Anyone who was depressed after the previous result had to wait less than five minutes for Seattle to get on the scoreboard against San Jose. And then, like when you give your little brother the broken controller and thrash them repeatedly, the Sounders poured it on with merciless precision for the next 85. They scored almost at will, including four goals in the first 20 minutes, on the way to a 7-1 absolute beat down of the visiting Earthquakes. The only blemish was an absurd penalty that gifted the away team a late goal. Otherwise, Seattle displayed the most dominant soccer they’ve ever produced outside of early round Open Cup matches.
Stefan Frei – 7 | Community – 7.5
Frei had a quiet match. He was credited with four saves, and definitely deserved the clean sheet he seemed destined to earn until the referees fell asleep. While his defense was strong at shunting aside the few and infrequent Earthquake attacks, Frei did well to organize the players in front of him and maintain focus.
One thing I liked: Four times the away team kicked the ball in the right direction and toward Frei’s goal, and four times he made the save. He managed the defense expertly, offering a consistent outlet and choosing clean, quality distribution, completing nearly 90 percent of his passes.
One thing I didn’t like: I am still annoyed at how San Jose was gifted a PK, Chris Wondolowski was handed a goal, and Frei and Co. were robbed of the shutout. Seattle did everything right and this was a mockery of officiating.
Going forward: There were nice little improvements in his first-touch passing and Frei just continues to do his job regardless of score line.
Nouhou – 7 | Community – 7.1
Nouhou got the start and showed us all the things that we both love and hate about his play. You know it’s a fun match when Nouhou ties the team lead with three shots and adds a key pass to boot. With a little better finishing from Seattle, he likely would have earned several assists. He had multiple excellent passes that show an improved attacking mind.
One thing I liked: Everyone got excited when Nouhou got into the attack and did some good things, but it starts and ends with his defense, which was tremendous. Paired against San Jose’s best player in Cristian Espinoza, the Sounder left back completely shut him down, including three times 1-v-1 just crushing the opponent, dispossessing him and earning the ball for Seattle. This took away any hope from San Jose early and shut down their only attack.
One thing I didn’t like: The announcers erroneously got on Nouhou for an early pass that Jordan Morris misplayed, but there were others that were actual bad passes where he missed teammates or was late to make the correct decision on offense. He must improve his speed of decision making in the attacking third which includes learning where to go to get out of the way when the play isn’t simplified or linear for him.
Going forward: Nouhou showed the team can be very successful with him as left back, but it’s likely other players’ success elsewhere that will decide whether he starts or not.
Xavier Arreaga – 8 | Community – 6.8
Arreaga got his first start in a while and produced big time. The stats jump off the page: 95 percent passing on a TEAM HIGH 108 touches. Fourteen defensive actions. An assist from center back to jump start the game early. This was a strong performance that showed an excellent understanding of the entire defensive structure and should give him confidence going forward.
One thing I liked: In the first half it was so apparent why Arreaga is highly regarded. He always has his head up and can make the forward pass. His competition is safe, preferring wide square passes, but Xavier looks vertical and completed a dizzying array of entry passes to attackers instead of settling for slow play in the back. Arreaga was the key to unlocking Morris in this match, as it was a 4th minute vertical pass that found Morris cutting out two defenders and led to the first goal. In the 12th minute he repeated this to Joevin Jones, and Seattle again scored. His 95 percent passing was great; 95 percent passing when you have 30 more touches than anyone else on the field is impressive; 95 percent passing that cuts out multiple defenders and puts our attackers in advantageous positions is amazing.
One thing I didn’t like: That stupid penalty call. It’s no secret he has struggled defensively but Arreaga has gotten unlucky with referees, and this was by far the most egregious. Not only did he not foul Tommy Thompson, but the Earthquake player actually stepped on Xavier’s foot and dove. Could he have not thrust his foot in there? Possibly, but Arreaga, and Seattle, deserved better.
Going forward: Having a center back able to unlock our midfield in space without having to recycle possession around the back is hugely beneficial to the team, especially when paired with a more defensive left back.
Yeimar Gomez Andrade – 7 | Community – 7.2 (off 45’ for O’Neill)
While San Jose was happy to push possession away from Yeimar, he was happy to keep his play solid, compact, and safe. Although he had only 35 touches in his half of play, his distribution was mainly square, looking to find Arreaga and the defensive mids for pressure release in the back. On the flip side his defense was excellent, with 10 actions in a single half, often drifting in behind the right to cover for advanced attackers.
One thing I liked: Yeimar does a lot of little things on Seattle’s corner kicks that are starting to add up. In the 38th minute after a corner kick scramble, he had a deft little flick onto an onrushing Nico Lodeiro on the edge of the box that was a smooth pass and one most center backs would not even attempt, let alone convert. A 43rd minute Lodeiro cross nearly found him on the back post for a header that was just barely mistimed.
One thing I didn’t like: The announcers mentioned injury precaution, but I couldn’t find anything but rest as the reason he subbed off. While he does deserve rest, I would have liked to see him get more time with Arreaga, as I think their pairing has the most upside.
Going forward: There wasn’t a lot of hype when he was brought in, but if he keeps playing to this level, we may have to consider Emanuel Cecchini the real MVP.
Kelvin Leerdam – 9 | Community – 8.3 (off 58’ for A. Roldan)
Kelvin Leerdam has leveled up and he is full build now. His defense has always been steady, but as we have seen in the last few matches, when he gets on a roll there are few right backs in the league who have his attacking instincts and finishing prowess.
One thing I liked: His decision making was so perfect. Leerdam seamlessly dropped in behind YGA in the 14th minute to cover. A minute later after joining the attack he finished clean. In the 48th minute he combined a smart run forward and perfect cut back assist. Throughout the match he enabled Joevin Jones by perfectly understanding when and where to move and be, and it was magical.
One thing I didn’t like: Leerdam could have had an assist to Raúl Ruidíaz in the 9th minute and another goal of his own off a beautiful Nouhou cross in the 55th.
Going forward: Enjoy the ride, because Kelvin is a streaky scorer and he doesn’t look finished.
Cristian Roldan – 7 | Community – 7.3 (off 57’ for Delem)
Roldan dropped back into the central midfield and didn’t miss a beat. His chemistry with the players around him was excellent. It was great to watch Roldan and João Paulo swarm the center of the field defensively to create plays with hustle and then display technical touch and movement to transition into devastating attacks.
One thing I liked: Roldan is amazingly fit. A few days after looking dead on his feet he seemed to be the fastest to the ball against San Jose. Watching him sprint in the 28th minute to win a loose ball in the midfield was so impressive to see. He and João Paulo flew to the ball defensively and throttled any Earthquake possession in the attack.
One thing I didn’t like: Roldan takes a ton of knocks in every game and I was relieved to see him sub out. He took the hardest fouls in this match, and the only yellow given was for Andres Rios trying to break Cristian in half. Roldan has been durable but the amount of times he has hit the ground lately is worrying.
Going forward: I’m not sure what this means for Gustav Svensson, but Seattle has a nice problem on their hands with depth across all lines of the field right now.
João Paulo – 8 | Community – 8.1
João Paulo was unleashed in this match, finding an open game with active runners he could feed, and he showed exactly how lethal he can be with the ball at his feet. His passing map is vertical, attacking, and devastating with nearly every attempt, and he completed 89 percent within his 79 touches. He constantly played others into space with both long passes and incredibly stylish, intricate pass-and-move combinations with Raúl, Nico, and Joevin.
One thing I liked: Other than Raúl, there is likely no one else on the roster who could make the shot that JP scored on. Supporting an attack centrally into zone 14, João found an excellent Leerdam cross and didn’t even think about trapping (and walking into the goal which he may have been able to do), instead first-timing his shot into the left side netting. This requires a huge amount of touch and SJ keeper Daniel Vega had anything less-perfect saved. Coming from a defensive midfielder this was brilliant.
One thing I didn’t like: San Jose wasn’t good enough to take advantage, but a better team might be able to expose João’s defensive aggressiveness as he consistently double-teamed people on the width with Roldan, potentially leaving elsewhere exposed.
Going forward: Seattle having another midfielder who can finish that shot while creating and doing everything defensively that João Paulo does must scare the entire league.
Jordan Morris – 10 (MOTM) | Community – 9.2 (MOTM)
There were a few guys deserving of MOTM but in the end it came down to this: nearly every single time Morris touched the ball he not only created dangerous chances, he also produced tangible results. His stat line is absolutely absurd. On 40 touches he had: three shots (all on target), three key passes, 86 passing passing, 10 defensive actions, one goal, three assists. He was completely dominant and had two more goals saved by Vega with incredible plays. This was impeccable, perfect play from Morris in all facets of the game.
One thing I liked: You don’t have to be a ratings aficionado to appreciate Morris’ 4th minute gallop around the defense to score that showed his speed, attacking mindset, and finishing. Or to notice his assist in the 33rd minute that put Ruidíaz in on goal. Again, inverting from a vertical wide position, Jordan turned with his head up and played a gorgeous through ball that cut out three defenders and put Raúl in alone for goal number five.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 38th minute he was stuffed on a 1-v-1 and on the ensuing corner had his point-blank header stopped by Vega as well, and that’s what you do when a guy creates at least four goals by himself, you nitpick him for not getting six.
Going forward: I am not sure how much the 15 minutes extra rest he got last match helped, but this was next level Morris. While I don’t expect him to Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson the entire team every match, I’m not saying he won’t either.
Nicolás Lodeiro – 8 | Community – 8.4 (off 85’ for Atencio)
Nico may be underrated on this Sounders team, mostly because it’s so commonplace to see him do things that others can only dream of. While covering 98 percent of the field both offensively and defensively he also manages to drop 92 percent passing, dial up three key passes, link up play in the midfield, and directly unlock defense with his movement.
One thing I liked: Lodeiro is combining with Raúl and João Paulo (and this match Jones) to near perfection. Their ability to pass the ball to each other, move into space, and work through defensive obstacles looks effortless and created mayhem within the SJ man marking system. When he wasn’t linking up, Nico was diving into space and casually dribbling the keeper, tossing up an alley-oop for Raúl in the 12th.
One thing I didn’t like: People need to start finishing some of his incredible passes, so they get the credit they deserve. It’s hard seeing Nico dial up assist-worthy passes that teammates miss, and we need to be “hella greedy” to score them all.
Going forward: Nico, like Roldan, looked tired but a game ago. So much for that. His increased central passing connection with JP and Co. reminds me of our perfect little Spaniard and their ability to befuddle opponents similarly. You are missed V-Rod!
Joevin Jones – 9 | Community – 8.6
This is the best play I have seen from Joevin Jones in 112 Sounders matches. He was transcendent as an inverted right winger, drifting centrally to collect the ball, link with teammates, and find the perfect defense-unlocking pass. He did it all, gliding effortlessly into space time and again to create gaps and punish San Jose. One of the keys to breaking the Earthquakes down so thoroughly was Joevin, who played incredibly yet within himself and was hustling deep into the second half to make things happen.
One thing I liked: Two goals. Two assists. Gone was the tentative defender who sat on the ball and passed back to Frei. Instead Jones was assertive, diving inside to demand possession, turning aggressively toward goal and always looking dangerous from anywhere on the field. Joining to move to space and find others moving, it was an absolute joy to see this level of play from Jones. His pass in the 12th minute to put Nico through was world class to even recognize, let alone perform flawlessly.
One thing I didn’t like: Zero defensive actions in the second half after seven in the first showed a rather assertive lack of desire to keep a clean sheet.
Going forward: THIS. THIS GUY. This drifting central playmaker who can combine with Nico as well as see the through balls that release Morris and Ruidíaz, opening up the width for Leerdam to attack. This is next-level stuff and there’s no take backs. We need to see this effort every match. Sure, not all opponents will be this bad, but the bar has been raised, and this is the way to lean into Jones’ skill set.
Raúl Ruidíaz – 8 | Community – 8.9 (off 57’ for Bruin)
Similar to his attacking teammates, Raúl annihilated the San Jose team and stuffed the stat book. Playing only 56 minutes he still had two goals, two assists, and three key passes. He was everywhere, dropping deep to combine with Nico and JP, pulling center backs all over the field, stretching the defense and popping up in holes to score cleanly. If he hadn’t subbed, he might have had five.
One thing I liked: For all his jaw dropping stats, most impressive was Ruidíaz’s movement in support of teammates. He constantly forced San Jose defenders to mark him wide, or upfield, creating massive gaps in the defense. When Morris scored in the 4th Ruidíaz didn’t get an assist, but his run pulled three defenders away. His movement is so precise, and again in the 20th minute his spacing forced the Earthquakes onto a defensive island. This ability to create offense rewarded his teammates and himself with a few easy finishes, moving to the perfect spot to score.
One thing I didn’t like: Ruidíaz is checking to the ball a lot more lately, and his holdup is good, but not every team is going to follow him out of position. We shouldn’t expect our lone forward to also be a midfielder in transition as much as we have.
Going forward: Watching Raúl drift into space always teaches you about Newton’s Third Law. Ruidíaz has seven goals and he doesn’t seem to be stopping.
Shane O’Neill – 6 | Community – 6.5 (on 45’ for Yeimar)
O’Neill came into a 5-nil match at halftime and helped Seattle coast. He was credited with 41 touches and kept a tidy 88 percent completion rate to help close out the match defensively.
One thing I liked: Shane did a little more offensive passing against San Jose, as he attempted seven passes that bypassed the immediate line in front of him (completed four).
One thing I didn’t like: He only had two defensive actions in an entire half and the defense clearly suffered a drop in effectiveness after the break. Not all of this is on his shoulders, but on too many occasions he was inexplicably trailing the play, when defending a 7-nil lead.
Going forward: Shane is consistent and had a good outing for Seattle.
Will Bruin – 6 | Community – 6.3 (on 57’ for Ruidiaz)
Bruin gave San Jose a reprieve by subbing in for Ruidíaz early in the second half. He did fine, combining with teammates and getting 25 touches as he slid into the point of the attack. An 81 percent completion rate and a key pass were highlights for the Bear.
One thing I liked: In the 89th minute Bruin had some nice holdup. He has shown the ability to be a back-to-the-goal player whenever the Sounders have needed this from him, which is handy when you need an outlet from the back or a fulcrum to rotate around on offense.
One thing I didn’t like: Bruin missed a few chances to get others involved and while I don’t blame him when the team is up a touchdown, assists are cool too.
Going forward: Bruin is a proven commodity and is just one of a lot of depth Seattle has amassed.
Jordy Delem – 6 | Community – 6.2 (on 57’ for Roldan)
Delem came into the defensive midfield and looked strong. He only had 16 touches but completed his passes and clogged up passing lanes well. His defending shaded to the right to support and cover for O’Neill.
One thing I liked: This was a very clean passing performance from Delem, who had only a single missed attempt out of 16. He made quick, quality passes to teammates and played defense.
One thing I didn’t like: One of the things Jordy did was play much deeper than João, and this created some large gaps between the two defensive midfielders at times.
Going forward: Delem is consistently a strong defensive force, but there is a bit of positioning adjustment that needs to happen when paired with JP.
Alex Roldan –5 | Community – 6.2 (on 58’ for Leerdam)
Roldan the younger has become a trusted substitute, spelling Leerdam and contributing on both ends of the field. He had a nice long sub appearance and rewarded the staff with stellar 93 percent passing on the wing while combining with those around him in a solid outing.
One thing I liked: Alex deserves a lot of credit for playing well enough to earn minutes, thus freeing up Leerdam to be rested and productive. He has become a solid replacement-level right back and provides great depth for Seattle. In the offensive half he went 9/9 passing.
One thing I didn’t like: For all his service ability, right back is first and foremost defensive, and there were several times he was caught ball watching/chasing the play. I have confidence he can learn the role better, but he must improve his defensive positioning and engagement.
Going forward: All of Roldan’s mistakes came deep in the Sounders half and that absolutely can’t happen in a closer match. But the upside is clear; if he continues to develop, Alex looks poised to be an important role player.
Joshua Atencio – 5 | Community – 5.9 (on 85’ for Lodeiro)
It was good to see young Atencio play, and he looked at home in a defensive midfield spot next to Delem. In just a few minutes he touched the ball seven times, and was active and unafraid to get to where he needed to be to support teammates, while showing good ball control and field awareness.
One thing I liked: His vision and clean passing were easily noticed. He was a perfect 7/7 passing as he roamed from side to side and did just about everything right in his short time on the field.
One thing I didn’t like: A 90th minute miscommunication with Frei was a good learning experience.
Going forward: Atencio hasn’t settled in a spot between the back line or midfield, but his poise on the ball is exciting to watch wherever he plays.
Allen Chapman – 6 | Community – 4.5
You might think a 7-1 match would be easy to referee and you would be right. Still, this refereeing squad made some bad decisions.
One thing I liked: Warning Rios for his bad tackle in the 26th minute was a judgement call (instead of direct yellow) but immediately giving him a card on his next foul four minutes later was excellent follow up and that unicorn of an actual “last warning.”
One thing I didn’t like: Okay, so the game is 5-nil at half and you don’t give any stoppage, I get that as a “spirit of the game” thing. But these are professionals working their asses off and the PK call was unconscionable. DON’T. REF. THE. SCOREBOARD. Just stop. A foul is a foul no matter if the score is tied or the guy has a card or it’s in stoppage time or minute one. Conversely, a DIVE IS A DIVE and the dereliction of duty of VAR on that call still pisses me off. The idea that “oh its 7-0 who cares” is so LAZY. Frei cares. The back line cares. Do your job. Review the call, tell him it’s a clear dive and the only contact is Tommy Thompson stepping on Arreaga’s foot and attacking the ground with his face, and give the yellow for the dive and free kick to Frei. Instead, they quickly gave Wondo a free goal and stole a clean sheet from a Sounders team that worked hard to earn one.
Going forward: Chapman is usually a solid referee and did well to adjudicate an easy and fairly clean match, but Jorge Gonzalez should answer for that awful non-call.
San Jose Earthquakes MOTM
Wondo converted a dubious penalty to claim Man of the Match. More importantly, there was a worthwhile discussion in the ratings form comments that Daniel Vega, despite conceding seven should have been listed as a voting option. He had numerous saves to prevent the score being even more lopsided, including dealing with Morris’ breakaway in the 38th minute. So, we’ll credit him with the “other” votes, and a hard-earned second place trophy.
Oh yay, we play Portland for the 83rd time this year. Sweet. Can’t wait. We have shown we can (and should) beat them. But first LAFC, who look terrible lately. ¿Porque no los dos?