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Seattle Sounders at LA Galaxy: Player ratings

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Tireless Nico never tires.

Against an LA Galaxy team playing for their playoff lives, Seattle drastically rotated their lineup but many of their recent struggles persisted. A desperation last minute (literally) tying goal managed to rescue a point from the match, which featured multiple chances for both sides to show they were better than the 1-1 final score indicated. The draw ended both the Galaxy’s playoff hopes and the Sounders’ Shield chance. Seattle started a 17-year-old and changed out five starters; the lineup missed some cohesion but gave plenty of effort. Late subs of more talented players led to increased offensive chances but also a goal for the opponents, and Seattle needed a 93rd minute equalizer to earn the point.


Goalkeeper

Stefan Frei – 6 | Community – 6.5

Frei played well for much of the match, dealing with an entirely makeshift back group in front of him that understandably had major issues defending. He ended with two saves on the night, as LA only managed a few shots on goal from 12 attempts.

One thing I liked: Frei came up big, getting a finger on a low hard shot across goal in the 26th minute, and he was able to push it into the post and keep the Galaxy from taking an early lead.

One thing I didn’t like: In the 14th minute Stef came out on a corner kick, missed, and was caught in no man’s land as Alex Roldan saved the team from conceding. Frei and company need to be much improved on set piece defense in the playoffs.

Going forward: This lineup isn’t likely to be repeated going forward, so not much to take from it.

Defense

Nouhou – 6 | Community – 6.4 (off 86’ for Medranda)

Nouhou had many defensive actions against LA (15) and was forced into a more defensive role with the roaming of players in front of him. Consistently pushed back deep on the left, he did well to rebuff any attacks from LA and combined to keep possession on that side, although he wasn’t able to get forward with any regularity.

One thing I liked: Eighty-eight percent passing and 72 touches is nice work from Nouhou, who was clean and did well paired on the left defense with Xavier Arreaga.

One thing I didn’t like: Joevin Jones roamed all over the place in front of him, and there was no cohesion from him and Nouhou on the left. This meant the left back rarely got into good positions with the ball, and he was a disappointing 0/1 on passing into the box.

Going forward: Nouhou seems to be top of the depth chart, but who knows.

Xavier Arreaga – 6 | Community – 5.8

Arreaga returned to the starting lineup and was a steady defensive presence among a lot of strife. He ended with 14 defensive actions, shading across to support the right as necessary and recovering well using his speed on multiple occasions.

One thing I liked: Xavi showed great range all night, and in the 50th was all the way across behind Alex Roldan to defend on the right touchline. His ability to cover behind a porous middle of the field was essential to their defensive play.

One thing I didn’t like: Every match he has a questionable defensive play and in this one it came in the 24th with a foul (his only one of the night) in a bad spot that gave LA a decent chance.

Going forward: His level of play is excellent, and he should start every match as health allows.

Shane O’Neill – 5 | Community – 4.9

Shane was given another start and it was more of the same. He struggled for much of the game, but Seattle did enough last ditch defending to keep the team in it until late. Statistically he was poor, somehow recording only five defensive actions in the entire match. He did have 86 percent passing, with nine going to Frei.

One thing I liked: Shane was part of a “bend but don’t break” defense that somehow didn’t concede for the first 75 minutes.

One thing I didn’t like: Seattle was lucky that one of O’Neill’s many mistakes didn’t lead to an earlier goal, as he lost a corner kick runner as early as minute four, giving a free header. The more egregious errors were another runner behind missing a header in the 59th and chasing the ball on LA’s goal scoring play, leaving the backside open for their score. These big errors were surrounded by many smaller ones.

Going forward: Shane remains a serviceable backup level player, but giving him starts is perplexing.

Alex Roldan – 7 | Community – 7.1 (off 86’ for Bruin)

This was an excellent all-around performance from Roldan and likely his best outing over a full match as a Sounder. He truly looked confident and assertive and supported a right side that had a 17-year-old starting for the first time in front of him. Alex continues to develop and showed an above average all-around game. Ten defensive actions were part of a solid outing against a strong player in Cristian Pavón. He added a key pass and made good decisions on if and when to go forward and support.

One thing I liked: In the 15th minute Roldan had an incredible defensive play, full out diving to deflect a ball heading to goal up and off the crossbar and out of the goal. This phenomenal effort prevented a sure goal and was a hugely important play.

One thing I didn’t like: His 84 percent passing was just okay, and he missed a few chances to be more assertive going forward that may have helped an offense which was lacking playmakers.

Going forward: Kelvin Leerdam is still the starter, but the younger Roldan is offering useful minutes of rest to Leerdam without a huge drop in production.

Defensive Midfield

Gustav Svensson – 6 | Community – 6.0

After being frustrated coming off the field last match, Svensson played a full 90 and did well. He was asked to do a ton of work and run all over, trying to defend across the front of the defense, but he struggled to connect the defense to the offense. Svensson and Jordy Delem didn’t offer enough going forward with this lineup, although they often found the right pass to teammates who then failed to do much with the ball.

One thing I liked: Goose’s 99 percent passing and three shots complemented nine defensive actions, none bigger than a 91st minute full field sprint to close down Chicharito and force a bad shot, which would have sealed the game for LA.

One thing I didn’t like: Seattle was unable to defend the middle of the field several times, as cohesion between the two defensive midfielders was a struggle. We repeatedly saw runners get down the middle and Delem and Svensson nearly on top of each other defensively.

Going forward: Svensson and Delem may have too redundant playstyles to pair them.

Jordy Delem – 6 | Community – 5.5 (off 74’ for Joao Paulo)

Delem got another long run out for Seattle and did well, but struggled to combine through the middle in ways that gave the Sounders advantage. He had eight defensive actions but couldn’t connect many passes forward, and had communication errors at times with Svensson, as their positioning significantly overlapped.

One thing I liked: Jordy was diligently defending in front of the struggling O’Neill most of the night but also added an impressive 97 percent passing. He didn’t give the ball away, and firmly kept possession for Seattle all match, missing a single 42nd minute pass.

One thing I didn’t like: As noted above, cohesion between Delem and Svensson was a struggle for much of the match with runners able to get down the middle frequently.

Going forward: Delem remains a strong possession and defensive option off the bench.

Attacking Midfield

Joevin Jones – 6 | Community – 5.5 (off 54’ for Morris)

Jones got a rare left midfield start as he appears fully recovered from his various ailments and had an interesting outing. He played a free role, something he is familiar with from his national team play, and offered a possession and flowing movement look to his “wide” play, without a ton of direct creation. While playing on the left he completed 95 percent of his passes, although he drifted around to mimic Nicolás Lodeiro and support all parts of the field offensively, at the expense of any defensive duties.

One thing I liked: Joevin excels at gliding into space with the ball and has a unique ability to keep the ball in crowds that is very impressive. He repeatedly got the ball in the attack and moved all around to try to make things happen.

One thing I didn’t like: He left Nouhou on a defensive island, and his movement neutered any overlapping play from the left side. Although Jones had an okay shot on goal in the 48th minute, he had a wide open Nouhou to his left who likely had a better shot or cross to an equally open Raúl Ruidíaz.

Going forward: Jones playing this floating role is likely more effective with fewer substitutions elsewhere on the field.

Nicolás Lodeiro – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 6.4

Lodeiro had a massive influence on this match, forced to be Seattle’s entire creative focal point for much of the game. He nearly pulled Seattle into the lead on multiple occasions, creating good spots for others and exhibiting his legendary work rate even on short rest once again. While he touched the ball a game-high 115 times, he completed 79 percent passing and had eleven defensive actions, showing a willingness to play all over the field in an attempt to help the team win.

One thing I liked: Lost in the Seattle struggles in this match was a massive seven key passes earned by Nico, who dialed up teammates time and time again. The best may have been a nice cross in the 69th that Cristian Roldan barely missed putting away.

One thing I didn’t like: Asking Nico to defend the middle and create the entirety of the offense is much too much, and although they were close on a few occasions, this was cruel to the captain.

Going forward: I have no idea how this man can keep up this effort, but I am here for it.

Ethan Dobbelaere – 5 | Community – 6.0 (off 54’ for Cristian Roldan)

Seventeen-year-old Ethan Dobbelaere got his first Sounders start and was immediately impactful, creating some nice chances early and showing a willingness to push into attacking spaces and connect with teammates. He ended his shift shortly after halftime, but had 18 touches, 100 percent passing, and four defensive actions.

One thing I liked: Ethan cut into the middle with the ball in the 7th minute and took a left footed shot which clearly bounced off the defender’s outstretched right arm. This was an excellent bit of soccering, and his instinct to attack and shoot with his off foot was great to see.

One thing I didn’t like: That same play. The referee inexplicably ignored the first rule of soccer, and for the second time in recent memory a young Sounders homegrown player was robbed of a massive play in their debut.

Going forward: Young DoubleDare was clearly up for the physical challenge and is an exciting prospect to watch next year.

Forward

Raúl Ruidíaz – 7 | Community – 7.3 (MOTM)

Ruidíaz never stopped working in this match, and he was rewarded with a stoppage time equalizer. He had 44 touches, three shots, and 79 percent passing in a performance that saw him repeatedly drop into the middle to get touches and help support teammates by holding the ball up.

One thing I liked: It isn’t always pretty, but Raúl takes every single inch that teams give him. He should have had a PK earned, and he is constantly in the right place in the box to support runs. When the ball gets to him, he finishes.

One thing I didn’t like: Seattle struggled all night to get him the ball, as their creation from the wings was non-existent and instead relied on pushing the ball through the middle, which often required Raúl to drop and support instead of run into the area.

Going forward: Seattle needs to get the ball to Ruidíaz in space, and the best way to get space is to play guys willing to utilize the width and not compress the field so he is covered by two giant center backs.

Substitutes

Cristian Roldan – 5 | Community – 6.8 (on 54’ for Dobbelaere)

Roldan came into the match and was a catalyst for positive offensive change, running up and down his wing and being part of nearly all the Sounders’ best chances in the second half.

One thing I liked: Roldan nearly scored in the 68th, putting a shot off the post and again a minute later, on a header off a perfect Lodeiro cross.

One thing I didn’t like: This was too much “almost” for Cristian, and he was unsuccessful on five of six passes into the box.

Going forward: Roldan got some rest and hopefully that means a big performance this weekend.

Jordan Morris – 6 | Community – 6.7 (on 54’ for Jones)

Morris replaced Jones and immediately there was more space in the middle of the field and Seattle’s offense. He was very active, with 28 touches and four defensive actions as the Sounders pushed more numbers into the attack.

One thing I liked: Incredible effort in the 93rd minute from Morris, who beat no less than five players in order to be an integral part of the Sounders’ equalizer. His touch, speed, and decision making created something from nothing.

One thing I didn’t like: LA’s goal came from a poor turnover in the offensive end from Morris.

Going forward: Morris got some rest, and hopefully that means a big performance this weekend.

João Paulo – 5 | Community – 6.0 (on 74’ for Delem)

João Paulo came into the match and made a big difference with distribution in the middle, and his long switches and ability to push high in possession helped Seattle overwhelm offensive spaces.

One thing I liked: On the goal scoring play, JP first won a defensive header, then proceeded to follow the play with pace and make an outstanding one-touch pass to put the streaking Morris into the box.

One thing I didn’t like: João had a great look in the 88th from just outside the box and he put it over.

Going forward: João Paulo got some rest, and hopefully that means a big performance this weekend.

Will Bruin – 5 | Community – 5.5 (on 86’ for Alex Roldan)

Will Bruin played and made some important plays for Seattle. He earned a shot and was in the middle of good attacks with only three touches.

One thing I liked: Bruin had a nice header in the 88th to get the ball back into play on the end line, and his 93rd minute checking run and layoff was part of the Seattle comeback sequence.

One thing I didn’t like: His 88th minute shot was blocked.

Going forward: Bruin remains wildly inconsistent and at times seems more helpful just getting out of the way.

Jimmy Medranda – 5 | Community – 5.4 (on 86’ for Nouhou)

Medranda got his first run out with Seattle and looked like a solid player. He was active, with 11 touches in a short time, and he helped up the left wing.

One thing I liked: Pressing into the corner in the 90th, he won possession and earned Seattle a chance with some smart play.

One thing I didn’t like: His lone miss was a pass in the 88th, which stifled a Sounders attack.

Going forward: Medranda is an intriguing piece who looks good on the ball and may end up being a contributor.

Referee

Silviu Petrescu – 6 | Community – 3.9

Petrescu returned to a Sounders game, allowed a lot of physical play, and let things go. Although he ended up calling 19 total fouls, it was the times he didn’t use his whistle that were the hardest to understand.

One thing I liked: It was honestly nice to see a referee give a yellow for time wasting, and when goalkeeper David Bingham got a yellow, it also gave Seattle extra time to find the tying tally.

One thing I didn’t like: Seattle earned two penalty kicks in this match, in the 7th and 73rd minutes. Either would have given them a spot kick for a lead I don’t think they would have relinquished. It’s a shame that VAR didn’t agree.

Going forward: Meh.

LA Galaxy MOTM

Cristian Pavón created pretty much everything for LA going forward. He played the corner that pinged around and required an Alex Roldan diving header to prevent a goal. He initiated the move that ended in Frei tipping a shot onto the post. Finally, he won possession and drove decisively at a stretched Seattle defense (then smartly let the ball run when he was in an offside position) on LA’s goal. Yup, Man of the Match.


Seattle has much to play for this weekend, and I would like them to win.