing lanes and preventing the away team from building anything through the mid channels. A solid 84% passing rate was mostly wide, attempting to facilitate attacking through the wings.
One thing I liked: Jordy is playing with more confidence lately, attempting more aggressive passes and showing off some skills that we have never seen. On a number of occasions, he followed up play into the box, the best being a 15th minute give and go that threatened the goal.
One thing I didn’t like: Other than one or two runs that supported the front, Delem’s passing map makes a huge arc around the box and avoids it almost completely. With Dallas playing so passively, one of the defensive mids has to attack that position in zone 14.
Going forward: Having Jordy and Gustav both on the field was very defensive, and it showed in the lack of penetration into dangerous areas on offense. While they played well individually, the attack suffered because of this.
Gustav Svensson – 6 | Community – 6.5
Once again Svensson was very good, continuing to do his brand of “a little bit of everything.” He didn’t have a ton of defensive actions but did touch the ball plenty (86 touches) and had a fantastic 92% completion rate.
One thing I liked: In the 82nd minute, with Dallas on one of their only threatening attacks into the box, it was Svensson who popped up to clear. He read this play perfectly, realizing that Jones would likely be beat by Pomykal and supported defensively into the center of the box for a cross.
One thing I didn’t like: Svensson tried to switch the ball a few times diagonally but he doesn’t hit direct vertical balls enough. His 84th minute key pass came off of one of the very few times he tried this, a nice slip pass into the dangerous area on top of the box.
Going forward: As mentioned, the Jordy and Goose duo works defensively but doesn’t facilitate much offense.
Joevin Jones – 5 | Community – 5.0
Jones was a mess in this match, and it almost seemed by design, which is confusing. Every time he got forward, he put on the brakes and recycled the ball, refusing to look toward goal with any urgency. It wasn’t until he was moved back to left back that he suddenly got involved offensively and started to create from wide areas. His 90% passing was a complete mirage, as he failed to even look forward and missed so many attacking opportunities as to make a rater go insane.
One thing I liked: Jones at left back was a huge improvement from Jones at left wing. He was more aggressive offensively, nearly had an assist in the 75th minute by almost connecting with Morris, and earned three key passes after the switch.
One thing I didn’t like: As a wing Jones wasn’t positioned well to support the play, and it adversely affected those around him. Guys like Ruidíaz had no space to work with a left wide player who wasn’t involved in the attack and refused to find overlapping spaces. It got so bad Roldan had to wander over to support, yet tactical adjustments (such as inverting the wingers) never happened.
Going forward: People keep trying to sell us on the “left sided player” that Jones is. At this point, he seems a third choice left back and in no way a left winger.
Nicolás Lodeiro – 6 | Community – 6.3
This was an odd match for Lodeiro. A lot of his usual measurables were there: 88 touches, three key passes, two shots, even a wonderful 92% passing rate. Unfortunately, much of his passing came in wide areas far from goal, as he tried to drop near midfield to get the ball and support it forward toward Dallas’ compact defense. He was only credited with a single defensive action, with Seattle failing to press at all.
One thing I liked: Nico connected on a ton of passes, and should teammates have been a bit more aggressive or made better touches, he might have had more success. Many times, I thought Lodeiro had made the perfect “assist before the assist” only to see the play break down after his involvement.
One thing I didn’t like: Other than a 98th minute long ball over the top to Jordan Morris, Nico only had a single completed pass into the box out of nine tries. Seattle relies heavily on Lodeiro to unlock defenses, and his struggles with the organized bunker became the Sounders’ struggles.
Going forward: Nico will have to once again play three huge-effort midfield matches in a week, and once again, we have to hope he can be superhuman and dominate, this time on the road.
Cristian Roldan – 6 | Community – 6.1
Roldan played everywhere in this match, starting out wide right but supporting centrally and even on the opposite wing before eventually moving permanently back to defensive midfield. He offers so much defensively from wherever he is on the field, with 11 recoveries within his 16 defensive actions, and most of these before he moved back to defensive mid.
One thing I liked: In the 5th minute Cristian came all the way across the field to help a struggling left side. He was able to get a touch and put Jones into space for a cross, but what was really impressive was when Joevin did cross the ball it was Roldan, busting his ass, who nearly got on the end of the cross on the six, somehow nearly getting the hockey assist on his own goal.
One thing I didn’t like: Roldan had a solid 78% passing rate but zero key passes and failed to put either of his shots on frame. As a winger who tends to depend on others to create for him or use his endurance and smarts to take advantage of broken plays, Cristian created little.
Going forward: Roldan has shown he can get involved in the offense when starting wide, but nothing he is doing now particularly begs for him to start wide. I think he can have similar impact from his defensive midfield position, and I hope to see this soon.
Raúl Ruidíaz – 6 | Community – 5.9 (off 93’ for Shipp)
Raúl did everything he could with limited resources. He managed three shots and a key pass with only 28 total touches. He completed 100% of his passes while dropping deeper and deeper to try to get involved in the match with Seattle struggling to break through the midfield.
One thing I liked: In the 43rd minute Ruidíaz got a sliver of space and turned and shot, only to have the attempt blocked. This was a very nice turn in traffic and I think that sort of play will start earning him goals against any defenders who don’t immediately dive to block it (like Dallas did).
One thing I didn’t like: For the second straight game, the forward wasn’t involved in the match enough for my liking. It clearly opened up after Jones was removed, and it’s possible the issue was as simple as the spacing being terrible while Joevin wandered about on the left wing, but I want to see Ruidíaz being goal-dangerous every match.
Going forward: A lone forward can get caught on an island without the right tactical setup around him, and I hope the coaching staff has game-planned for how to alleviate this deficiency.
Víctor Rodríguez – 7 | Community – 6.5 (on 65’ for Nouhou)
I was happy to see Rodríguez play in his second match in a row, and look good doing so. V-Rod completely changed the spacing and attack-minded play of Seattle and directly led to a much more cohesive team pushing into the Dallas defensive zones. In his short time, he had three shots, two key passes, and completed 89% of his attempts, all on only 25 touches.
One thing I liked: Rodríguez changed the shape and changed the game. His ability to collect the ball in traffic, push at goal, and link up with teammates as well as be goal dangerous himself was excellent. He showed his considerable talent and looked poised to score or assist nearly every time he touched the ball.
One thing I didn’t like: Although he created a lot, Seattle still didn’t score. A few speculative shots from V-Rod looked like he might be pushing it a bit, and we need to remember he hasn’t had a lot of game time with these guys lately.
Going forward: The talent is clearly there with Rodríguez, and Seattle is clearly stronger with him on the field. I hope they can continue to work on getting him re-introduced to the squad and figure out the best way to balance the team with a full complement of players.
Jordan Morris – 6 | Community – 6.7 (MOTM) (on 74’ for Delem)
Morris came into this match to try to inject a bit of pace and direct soccer, and he did that somewhat. In his short time on the field he contributed three shots and a key pass, while making the most of 14 touches.
One thing I liked: In the 79th minute Jordan cut into the middle on his left foot and hit a strong shot that forced a save. That is incredibly promising to see, as he has come a long way from the criticism of his left foot to striking confidently from long range on target.
One thing I didn’t like: Morris just missed a 75th minute game winner on the back post, and part of me is glad he didn’t try the diving header (at the expense of his safety with the post there), but that might have scored.
Going forward: People keep telling Morris he can’t do this or that. Now they are saying he can’t play right wing. Uh, okay.
Harry Shipp – 5 | Community – 5.3 (on 93’ for Ruidíaz)
I get wanting to protect Raúl, who was getting hammered, and maybe Shipp was the only guy warmed up, but geez, this was a headscratcher.
One thing I liked: Shipp had 100% passing and a clearance.
One thing I didn’t like: Why?
Going forward: I agree with the many who thought Harry should have started instead of Jones, and it’s hugely disappointing to see that once again he seems to have been leapfrogged by an underperforming favorite while all he does is play well. Just an appearance or two ago he was MOTM against New England!
Drew Fischer – 4 | Community – 3.4
This was an improvement over the last time we saw Fischer, if you can believe it. The way he refs is bad for everyone involved, and Seattle especially struggles with his style. Advantage made no sense, players were confused about quick cards, and he even struggled with delay. Somehow the first half had zero stoppage and the second had nine minutes. Not only that, he actually allowed 10. If Kim had been sent off for a foul that happened after this ref decided not to call the match after the 100th minute free kick (instead allowing the road team, up a man, to have a counterattack) I might have puked. The match was physical and players tended to have little idea what would be allowed and what wouldn’t.
One thing I liked: If you take away the card situations, I thought most fouls actually whistled were defensible. 16 were called against Dallas, and 12 against Seattle.
One thing I didn’t like: None of the rest made sense. Xavier Arreaga committed three fouls. Of those he got a warning, a very questionable yellow, and sent off. Barrios and Pomykal committed eight fouls between them and neither got so much as a warning. Advantage play was seemingly random, and if Fischer had appropriately carded Bryan Acosta for an 8th minute play-on yellow, it might have been Dallas down a man in the 79th when Acosta fouled Víctor from behind. Ryan Hollingshead got a yellow for a foul that Delem didn’t even get a warning for moments later. It didn’t make any sense. It was bad, bad, bad.
Going forward: I jinxed us last week by mentioning the run of good referees we’d had. I’d be happy to not see Fischer again this year; he has been the worst in 2019.
FC Dallas MOTM
Jesse González walks away with the award for this match after maintaining a clean sheet. That said, a case could be made for several FC Dallas players, and the dispersed voting reflects this.
The best way to make up for a lackluster game midweek at home is to go on the road and demolish a (hopefully) non-bunkering DC United team. Let’s improve on that 2.09 Eastern Conference ppg.