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Seattle Sounders vs. Vancouver Whitecaps: Player ratings

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Stat-stuffing João Paulo continues to basically do whatever he wants.

The mighty Sounders played a home match against Vancouver and dominated just about every facet of the match except the officiating. This was the kind of comprehensive match you expect from the top team in the conference against one of the bottom teams. Seattle held the Whitecaps to three shots over the entire game, while peppering their goal with 23 shots of their own, on the way to a 3-1 final score that wasn’t nearly that close. Seattle’s 70% possession included getting seven corners (to zero for Vancouver) and missing multiple chances to make this score even more lopsided.


Goalkeeper

Stefan Frei – 7 | Community – 7.3

Frei was one awful referee call from another clean sheet. (Where have we heard this before?) He did what was needed to keep his team organized in the back, made a big save, and had a near-perfect 96 percent passing rate to keep the ball firmly in the Sounders’ possession.

One thing I liked: The game was still in doubt in the 8th minute and Vancouver had their best non-referee-aided chance of the night. Lucas Cavallini got into a good spot and onto the end of a cross, only to be denied at near point-blank range by Frei’s excellent positioning and anticipation.

One thing I didn’t like: Is that two shutouts that referees have cost Seattle, and another from a late defensive lapse in their last five games? Yes. Yes, it is.

Going forward: Stefan is an integral part of the best defense in the West and will likely be more active in the next few games as Seattle shuffles lineups.

Defense

Nouhou – 6 | Community – 6.6 (off 73’ for Smith)

Nouhou shrugged off a late knock from the last game to get another start and showcase more dominant defensive play down his left side. Cristian Dájome and Jake Nerwinski were completely shut down, and the Sounders left back continually probed far forward up the left wing to support a consistent Seattle attack.

One thing I liked: Nouhou doesn’t give up on plays, even up three-nil. In the 60th minute it was his excellent hustle in support of Yeimar Gómez Andrade that helped ensure the referee couldn’t add DOGSO to his reasons for handing Vancouver a Red/PK.

One thing I didn’t like: Four of his five incomplete passes were entries into the box, and that remains the one small thing that I could find in Nouhou’s play to criticize.

Going forward: Nouhou keeps starting and the defensive play across the back remains excellent.

Xavier Arreaga – 7 | Community – 6.9

Arreaga remained the starter on the left of central defense and again showed excellent play as part of a solid defensive team effort. Arreaga had 78 touches in the back and converted 93 percent of his passes, consistently finding teammates with safe possession. Defensively he was everywhere, ending with 14 positive actions.

One thing I liked: Xavier’s range and speed was valuable on several occasions, especially in the 16th and 38th. Each time his ability to play free safety and cover in behind Gómez Andrade to clear danger was excellent.

One thing I didn’t like: Vancouver’s lone quality chance on goal came in the 8th minute as Cavallini stepped in front of Arreaga for a close-range redirect. Xavi needs to beat the opponent to this spot and prevent a lesser opponent from gaining any kind of early confidence.

Going forward: Arreaga has been called up to the Ecuador national team, and the way he is playing and combining in the back will be missed.

Yeimar Gómez Andrade – 7 | Community – 7.5

Yeimar again showed double digit defensive actions, smart offensive passing, and shut-down 1-v-1 defense on the opponent’s DP striker. His combination of size and speed matched up well with Cavallini, and he constantly outmuscled and outpaced him to get to the ball first, part of a defensive effort that held the opponents to three total shots. His 91 percent passing included a majority of probing, offensive minded looks up the right wing as well as a nice key pass volley in the 72nd.

One thing I liked: YGA limited his second DP opponent in a week to a single shot on goal. He controls the top offensive players in this league by physically dominating them with his size and speed, all while holding possession and pushing smart passes into the attack from the back.

One thing I didn’t like: Cavallini and Timothy Ford combined with a dastardly give-and-go in the 60th minute that was absolutely ridiculous and cost Seattle a deserved shut out. I believe Andrade wasn’t mad about the call because it was so bad that the only emotion it deserved was incredulity.

Going forward: The league has figured out that the best way to beat Yeimar is to just start making stuff up.

Kelvin Leerdam – 6 | Community – 6.8 (off 76’ for A. Roldan)

Leerdam had a bit of a quiet match against Vancouver, playing around midfield a lot and facilitating possession for more dangerous attackers. Defensively, he had few actions and was part of limiting the Whitecaps from being successful with attacking in the run of play.

One thing I liked: Kelvin has a good grasp of tactical play and knows when to get involved and when to cede space to teammates. He did this excellently against Vancouver, adjusting further inside in the second half to allow more space for Cristian Roldan to combine on the width and find service.

One thing I didn’t like: In the 49th minute Leerdam got forward and made a lousy pass toward Roldan. It was stolen and João Paulo was forced into a yellow card foul as a reaction to the Vancouver break.

Going forward: Leerdam did a steady job and got subbed, and a rested Leerdam is a dangerous Leerdam.

Defensive Midfield

Gustav Svensson – 7 | Community – 7.1

Svensson remains a very cohesive partner for JP and once again played the role of steady central presence perfectly. He stepped up defensively when needed and maintained strong positioning to anchor the middle of the field, spraying wide passes around to keep the ball moving.

One thing I liked: The little things add up. In the 52nd minute he pushed wide to support and found Roldan for a cross that ended up scoring. Six minutes later Goose teed up a ferocious volley from outside the box that forced a great save from Bryan Meredith, but also earned a corner for Seattle — one that the Sounders scored from.

One thing I didn’t like: Just when Seattle gets a rhythm, he gets called up again, which will force more midfield changes.

Going forward: Svensson started two matches and Seattle should have had an aggregate 6-0 score line from them. He will be missed.

João Paulo – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 8.6 (MOTM) (off 89’ for Atencio)

João Paulo continues to do so much during a match, it’s almost impossible to note it all. Defensively, he leads the team from anywhere on the field, earning 14 actions encompassing each third. Offensively, he is starting to make an impact multiple times each match, and against Vancouver he had three key passes, a goal, and 89 percent passing while touching the ball 107 times.

One thing I liked: Yeah, he had a goal and made aggressive forward passes that continually set up chances for teammates. It was the 19th minute that stood out, however, as Vancouver looked to break from a failed Seattle set piece and JP absolutely hauled ass back on defense, directing traffic to cover runners before sliding in and disrupting play. This guy doesn’t forget his defensive duties, even when he is dominating offensively.

One thing I didn’t like: In the 51st minute he missed an easy switching ball, and a few other minor mistakes let him down as a little more concise passing from Seattle may have broken the game open even further.

Going forward: Having a defensive midfielder be this goal-dangerous via long diagonals to Jordan Morris or slipped balls to Roldan wide or give-and-goes with Nico Lodeiro or through balls to Raúl Ruidíaz, or just slamming the ball home from outside the 18 on his own (like he did against the Whitecaps) is almost too much when combined with his defensive work, which is as good as any Seattle has had.

Attacking Midfield

Jordan Morris – 7 | Community – 7.1

Morris had a strong game doing just about everything except scoring. He had 58 impactful touches and turned them into sparkling 95 percent completion rate and four key passes. Of all his effort to set others up, it was his back in the 58th minute that earned him his single assist. Jordan continues to stretch defenses and create for himself and others and add a half dozen defensive actions in support of the guys behind him.

One thing I liked: I love how dialed into the game he is, and JP’s goal likely doesn’t happen if both Jordan and Nico don’t exhibit incredible hustle to re-establish themselves as onside in the 46th minute. There is a chance this goal gets brought back for keeper interference as Morris on the backside would have been potentially impacting the play. These little plays showing game knowledge and tactics are excellent growth points.

One thing I didn’t like: Morris had five shots but failed to get one on goal. A couple were headers, and if J-Mo ever gets consistent heading the ball — look out.

Going forward: Morris has developed a partnership with JP that allows him to be goal dangerous in new, exciting ways. He is creating for others; he is scoring and assisting and doing all the things we hoped he would do.

Nicolás Lodeiro – 8 | Community – 7.6

Nico has been unlocked in the last few games and looks dominant. His stat line is impressive: Game-high 120 touches, six key passes and 80 percent completion rate, seven shots, and constant movement and creation all over the field. He is changing into an even more elusive player to track as he combines with teammates to move the ball quickly into dangerous areas. He’s also added some counter pressing to the Sounders’ play.

One thing I liked: Nico has long relied on others to make runs or move, as he had to drop deep and get the ball to pull strings. As João Paulo has taken on more of the deeper playmaking, Lodeiro has become more directly goal dangerous himself. This is exciting, as he is getting into great spots every match to call his own number.

One thing I didn’t like: Nico had a few good chances, none better than his 73rd minute wide open shot from just outside the six-yard box from YGA. Nico put this one over, and he really should have buried it.

Going forward: This is a short week and his superhuman endurance will be tested.

Cristian Roldan – 7 | Community – 7.7

Roldan followed up a strong match against LAG with another productive offensive game against Vancouver. Especially after halftime, Seattle was able to combine down his wing and utilize strong service to disrupt the defensive block and get the ball into fortuitous attacking areas. Cristian put both his shots on target and showed improved connection with offensive movement.

One thing I liked: It took until the second half to click, but Roldan’s movement was consistent the entire match. His service wide created two goals, and he remains nearly perfect with his decision making on the wing. He lifts his head up and finds the open man and the dangerous area nearly every chance he gets.

One thing I didn’t like: In the 87th minute Roldan had a 1-v-1 and failed to convert, robbing his buddy Morris of an assist; the great run clearly deserved a better finish.

Going forward: Just as Cristian was heating up outside, the Sounders are losing a few defensive pieces that may force him to return to the middle.

Forward

Raúl Ruidíaz – 7 | Community – 7.4 (off 76’ for Bruin)

Ruidíaz returned to the lineup after a break and did all the little things he does that must drive defenders nuts. He only touched the ball 29 times but managed four shots, a key pass, 84 percent passing and a goal, all the while dropping in to link up and create gaps in the Whitecap defense. This was another very efficient match.

One thing I liked: Goal scorers have a nose for the goal and Raúl was in the right place at the right time in the 59th minute to put the match out of contention. Although it was only a point-blank header, he did well to slide unmarked into the spot and stay onside.

One thing I didn’t like: He had a slightly harder header, but one I would expect him to bury, in the 27th minute. His defender gave him the space on a set piece, and Raúl should have started the scoring early.

Going forward: Raúl is off to play with his national teammates. I wish him goals, marmalade sandwiches, and no injuries.

Substitutes

Brad Smith – 5 | Community – 6.2 (on 73’ for Nouhou)

Smith came on and didn’t do much that was notable. Of his 25 touches, most were used to connect through the center of the field or chunk in a few hopeful crosses.

One thing I liked: In the 74th minute Brad showed some nice defensive work, with a tackle and recovery supporting the central channel defensively.

One thing I didn’t like: Smith’s six incomplete passes just so happened to be the six he attempted toward or into the box. For all the grief people give Nouhou, this was not good.

Going forward: Smith has not looked like a game changer yet since returning to Seattle.

Jordy Delem – 6 | Community – 5.9 (on 73’ for Svensson)

Delem again entered for Svensson and helped close out the game for Seattle. He was clean and calm on the ball, touching the ball 30 times and ensuring that there were no late-match heroics from Vancouver.

One thing I liked: He had three defensive actions and completed every single one of his 27 passes. This is exactly what you want from a substitute: come in, defend, and keep possession.

One thing I didn’t like: Seattle wasn’t chasing a result offensively, but there still were a few times that Delem could have taken a little more risk from a safe area, and instead he played square.

Going forward: Delem did nothing to scare the staff away from using him as needed.

Alex Roldan – 5 | Community – 6.3 (on 76’ for Leerdam)

Roldan got less playing time this match but again showed he can be an offensive catalyst down the right side. He ended with a key pass, 96 percent passing, and four defensive actions in 30 touches within a short time.

One thing I liked: In the 85th and 89th minute the younger Roldan had excellent passes into the box and one of them should have resulted in a goal.

One thing I didn’t like: Defensively, Alex lost possession in the 78th and at times was chasing the play from behind. His offensive instincts and service are good, but game state demanded a defense-first approach.

Going forward: Again, Roldan allowed Leerdam some rest and having this combo keeps paying off for both.

Will Bruin – 5 | Community – 6.1 (on 76’ for Ruidiaz)

Bruin saw a little late game action to stretch his legs and get some weekend exercise.

One thing I liked: He won an aerial duel and again put it directly to a teammate. His ability to link up with passes or clearances from the back gives Seattle some route-one ability.

One thing I didn’t like: They were few, but Bruin had several chances to help his team and his decision making seemed off, missing runs and choosing to hold the ball unnecessarily, leading to a 67 percent pass completion rate.

Going forward: Will is your likely starter if Raúl is away, and he will need to continue to get teammates involved around him.

Joshua Atencio – 5 | Community – 5.6 (on 89’ for Joao Paulo)

Young Atencio got to run against the Cascadia rivals and held his own.

One thing I liked: Josh is a tremendous passer, and his great touch was displayed in only a few minutes on the field. He was a perfect 10/10 passing including numerous one-touch balls that went to optimal spots.

One thing I didn’t like: Defensively, Atencio was a bit lost. He failed to record any defensive actions with a combination of positional ambiguity and Vancouver laying down.

Going forward: Atencio may be a center back but his passing and touch is exciting to have, no matter where he plays.

Referee

Timothy Ford – 3 | Community – 2.1

We may have jinxed ourselves with the discussion last week about referees. In this game we made it through the first half with only a few head scratchers. Then Seattle got up 3-0 and the referee immediately inserted himself into the match with an absolutely hideous call that he further compounded by refusing to admit he was wrong.

One thing I liked: There were a few moments where I thought the referee did an okay job. Ignoring two separate PK claims in the 19th minute on two dives was a good bit of officiating, and the yellows in the 26th and 52nd were spot on, especially the latter to come back and give an off-ball caution. Instant red for Janio Bikel was also the right call.

One thing I didn’t like: A “4” is USL-level refereeing, but I still think a USL ref would have gotten that call right with VAR support. I don’t dispute a referee who, in the run of play, calls a foul incorrectly. Similarly, I don’t begrudge them red carding the play, as it follows the bad call. What I have a huge issue with is then going to the monitor, talking to VAR for four minutes, and coming up with whatever garbage he justified that call with. Yeimar was the one fouled, it was all outside the box, contact (if any) as YGA was falling down was nonexistent or inconsequential, you name it. You can make a bad call. You ABSOLUTELY CAN’T compound that by watching clear and obvious evidence of your wrongdoing and doubling down on it. Garbage.

Going forward: It’s hard to make an entire rating about a single call but it was so absolutely, mind-blowingly egregious that it’s hard not to. I gave Allen Chapman a pass in the SJ game but no more. These guys must do their job right, regardless of score or situation.

Vancouver Whitecaps MOTM

Former Sounder Bryan Meredith comes away with Man of the Match for keeping the scoreline reasonable. He did well to deal with Svensson’s volley, and was a bit unsighted on JP’s opener. He was put in a tough spot on Seattle’s second, parrying the senior Roldan’s cross off Erik Godoy for an unfortunate own goal.


Seattle plays two to three times a week for the next forever so this will be a huge test of their depth and conditioning. Up first is an RSL team that we generously shared points with away. Let’s not be so nice at home.