Seattle played a soccer game in San Jose last weekend. The final score was 0-0, a deserved result from a tedious, tepid affair wherein the visiting Sounders looked like they’d played a hard-fought midweek game, but of course they hadn’t. Seattle managed only two shots each half and one single shot on goal all match. The saving grace was San Jose’s nearly equal ineptitude, as they put only one shot on frame within 11 attempts. Without enough energy or creative presence on the field, this match was increasingly hard to watch as each team took turns looking ugly. Also ugly was the field, which was in terrible shape, so loose and falling apart that it was a miracle no one was seriously hurt.
Stefan Frei – 7 (MOTM) | Community – 7.2 (MOTM)
Frei finally got his shutout, and he deserved it. He was good with his feet and his hands, making the needed saves, utilizing his massive 50 touches and completing 90 percent of his passes.
One thing I liked: In the 65th minute San Jose got a great shot through traffic that was heading into the low corner; instead of a goal it was a perfect demonstration of Frei’s immaculate footwork. He found the ball through traffic and set to dive to his left excellently, pushing aside the shot.
One thing I didn’t like: Our keeper had 50 touches in a game where our co-leaders on the team had 71. When your goalie has the sixth most touches, you are likely not having a great match.
Going forward: Now that they have broken the non-shutout streak, this team is poised for more.
Nouhou – 7 | Community – 6.2 (off 92’ for Leerdam)
Nouhou had another dominant defensive output against San Jose, completely shutting them down. He had 18 defensive actions including six clearances, three interceptions, and three tackles. He remained mostly absent on the offensive end, especially after Seattle slowed down play in about minute 10.
One thing I liked: San Jose had absolutely zero success against Nouhou and managed zero shots from their attacking right side all evening. His combination of positional play and lockdown defense tilted the entire match away from his side.
One thing I didn’t like: Seattle needed creative thinking and execution and got the former without the latter from Nouhou.
Going forward: Nouhou has been dominant defensively against every team, but whether he’ll start remains a question mark right up until lineups get posted.
Shane O’Neill – 6 | Community – 6.2
O’Neill was given another start against San Jose and did a lot of things okay. His 88 percent passing was clean, and he was even co-team leader with two key passes from set piece play, but he again displayed severe limitations from the back that hampered the team’s success.
One thing I liked: Shane consistently showed the will to get across behind Yeimar Gómez Andrade and defend the central channels, which was useful against a team that features Chris Wondolowski, who loves to drift off the back shoulder.
One thing I didn’t like: Seattle needed someone to make a creative pass from the back. With Shane only comfortable with safe, 10-yard passes and without that ability in this starting defensive lineup, João Paolo had to constantly drop in and support, which neutralized his play.
Going forward: This was another game where the stats looked good, but the re-watch exposed O’Neill’s positioning and decision-making as adequate at best.
Yeimar Gómez Andrade – 6 | Community – 6.8
You know the team is struggling when a center back has eleven clearances. Yeimar was forced to kick it out time and time again as he put out fires all around the back. He was credited with 85 percent passing and did the things he needed to do defensively but made a number of mistakes and failed to be a catalyst for success going forward.
One thing I liked: YGA was perfect in the middle of the field, combining with teammates and defending well across the back as a unit.
One thing I didn’t like: When Yeimar got wide, his distribution numbers plummeted, failing to link up forward and making several awful square passes central that he must work to limit.
Going forward: Yeimar’s positives vastly outweigh his negatives this season, but luck has been needed to protect from some disastrous errors.
Alex Roldan – 5 | Community – 5.5
Alex Roldan played up and down the right sideline and never looked comfortable against San Jose. He had 10 defensive actions but was beat in behind several times, and he had zero impact going forward offensively as an overlapping right back.
One thing I liked: Tommy Thompson got in behind him in the 10th minute, but Alex adjusted and limited the opposing fullback from doing more than fancy dribbling before passing backwards for much of the remainder of the match.
One thing I didn’t like: Alex’s creativity was completely absent, and he didn’t complete a single forward pass or get into any advanced positions all night.
Going forward: This kind of performance isn’t making anyone forget Kelvin.
Jordy Delem – 6 | Community – 5.6
Delem followed up a strong match with an okay one, without any defining positive or negative moments.
One thing I liked: Delem did a little of everything: four tackles, 12 total defensive actions, and 88 percent passing.
One thing I didn’t like: Seattle desperately needed someone to help creatively, and Delem seems incapable of connecting on any forward passes of more than five yards.
Going forward: Delem is a viable choice when Seattle can offset his creativity deficit with different personnel.
João Paulo – 6 | Community – 6.2
João again looked tired, and that may be because Seattle was asking him to connect the ball from Frei to Bruin. He led the team with 71 touches and was a mixed bag creatively, completing only 75 percent of his passes and failing to earn any key passes.
One thing I liked: JP was everywhere, turning up defensively in the attacking third on each sideline, and he ended up with a dozen events all over the field.
One thing I didn’t like: Expecting one of only two creative players on the field to walk the ball up from goal kicks all match was a grueling ask, and Frei’s 65th minute save came after JP played poorly from the back.
Going forward: João Paulo has looked tired two games in a row, likely because the players who are currently away are the best to take some of the load off him.
Jordan Morris – 5 | Community – 5.6
Sometimes, watching live, Morris seems on the outskirts of a game, not having much impact. Then I re-watch and realize that is exactly what happened. Morris looked tired for much of the San Jose match and appeared increasingly frustrated as Bruin played into the spaces he wanted to run into, and service dried up.
One thing I liked: Even struggling for much of the match, Morris created a number of solid Sounders chances, perhaps the best in the 81st minute as he rounded multiple players and put a tantalizing ball far post that forlornly rolled past the goal mouth.
One thing I didn’t like: Jordan had six fewer touches than Frei. He has to figure out how to get on the same page as Bruin; in this game he was not.
Going forward: Seattle must send the ball to Morris in dangerous spots, and that means getting others who are less talented out of those spots.
Nicolás Lodeiro – 7 | Community – 6.4
Lodeiro worked hard against San Jose’s furious man-hack
marking that saw him double- and triple-teamed and followed everywhere he went. He continued to work hard but was ultimately unsuccessful in attacking dangerous areas as most of the match he was pushed back away from goal looking for touches. Nico had a sparkling 10 recoveries in a supportive defensive effort.
One thing I liked: An early 6th minute shot forced a save and was part of a strong first 10 minutes for Seattle. A late 73rd minute cross was perfect, only to be defended away. In between Nico never stopped looking for chances.
One thing I didn’t like: San Jose did a good job sitting deep and allowing Bruin, not Morris, to make diagonal runs, often crushing any available space. This limited Nico’s ability to put Jordan in behind and significantly compressed the field. He failed to register a key pass, which is incredible.
Going forward: The last match that Nico played on short rest he looked amazing, so that is the assumption until further notice.
Cristian Roldan – 5 | Community – 6.0
Roldan created a few chances but was nearly invisible against San Jose, ending with a paltry 30 touches and failing to impact the game much. A normally strong defensive winger, he was credited with two defensive actions all match, both recoveries, in the 3rd and 92nd minutes.
One thing I liked: Roldan set up a good chance for Nico in the 6th minute when Seattle still looked energetic, and he also had a key pass in the 92nd minute.
One thing I didn’t like: In between the first ten minutes and the last ten minutes, Roldan the elder was missing. His lack of chemistry with his brother on the right wing and Seattle’s lack of playmakers showed his own deficit in chance creation.
Going forward: Roldan has played better wide and will probably remain there. His success will depend on whether Seattle addresses the chance creation and on-ball deficit from this match.
Will Bruin – 5 | Community – 5.2 (off 82’ for Ibarra)
Bruin played hard at the start of both halves and while his effort was high for the match, his production was dismal. Seattle clearly needs to figure out how to better incorporate him into the offense. Nearly all of his 30 touches came with his back to the goal. He ended with a single shot and only 60 percent passing while missing opportunities on several occasions as teammates tried to set him up.
One thing I liked: In the 42nd minute Bruin was the savior of the defense on a set piece as his lunging clearance lifted a ball off the goal line that was assuredly going to score. Will’s refusal to give up on this play massively helped the shutout effort.
One thing I didn’t like: Seeing Bruin run into space Morris wants to go, yet slower, is hard to watch. The decisions from Will kept being the wrong choices, as his passes and holdup were either poor or wasted and his desire to get forward hindered others.
Going forward: Bruin needs to work solely on making others around him better, then accept (and finish) the chances those teammates create for him, instead of trying to do the opposite.
Miguel Ibarra – 5 | Community – 4.5 (on 82’ for Bruin)
Ibarra was the first Sounders sub in minute 82, and he replaced a tired Bruin who had just missed a few chances. Miguel proceeded to have three touches and went one for three on passing.
One thing I liked: Seattle using a sub against a man-marking team that had played midweek when you had a full week to rest was a smart move.
One thing I didn’t like: Seattle waiting till the 82nd minute to use a sub was so confusing.
Going forward: Ibarra not completing a single forward pass may explain why he wasn’t subbed in until late.
Kelvin Leerdam – 5 | Community – 5.3 (on 92’ for Nouhou)
Kelvin Leerdam, known time-killing substitute left back, subbed into the match and touched the ball once.
One thing I liked: The idea of resting Leerdam for the midweek match against Portland made a lot of sense. The team getting a shutout without him on the field was something to build from.
One thing I didn’t like: PLAY. THE. KIDS?
Going forward: Leerdam didn’t make a strong case to be started at left back on Thursday.
Subs 3 through 5
Couldn’t tell you.
Kevin Stott – 5 | Community – 5.5
Stott reffed about like you’d expect, just under MLS average. There weren’t a ton of egregious errors, but rather a distinct lack of whistling and a game that saw a terrible field compounded with officiating that let too much go. The result was a dangerous match that both sides can consider themselves lucky to have survived.
One thing I liked: I thought the 53rd and 76th minute yellow cards were both legitimately called and made sense.
One thing I didn’t like: Judson, who got the 53rd minute card for persistent infringement, had at least two “yellow on their own merit” cards prior. He also had two fouls after that. Perhaps more appalling was Andrés Rios, who somehow got away with six called fouls (and a few uncalled) without ever getting a card.
Going forward: This ref needed to use cautions and his whistle better to protect players as the physicality and the field deteriorated.
San Jose Earthquakes MOTM
Man-marker Judson is your Man of the Match, thanks in large part to his man-marking of Nico Lodeiro. He absolutely man-handled Lodeiro, committing many fouls while only picking up a single yellow. Man, what marking!
I’ll admit it, I hate playing Portland. We play them 73 times a year and it rarely feels good, no matter what the score is. Unless it’s a 5-0 win. I’ll take that.