After a dull home match midweek, you might have thought Seattle would be motivated and solid against DC United on their weekend away trip. This assumption would have been horribly wrong. Seattle looked at times pretty bad and at others even worse. The final score was 2-0 in favor of United, but neither team looked very good for any sustained periods of time. As a team, Seattle had high rates of passing completion, mainly from choosing safe, non-threatening passes and refusing to attack when the opportunities arose. Adding to the disappointing effort were some tactical choices that never panned out. Seattle both lacked attacking ideas and looked disjointed in the back.
Stefan Frei – 6 | Community – 6.3 (MOTM)
Another match, another multiple goal game for Seattle opponents, and Frei had little chance to change the score line. He did his best to keep the Sounders in the match with a number of quality saves, but was once again unable to help this team stop giving up crucial goals against.
One thing I liked: DC pressed Seattle, and Frei responded with a single missed pass all night, consistently finding clean possession to teammates and not giving up the ball.
One thing I didn’t like: Seattle’s defense was a mess for much of the match, looking consistently like it was barely holding on.
Going forward: I would love to see this team figure out how to defend as a unit like they have for the last 10 years, but at this point I’m not holding my breath.
Brad Smith – 5 | Community – 5.9
Brad Smith played against the United. He had a 95 percent passing success rate, but most of his completions were toward the center circle, no matter where they originated. He had a few nice attacking plays to lay the ball back into dangerous areas, but ultimately struggled to combine with Jordan Morris on the left side.
One thing I liked: Smith somehow ended up leading the team with four key passes. I don’t know how, as he looked to be out of synch with his teammates going forward, but there you go.
One thing I didn’t like: Aside from being beat consistently on defense, in the 7th minute Smith had a chance to change the whole match. But instead of crossing to Raúl Ruidíaz for an open-net goal and the lead, he chose to shoot through Bill Hamid. That is only a defensible choice if you score, and, well, he didn’t.
Going forward: Teams know they can attack over Smith and that they can get service off because he rarely closes down opponents.
Gustav Svensson – 6 (MOTM) | Community – 6.2
Asked to play in the back, Svensson was pretty good. He didn’t do a ton exceptionally, but he kept the backline fairly organized and led the team with four tackles in a strong effort defending. His ability to step back a line and immediately be effective is a testament to his high soccer IQ and versatility.
One thing I liked: Goose was meticulous with the ball, missing only two passes on the entire evening, linking up with teammates to the tune of 97 percent. This is about all you could ask for from a center back distributing the ball. He didn’t show a lot of range and stayed mainly in the left channel, but he did well to find switching passes consistently, completing many passes to the far-right wing.
One thing I didn’t like: It might be okay to stab forward as a defensive midfielder, but when Svensson did this from the back line it opened up huge gaps in the defense, and Seattle was lucky that DC was unable to take advantage.
Going forward: Svensson has played excellently at defensive mid, but he showed he can step into the back if necessary.
Kim Kee-hee – 6 | Community – 5.6
Kee-hee had an active match from his central defensive spot with 10 defensive actions and plenty of decent man marking. He had a strong 89 percent passing and even earned a key pass for his efforts.
One thing I liked: In the 48th minute Kim tried an over the top pass to Morris which I don’t recall him doing much, and I was pleased to see him look up and try to find a quick strike long pass.
One thing I didn’t like: Kim was often very high on the right side of the field supporting Kelvin Leerdam, but it rarely amounted to much more than him being out of position to defend going the other way.
Going forward: It’s alarming that Kee-hee has struggled no matter who he’s been paired with this season. With Román Torres back soon, Seattle needs to figure out how to defend, and quick.
Kelvin Leerdam – 5 | Community – 5.2 (off 82’ for Cecchini)
Leerdam has never looked great when he’s asked to play multiple games in a week, and this was no different, as he struggled all over the place on both sides of the ball. His 77 percent passing was just okay. More importantly, he failed to support any kind of attacking impetus up the right wing, despite having a very aggressive vertical positioning for much of his time on the field.
One thing I liked: Despite clearly having an off night, Leerdam did have two shots and two key passes. The best was a first time shot he absolutely tattooed at the goal in the 40th minute and was unfortunate to have blocked by a defender with Hamid beat.
One thing I didn’t like: Leerdam was beat repeatedly and looked mentally out of it. His clear frustration boiled over multiple times on the field, one of which led to him making a late, lousy tackle in the 53rd minute and DC scored off the ensuing free kick.
Going forward: Leerdam started the season great, but as it’s progressed, he’s looked worse and worse, being subbed out in this one for poor play. That is not a good sign moving toward the playoffs.
Jordy Delem – 6 | Community – 5.2
Jordy had a quiet night defensively, only recording six actions. He did a reasonable job in front of the back line, but failed to combine dynamically with Cristian Roldan or any other midfielder, instead choosing many safe, lateral passes which led to 95 percent passing.
One thing I liked: Delem helped defensively a lot, which hypothetically should have given others freedom to attack the goal with numbers.
One thing I didn’t like: Delem barely got forward at all in this match, and in the absence of Nicolás Lodeiro, Seattle desperately needed the team to support the attack, not sit back in the middle.
Going forward: Delem isn’t a great option to create offense, and this lineup needed more creators.
Cristian Roldan – 6 | Community – 5.7
Roldan didn’t have one of his better games, although he spent a ton of energy trying to get involved. A 94 percent passing rate was a bit of a mirage, with a number of passes technically complete but missing runs and teammates moving to good spots.
One thing I liked: Roldan attacked the goal consistently in this match and had three key passes originating from the right side. His ability to get into the offense created some of the few Seattle attacks.
One thing I didn’t like: There were some uncharacteristically bad passes from Roldan and while likely due to fatigue, it was surprising to see how off he was at times.
Going forward: With his work rate, it’s not surprising that Roldan faded in this match after playing multiple prior in the week. His ability to get into attacking positions was on display and should be something to watch in the next few matches.
Jordan Morris – 6 | Community – 5.6
Although not dynamic and creating chances all match, Jordan still managed to play okay. He had two shots, two key passes, and added a few defensive actions. His passing was strong (86 percent) and his movement direct and aggressive, but he failed to turn this into anything substantial.
One thing I liked: Morris kept trying to get involved, but didn’t have the support or ideas about the way to do that. Seattle’s best chances came from Morris touches or runs, and he remained dangerous even when surrounded by a plodding offense.
One thing I didn’t like: Jordan has yet to look great when paired with Smith, and I don’t know why we didn’t, at least once, consider switching the more technical Shipp with Morris to try both of them in a different tactical look. It couldn’t have hurt, right?
Going forward: Seattle needs more from Morris, and he didn’t assert himself in this match. I know it was a long week and included travel, but with Nico out, this was a chance for Jordan to step up and carry the team; instead we got 42 bland touches. He can and has to do better.
Víctor Rodríguez – 6 | Community – 5.6 (off 56’ for Jones)
Asked to replace Nico Lodeiro, I thought Rodríguez was strong. He clearly doesn’t have the endurance of Lodeiro but he replaced this with intelligent movement and excellent attacking coordination. He ended with three key passes and an 88 percent completion rate in a performance that was more quality than quantity. Defensively he was great as well, leading the team with four tackles while not being afraid to mix it up in the center of the park.
One thing I liked: It was the spectacular vision from V-Rod and a masterful over the top ball that found a streaking Smith up the wing in the 7th minute in a play that should have given Seattle an early lead and momentum.
One thing I didn’t like: Seattle desperately missed the massive areas that Nico covers and Víctor just wasn’t able to duplicate that movement. As a team, the Sounders stood around a lot and waited for things to happen, instead of moving to combine with V-Rod.
Going forward: I still think Rodríguez and Lodeiro interchanging in the center/left channels is intriguing.
Harry Shipp – 5 | Community – 4.5 (off 62’ for Silva)
Shipp started this game at the wing but once again spent a lot of his time centrally, supporting the middle and opening space for the overlapping Leerdam. This had minimal success, with Harry touching the ball only 38 times and completing 78 percent.
One thing I liked: What Harry did to adjust his positioning was strong tactically, and on another day might have made a big difference. This is something he naturally does and hopefully leads to teamwide tactical adjustments next time.
One thing I didn’t like: Shipp is a very technical player and needs others to move off the ball to support him. When confronted with a strong defense and limited options, Harry completely struggled to create anything.
Going forward: Shipp showed again that he is a complementary player.
Raúl Ruidíaz – 6 | Community – 5.7
Ruidíaz is officially in a scoring slump (for him). He is forcing shots at times and looks like he is trying to do it all on his own. This led to him dropping back to get touches, including 11 within the center circle. His 92 percent passing included a lot of strong holdup, but I believe everyone would prefer he play much closer to goal.
One thing I liked: Raúl led the team with four shots, forced a few saves, and should have had a 7th minute tap in. His dipping shot in the 12th minute was wicked, and reminded everyone how dangerous he is.
One thing I didn’t like: Ruidíaz is pressing, and it shows in some poor decision making. He forced shots, such as a 58th minute turn and hit into traffic with a massively open Morris wide to his left in an excellent position to get a pass.
Going forward: Seattle has to find ways to be stronger in the midfield, which will allow Raúl to go back to working on scoring, not playing with his back to goal to help get the ball out of their own half.
Joevin Jones – 4 | Community – 4.8 (on 56’ for Rodriguez)
One thing I liked: He completed 88 percent of his passes.
One thing I didn’t like: He had four passes out of 25 that can be considered going toward goal. He completed two of them. He lost both tackles he attempted. Unless he is put into space toward goal with a crossing option, he seems content to hold the ball, pass it backwards, and walk around.
Going forward: I thought we established his best position was left back, so we got 40 minutes of him at right “attacking” mid, and I no longer have any idea what the plan is.
Luis Silva – 6 | Community – 5.3 (on 62’ for Shipp)
Silva was active and did a great job of creating opportunities when he arrived. Playing ostensibly central attacking mid, Silva drifted wide to support the struggling right side and then popped up excellently in the box to create chances.
One thing I liked: Silva did a lot with his 13 touches, namely tied for team lead with four shots. He nearly scored, forcing multiple saves and again showing he has a great nose for the ball in the box.
One thing I didn’t like: He had a lot of shots but they didn’t score; Seattle desperately needed someone to break the seal.
Going forward: Silva doesn’t seem particularly great at a central midfield position, but excellent as a supplementary forward. Imagine if we switched formations to take advantage of this type of skillset in matches when we are chasing a result?
Emanuel Cecchini – 5 | Community – 4.9 (on 82’ for Leerdam)
Cecchini clearly doesn’t have the confidence from the coaches that he did early in his tenure here, added as an afterthought post 80 minutes for an underperforming Leerdam.
One thing I liked: Cecchini has clear attacking chops, as evidenced by immediately hitting an 84th minute pass directly into zone 14.
One thing I didn’t like: He tried to work in the middle, but only had a 64 percent completion rate when Seattle was desperately trying to link up forward.
Going forward: Maybe I’m missing something about his play, but he doesn’t look to factor into the Sounders’ lineups much moving forward, which is confusing.
Alan Kelly – 7 | Community – 5.1
Kelly gets a high mark if only because the teams were so slow and bad that there wasn’t enough fight to even commit fouls. A total of 18 fouls were whistled between the teams and neither side did anything egregious. A single yellow card was given, and aside from the first goal being checked, there wasn’t anything VAR-worthy.
One thing I liked: This game went quickly, and Kelly did a good job keeping it moving. The yellow was correctly given for a stupid, late tackle.
One thing I didn’t like: Víctor Rodríguez never gets calls, and in the 30th minute he got fouled multiple times without a whistle. On replay, he was fouled, but the ref motioned him to play on.
Going forward: This was an improvement over the last time he reffed the Sounders, but only because the away team didn’t show much fight.
DC United MOTM
It was Wayne Rooney.
There aren’t many opportunities left to write “I hope they figure it out.” We’ve made the playoffs for the eleventh time, because some of our rivals dropped points, but we haven’t looked like we belong there. Let’s finish our last two games strong, and ramp it up for the playoffs.