Seattle’s almost healthy team was able to finish the season off strong, overpowering San Jose at CenturyLink with a comfortable 4-1 win. The Sounders showed that when they have a first-choice lineup, they can dominate in spurts against playoff teams, and they used a strong second half to close out the season. The first half was another story, as Seattle controlled much of the ball but were unable to score and allowed San Jose a few counterattack chances. By the end, the Sounders had a dominant score line and will go into the playoffs as the second seed and with some needed momentum.
Stefan Frei – 6 | Community – 6.6
Frei was credited with two saves but didn’t have a lot of action against San Jose, who struggled all night to penetrate a stout Seattle defense. Stef was solid with the ball at his feet, and mostly stayed out of the way while others did the soccering in front of him.
One thing I liked: San Jose had a great chance in the 84th minute to make it closer, and Frei was excellent to stop a Siad Haji attempt from deep in the Sounders’ box.
One thing I didn’t like: I’m not sure whether he was surprised or leaning the wrong way, but Stefan was completely flummoxed by a direct free kick in the 57th that went right by him and brought the Earthquakes briefly back into the match.
Going forward: This was a strong Seattle lineup and they played well, although they must not give up any cheap chances in the playoffs.
Nouhou – 6 | Community – 6.2 (off 65’ for Alex Roldan)
Nouhou had a surprisingly quiet match, touching the ball 48 times and being mostly a defensive presence and offensive decoy. He only had seven actions, although he was part of a strong team effort to limit Cristian Espinoza and Chris Wondolowski from any quality chances.
One thing I liked: Nouhou continues to get in good spots, none better than a 23rd minute backside header that he put down and away from the goalie well. Unfortunately, even though the ball beat the keeper, it was also just wide of the left post.
One thing I didn’t like: He had an overly aggressive tackle that Espinoza was happy to embellish into a foul, setting up a free kick in the 56th. This led to the only San Jose goal, and Nouhou did not need to leave his feet in that spot.
Going forward: Next up is a big defensive task coming into CenturyLink. We will see if LAFC is ready for Nouhou’s improving offense.
Xavier Arreaga – 7 | Community – 6.6
Arreaga got another start in between Nouhou and Yeimar Gómez Andrade and was solid. He ended with 14 defensive actions, controlled his lanes, and prevented any San Jose attacks to get in behind all night. His passing was excellent, a fantastic 96 percent on 93 touches.
One thing I liked: With Seattle attacking high through the left, Xavi slid across behind Nouhou smoothly in the 12th and 34th, both times denying any penetration by San Jose down that side.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 18th and 19th minutes Arreaga had some errant passes, each one going toward the middle of the field and putting immense pressure on teammates to defend the quick counter attacks these invited.
Going forward: Unfortunately, Xavier will be off with his national team, meaning he won’t be able to play until the second Sounders playoff match.
Yeimar Gómez Andrade – 7 | Community – 6.6
Yeimar returned to the lineup and again showed what a dominant and calming force he is. Only seven actions were needed in a quiet defensive match that was highlighted by his ability to remove Wondolowski for most of the game. His anticipation and marking ability forced San Jose wide consistently.
One thing I liked: YGA remains Seattle’s best attacker on set pieces, and he nearly scored in the 69th off a nice header that forced a goal-line clearance.
One thing I didn’t like: The Sounders were almost caught in a terrible position in minute 36 when Yeimar inexplicably passed the ball directly to San Jose in the middle of the field. This gave the Earthquakes a 3-v-2 and only heroic support from Arreaga forced a wayward shot.
Going forward: Seattle will need strong performances from Yeimar if they hope to make a long run this season.
Kelvin Leerdam – 6 | Community – 6.1 (off 81’ for Delem)
This has been a bit of a quiet season from Leerdam, who had another match where he was a solid support player but not much more. He touched the ball 40 times, passed well to teammates (83 percent) and did his job with little support.
One thing I liked: Kelvin had an important defensive action in the 66th, as he came across from his right defensive position to defend against Wondo on the left, clearing this dangerous chance away.
One thing I didn’t like: Leerdam got forward a lot in the first half but had no luck getting the ball into dangerous areas, and he faded after the break before being subbed late.
Going forward: Kelvin hasn’t had an impactful match offensively, and that is something we could use in our next game.
Cristian Roldan – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 7.3
Roldan had an incredible game that was complete from front to back. He was a defensive monster, with an unheard of TWENTY-TWO actions, highlighted by a dozen recoveries. These plays came from sideline to sideline and from 18 to 18. Not satisfied just being a defensive destroyer, he added a monster 98 touches, 84 percent passing and an assist.
One thing I liked: In the 54th minute Cristian got a nifty pass from Jones in the middle of the field and he drove with pace through the heart of the San Jose defense. He rode a challenge while going by three others, before finding Raúl Ruidíaz for a goal. This was impressive and assertive, direct offense through the heart of an opponent.
One thing I didn’t like: He missed a wide open Leerdam in the 20th minute up the right wing and this prevented a 4-v-3 break with Nico, Jordan, and Raúl.
Going forward: Roldan looked awesome in the central defensive midfield and likely has earned the start there in the playoffs.
João Paulo – 7 | Community – 6.8 (off 90’ for Atencio)
João’s pairing with Cristian was a defensive fortress, and JP added 13 actions of his own across the little area that Roldan didn’t dominate. JP led Seattle with 101 touches and dropped in a key pass among his 83 percent completed.
One thing I liked: In minute 80 he put a fantastic over the top ball directly onto the foot of Morris, who forced an own goal. This was a delicate chip weighted perfectly that got Jordan in behind.
One thing I didn’t like: Although he completed many passes, JP missed on some over the top and vertical passes that he usually completes. He needs to be a threat to combine up the field, and not just possess around the back.
Going forward: Seattle needs a strong postseason from JP in order to go far, and we know he’s capable of that.
Jordan Morris – 7 | Community – 7.5 (off 90’ for Hopeau)
Morris had a complete performance, defending well and being part of a handful of big scoring chances. He scored one and forced an own goal on another, in a very effective game. He had 43 touches and consistently pulled the San Jose man-marking apart with vertical runs and combinations across the field.
One thing I liked: Morris’ athleticism took over in the second half, breaking the defense by getting in behind or cutting it in half diagonally through the middle with decisive runs. Nearly every time he got near the ball, Seattle had a big opportunity.
One thing I didn’t like: Other than getting in behind and creating goals, Morris struggled at times to link up with the ball at his feet. He seems to have trouble getting the ball vertically to the middle in order to run off the ball, and a small improvement will likely increase his effectiveness.
Going forward: Morris is one of the few players who can single-handedly take over a match and will need to continue this form as Seattle wins another cup.
Nicolás Lodeiro – 8 | Community – 8.0 (MOTM)
This was the quintessential Nico Lodeiro match. He absolutely torched the stat sheet with 89 touches, three key passes, two shots on goal, seven defensive actions, a goal, and an assist. Nearly all his passes came in the attacking half as Lodeiro set up shop in Earthquake territory and ran circles around San Jose. His goal opened the scoring, as he followed up his free kick into the box and put it away.
One thing I liked: Nico earned an assist in the 74th minute and it was incredible. First off, he aggressively pressed Florian Jungwirth into a bad touch and stole the ball. Somehow, he “saw” Morris behind him and made an inch-perfect, no-look cut pass exactly into Jordan’s run to put his teammate in on goal. I tried to slow this down and see any hint of a peek or look but there is zero indication that Lodeiro did anything other than know where Jordan should be and put the ball there blind. Amazing.
One thing I didn’t like: Nico missed a few passes and in the first half his movement was stressed and less influential than the second. This was because spacing was minimal and he overloaded wide spaces ineffectively.
Going forward: This rest period is most useful for a guy like Nico, who has run more than anyone else in the league this season.
Joevin Jones – 6 | Community – 6.2 (off 82’ for Medranda)
Jones returned to the right midfield and did a nice job balancing the space. He brought a good defensive touch against the Earthquakes, with 10 recoveries, showing a willingness to track back and support. His style of gliding around and offsetting the movement of Lodeiro gave the Sounders a large possession edge.
One thing I liked: Joevin has incredible possession ability and doesn’t lose the ball when challenged. He paired this with near-perfect 97 percent passing against San Jose, never giving the opponents the ball and always finding teammates.
One thing I didn’t like: Jones was playing an offensive role but didn’t bring a lot of offense. He ended with zero shots or key passes and failed to set up others in good areas. All his passes were safe, horizontal or away from goal, with none even attempted toward the opponent’s area.
Going forward: If Jones is going to play offensive midfield, he needs to bring more offense.
Raúl Ruidíaz – 7 | Community – 7.6
Ruidíaz was quiet by his terms, and yet nearly had a hattrick. That is pretty much how it goes with him; he seems to be lurking at the periphery until he strikes. Raúl was part of a dominant second half effort, with Seattle continually getting the ball into the box and scoring.
One thing I liked: San Jose probably hadn’t processed conceding the first goal when Raúl struck again. He always looks to put the ball in the net, and when given a chance moments after the Earthquakes got the ball out of their own goal, he put his shot from the top of the box away. Ruidíaz hits the ball so hard that deflected goals like this are probable.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 78th minute Raúl had both Jones and Morris wide open to his right and instead took it himself, depositing the ball into a BLM sign in section 122.
Going forward: It’s playoff time, and Raúl is the most clutch Sounders playoff performer ever.
Alex Roldan – 6 | Community – 6.3 (on 65’ for Nouhou)
Roldan came into the match and was a great catalyst for positive offensive change. His introduction allowed Seattle to press higher offensively and helped Seattle create chance after chance late. He only missed a single pass in his half hour stint.
One thing I liked: His pressure in the 74th minute forced a bad back pass, which Seattle won and scored on immediately.
One thing I didn’t like: I don’t know why he didn’t sub in for Leerdam. The two of them made a lot of redundant plays on the right side which were safe, but not particularly exciting.
Going forward: Alex will factor into the playoff substitutions and unlike a year ago, that’s a good thing.
Jordy Delem – 5 | Community – 5.6 (on 81’ for Leerdam)
Delem arrived to help see out the end of the match and did what was needed to do just that.
One thing I liked: Although he was only asked to pass the ball four times, he completed every single one to a teammate.
One thing I didn’t like: Only a single defensive action for Delem, who struggled to find the match.
Going forward: Delem is likely to be the first defensive midfield sub until Gustav Svensson is back, and he’ll need to be ready to go.
Jimmy Medranda – 5 | Community – 5.5 (on 82’ for Jones)
Medranda came in and played left back and had a ton of action in a short shift.
One thing I liked: He only missed a single pass, keeping the ball for the Sounders as they closed out the match late.
One thing I didn’t like: Upon arrival Jimmy was immediately beat behind in the 84th minute, forcing Frei to come up huge to keep the scoreline.
Going forward: I’m not sure where he fits, but his defense needs to improve if he’s coming in at left back.
Shandon Hopeau – 5 | Community – 5.3 (on 90’ for Morris)
Hopeau returned to CenturyLink Field for a small cameo. He didn’t touch the ball a single time.
One thing I liked: It was nice to see some younger players get a run, even short-lived as it was.
One thing I didn’t like: At a minimum, you should try to touch the ball once.
Going forward: Hopeau has been fine in his few brief outings and remains an exciting piece to develop for the future.
Joshua Atencio – 5 | Community – 5.3 (on 90’ for JP)
Atencio returned to CenturyLink Field for a small cameo. He touched the ball four times.
One thing I liked: It was nice to see some younger players get a run, even short-lived as it was.
One thing I didn’t like: While his two square passes were completed, a 91st minute pass up the wing was not.
Going forward: Atencio has shown a high ceiling for the future and is someone to watch and see if he can develop into more.
Jair Marrufo – 7 | Community – 5.9
This was a quiet match where only 19 total fouls were called. Marrufo did a good job keeping the match under control, and some early discussions dissuaded players from being overly aggressive and dangerous.
One thing I liked: There were zero yellow cards in this match, and I can’t remember any particularly egregious events that warranted one.
One thing I didn’t like: I thought Cade Cowell could have used a warning after sizing up Cristian Roldan and whacking him in the 29th, and Tommy Thompson and Judson got away with their usual shenanigans.
Going forward: Playoff refereeing is always a crapshoot.
San Jose Earthquakes MOTM
Marcos López had quite the stat line in this one. A mini-Olympico, a clearance off the line to prevent a goal, and of course, an own goal. Bravo.
Seattle gets a home game against a very explosive team. I think getting an early score would really help.