Playing a team that had rudely sent Seattle home from Florida a few weeks ago, the Seattle Sounders produced their second thrashing of a “good” team in as many tries. The 3-1 score line against LAFC was again dominated by a goal explosion in the second half by the good guys, and the suddenly resilient defensive unit was cohesive and stout, giving up only a single goal within a few quality chances. Seattle looks much stronger on both sides of the ball and is dominating teams since returning from the MLS Is Back tournament.
Stefan Frei – 7 | Community – 7.3
This was another strong performance from Frei who gave up a goal against four shots on frame. His foot skills were much improved, and he was integral to Seattle playing out of pressure and creating gaps for the midfield to victimize.
One thing I liked: The game was still in doubt in the 9th minute when Latif Blessing got through the middle and found a hard-low shot. Stefan did well to get his feet in the perfect position and parry the shot away, saving a goal due to his excellent positioning.
One thing I didn’t like: While Frei’s footwork and passing were much improved over the previous match, the short looping goal kicks were confusing. I like the idea of Yeimar Gómez Andrade getting the ball on goal kicks if you are going short in the box, but some of these looked ill-advised and poorly executed, and it’s a bit of an adventure back there right now.
Going forward: LAFC scored a transition goal and ruined Frei’s shutout, but Seattle has only given up five goals all year in MLS matches. This is good for second in the league (of teams that have played a full seven matches) as is their +8 goal differential. This defense with Stefan at the back is one of the best in the league.
Joevin Jones – 5 | Community – 6.4 (off 72’ for Nouhou)
Once again Joevin got the start at left back and once again he failed to contribute much. His 83 percent passing and an errant shot were sandwiched around some questionable at best positioning and defensive choices. Jones was just okay on both ends of the field, and I expect more from a guy who had the second most touches on the team.
One thing I liked: Not known for his 1-v-1 ability, Jones had a beautiful defensive play against Diego Rossi in the 27th minute, standing up and dispossessing his opponent while on a wide island matchup.
One thing I didn’t like: I can see an argument for Jones to start due to his passing and possession numbers, but his lack of forward passing was readily apparent and his possession was non productive. He completed zero passes forward in the attacking third all match and constantly settled for standing on the ball and pushing it backwards. On more than one occasion he walked back defensively as LAFC broke down his wing, which can drive a coach (and ratings guys) crazy.
Going forward: Jones seems to play if he is healthy, and he is healthy.
Shane O’Neill – 6 | Community – 6.4
Another Sounders “bend but don’t break” defensive effort and another very solid day at the office for O’Neill. He was tidy with the ball (83 percent), made generally smart decisions, and popped up in support of teammates on several important occasions.
One thing I liked: Shane did a lot of desperation defending, and it worked. He consistently put it all out there to lunge, dive, slide, or jump into passing lanes and prevent LAFC from getting through. It wasn’t pretty, but his defense was effective. Fifteen defensive actions were all over the place but worked out in a gritty and effort-filled match.
One thing I didn’t like: Positioning is still an adventure with O’Neill, who is rarely in sync with the rest of his line. He takes some rough angles that at times force teammates into tough positions. One such play was an awful header in the 28th minute that forced a yellow card from Kelvin Leerdam to prevent an immediate LAFC break. I don’t know how long desperation defending can be counted on.
Going forward: There’s no arguing the score lines of the last two matches with SO in the back, and he’s doing exactly what you hope for from a backup. He has a nice high floor and is steady and dependable. Importantly, teammates have gelled around him and created a solid defensive unit.
Yeimar Gómez Andrade – 7 | Community – 7.4
Yeimar was fantastic for most of this match. He blanketed the field with defensive actions, ending with an impressive 18. His ability to body people with strength but then match anyone with speed was invaluable as LAFC pushed most of their attack into the channel around Leerdam. He completely blanketed Bradley Writght-Phillips who ended with a single shot in 77 minutes.
One thing I liked: YGA has good field awareness and covered from sideline to sideline, on multiple occasions sliding all the way to the left of the field to clear away or cover as Seattle condensed the field defensively. This was needed as O’Neill, Jones, and Jordan Morris didn’t have as much defensive cohesion as the other side of the field.
One thing I didn’t like: His passing, especially under pressure, is an adventure. YGA ended with an abysmal 52 percent completion. Much of the time he just cleared it, but the several times that he gave away a poor pass with a defender bearing down were disconcerting. Seattle is a team that wants to play from the back, and he has to clean up his possession numbers.
Going forward: Yeimar showed again that he has all the tools to be a top defender in MLS. His decision making and execution when charging forward are a bit suspect, and he will need to improve in this area since nearly every good chance from LAFC came with him pushed very high.
Kelvin Leerdam – 6 | Community – 6.4
Facing a majority of the LAFC attack for much of the night, Leerdam stuck mainly to his defensive duties, keeping tight inside and forcing everything for the opponents wide. This was effective on the scoreboard defensively, but also showed up in his relative lack of impact on the offense and inability to support Cristian Roldan in front of him.
One thing I liked: Kelvin isn’t known as a pure defender, but he showed up big in that role in this one. Of 14 defensive actions, eight were in his own box, as he consistently tracked back and tucked in defensively to support, keeping Seattle compact.
One thing I didn’t like: When Diego Rossi was scoring in the 60th minute, Leerdam was caught high offensively and failed to hustle back, instead watching the goal happen where he should have been.
Going forward: Kelvin is a great two-way player who failed to get much going forward, but as a veteran it’s great to count on him being defense-first. He has shown fatigue in games back to back, so that will be something to watch on Wednesday.
Gustav Svensson – 6 | Community – 6.7
At this point it’s hard to call it rust, as Svensson again had an uneven match. At times it seemed the midfield struggled to get on the same page. Once he got dialed in, the Goose had four tackles while completing 80 percent of his passes.
One thing I liked: He covers so much ground. Svensson accumulated 15 defensive actions from sideline to sideline, and at times he worked in a double-pivot sort of formation with João Paulo. When these two were in sync they completely dominated the middle defensively, which was a huge reason for LAFC’s struggles on the evening.
One thing I didn’t like: It again took a while for Svensson to get into the match, as he uncharacteristically whiffed on a few tackles and took a while to get his positioning adjusted to the movement of those around him. When he misses tackles or vertical runs, the opponents get big chances.
Going forward: As the match went on Svensson and JP looked to be getting better and better, and their partnership should continue to improve.
João Paulo – 8 | Community – 7.6 (off 78’ for Delem)
This was the new Brazilian DP’s best game as a Sounder, dominating both sides of play and absolutely crushing the stat book. He ended with a SOG, two key passes, 81 percent passing and an assist offensively, while at the same time contributing 14 defensive actions (seven tackles won!) in a dominant midfield performance. He was everywhere, and his intensity level combined well with Goose’s workrate in the middle as the two of them frustrated LAFC all night centrally.
One thing I liked: João had a wonderful assist in the 49th minute, stepping up to win a loose ball, playing a give and go, and then bursting through the right wing to deliver an inch-perfect cross for Morris to slam home. Every single part of this play was beautiful, but my favorite was the aggressive desire to charge forward and create a turnover immediately following a goal.
One thing I didn’t like: JP and the Goose dashing around from sideline to sideline to double team and defend like madmen was nearly victimized a few times. While I love their aggressive nature, they should improve their defensive spacing so runners don’t get down the middle through both as happened a few times.
Going forward: Both second half goals started by strong defensive plays from João Paulo, and his form is only getting better. His defensive work rate has shown, perhaps his offensive skill set is ready to arrive.
Jordan Morris – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 8.8 (MOTM) (off 86’ for Arreaga)
After a quiet Portland game, Morris erupted against LAFC, being dangerous on nearly every touch of the ball. He ended with three shots and two goals, nearly creating three more with his passing and off ball movement. He added eight defensive actions in a strong outing all around.
One thing I liked: Morris can take over games, and he did in this one. The first goal saw him split two defenders with pace to spare to get on the end of a perfect Nicolás Lodeiro through ball, and as we have now come to expect he finished clean and simply.
One thing I didn’t like: There were times in the first half where Jones and Co. got stuck on the left side and unable to clear, and Jordan has some accountability to help alleviate this pressure.
Going forward: Jordan was so good he forced a pulled muscle on someone trying to stretch to defend him in the first half. There are few (if any) in the league who can match up to him 1-v-1, and if Seattle can find him the other three times he is wide open back post, he will produce even more.
Nicolás Lodeiro – 7 | Community – 7.4 (off 78’ for A. Roldan)
The second watch showed just how much work Lodeiro put into this match. He led the team as usual with 85 touches and had a beautiful pass to Morris to break the game open, but it was his consistent work sideline to sideline that was hugely impactful. Nico covered the entire field, poking and prodding and being fouled repeatedly for his efforts while also contributing an incredible 13 defensive actions, clearly inspired to play both ways.
One thing I liked: Not many could even control the frantic O’Neill clearance that reached Lodeiro in the 48th minute, but he nonchalantly trapped it down on his first touch, and then turned and pinged an awesome through ball with his off foot on his second, weighing the pass perfectly to cut out multiple defenders.
One thing I didn’t like: Other than the assist, Nico wasn’t credited for a shot or key pass, and generally struggled to consistently find teammates in dangerous areas. In the 63rd minute he had a perfect shot available and instead cut it back to his strong foot and failed to get anything towards goal.
Going forward: Nico is Nico, and he provides excellent play nearly every time on the pitch, even on short rest.
Cristian Roldan – 6 | Community – 6.6
Roldan had another quiet night on the width, helping Leerdam defensively but failing to break through on the wing to provide scoring opportunities. He ended with seven defensive actions and a single key pass on the offensive end.
One thing I liked: Roldan mixed it up time and time again, creating live balls from 50/50 challenges and being willing to do the dirty work to create space for others to get into. His defense on corner kicks is underrated.
One thing I didn’t like: Once again Cristian didn’t create from the width and his 67 percent passing was worst of all the starters. His inability to help the offense meant just an okay outing.
Going forward: With the defensive midfield looking set, Roldan can look to keep starting on the wing, and as long as others score three goals a game, it shouldn’t be a problem.
Raúl Ruidíaz – 7 | Community – 7.9 (off 46’ for Bruin)
Ruidíaz had a tremendous match that was unfortunately cut short by a minor injury. Prior to leaving at halftime, he amassed a key pass, a wonder goal, three defensive actions, and 90 percent pass completion. Raúl was excellent even as Seattle struggled to find him the ball (14 touches).
One thing I liked: The sheer audacity to first-time an off-foot strike from 30 yards out is amazing. To put it in the net with such power, swerve, and dip is incredible.
One thing I didn’t like: I have heard about heel contusions from Ruidíaz before ☹.
Going forward: I hope his injury is nothing, as Raúl is playing some incredible full field soccer right now and may be in the best regular season form of his Sounders career.
Will Bruin – 6 | Community – 7.1 (on 46’ for Ruidíaz)
Whenever Bruin comes in good things happen, and they continued almost immediately when he subbed in for an injured Ruidúaz at half. Although not credited with a lot in the score book, there was no doubt that his energy and play helped create their quick goals.
One thing I liked: Yes, he had a nice backheel to put JP into the free on the width, but even more importantly than tekkers was Will’s instant pressure off the kickoff that forced the LAFC defender to play a stray pass for João to steal. Without that desire, the second goal doesn’t happen.
One thing I didn’t like: For all his energy and running around and pointing, Bruin was remarkably ineffective in getting the ball to open teammates. He ended with 46 percent passing and in the 52nd and 60th minutes missed wide open Sounders to instead shoot, which prevented him from earning assists.
Going forward: Adding Bruin and his effort and skill to the field has yet to be answered by a team this season.
Nouhou – 5 | Community – 6.1 (on 72’ for Jones)
Nouhou got into the game in the 72nd minute and did just about everything right, in a game where he was tasked with holding the score line.
One thing I liked: 86 percent passing, four defensive actions, and a cheeky 87th minute chest control to Frei inside the six.
One thing I didn’t like: I would have loved to see him feed the bear in the 80th minute. Maybe pulling the ball back for possession was the right call, but he had a chance to send in a cross for Bruin.
Going forward: Nouhou came in to be a defensive guy once again and did that. With the short turnaround it’s possible he will get a start on Wednesday.
Jordy Delem – 5 | Community – 5.6 (on 78’ for João)
Delem got some rare playing time and made the most of it, throwing his body around and earning two fouls and some cleat marks for his efforts.
One thing I liked: Delem knew his role; he came in as an enforcer and did exactly that. I think Mark-Anthony Kaye subbed out pre-emptively in the 77th to avoid him.
One thing I didn’t like: Zero recorded defensive actions and 50 percent passing won’t earn Delem much playing time in a crowded defensive midfield.
Going forward: Delem needs to make the most of his time on the field and he had no standout moments.
Alex Roldan – 5 | Community – 5.6 (on 78’ for Nico)
Roldan came in and was very active. It remains to be seen whether that activity can be productive.
One thing I liked: Three actions in the right defensive width helped Seattle keep their score line.
One thing I didn’t like: One completed pass on four attempts included an 85th minute chance to put Bruin in alone that he missed.
Going forward: It’s hard to blame Roldan who subbed in as “right” and was likely as confused as I was on what position he was to play, with coach throwing in defenders one after another.
Xavier Arreaga – 5 | Community – 5.8 (on 86’ for Morris)
Xavier returned from injury and looked good, although a little unkempt. (tuck it in, geez).
One thing I liked: 93rd minute sliding clearance stopped a potential scoring chance for LAFC and had to feel great from a guy who has underperformed. Completing both his passes likely felt good too.
One thing I didn’t like: This sub seemed late, especially with another game coming very soon.
Going forward: I hope this is the start of a redemption arc for Arreaga.
Kevin Stott – 6 | Community – 5.6
Stott tends to let a lot of contact go and this was no different. He is a veteran referee and someone who, although he struggles at times, is at least consistent with his calls (or non calls) so players can adjust.
One thing I liked: The game got chippy but never out of control, and I thought it was managed well outside of a few moments we never really got to see.
One thing I didn’t like: There should be cards issued when card-able actions occur. In the 18th minute Blessing hacked Roldan, clearly deserving a yellow, but advantage was played. This referee needs to go back and give that card after the play. In not doing so, Blessing then hacked for the rest of the match, finally getting his yellow in the 70th. Joao Paulo got bloodied and at least a few hard fouls deserved a better look.
Going forward: Stott has been around a long time, and while he isn’t horrible, there’s always small stuff that annoys you. He is not one of the worst in the league, though.
Diego Rossi did his usual, drifting across LAFC’s forward line to create chances for others and himself. In the 40th minute he dropped into midfield, turned, and played in Brian Rodríguez for LAFC’s best chance of the half. In the second half, he drifted back post on a counter to make the final half hour interesting.
After that satisfying home win, Seattle is back on the road Wednesday, to play an RSL team that you can never count out of a match (right, Portland?). Hopefully the small amount of rest afforded a few key players is helpful.