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Seattle Sounders vs. 2020: End-of-season player ratings, #30-#26

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Among others, a wide player with a penchant for creating (but also missing) great scoring opportunities.

This was one of the strangest years and subsequently weirdest Sounders seasons ever. Throughout last year I continued to rate each player for every match. This series of articles will present a recap of Realio’s Ratings for 2020, with players ranked in reverse order from 30 to 1. The ranking is from all MLS matches they played in this season, and I’ve included thoughts on each player going forward.

Please feel free to ask if you want more in-depth data on these players, as I have game-by-game breakdowns, historical data on some players for five-plus years, and tons of other info if you have specific questions.

Please keep in mind a few things when looking at these recaps:

  • Ratings aren’t the only way to judge a player, and these should not be considered “official.” It’s merely how these players came out in my ratings for the season. While higher ranking players are likely better performers, using ratings to say “X player is better than Y” is not the full picture. There are tons of variables that go into ranking different players, so please take them with the requisite grain (or grains) of salt.
  • Sample size matters. A lot. Two late-game appearances where a player didn’t look completely out of touch may get him a cumulative 6 rating, but another guy who played 20 games and got a 5.9 may be a better player and more valuable to the team. Please consider how much some guys played and realize how sample size can skew both directions. Subs tend to start lower on the scale, and some players who played well but only as subs may be ranked lower than you expect and vice versa.

#30 Trey Muse

Realio’s rating: 0.00 in 0 appearances

Community rating: N/A

MOTM = 0 High = 0 Low = 0

Because he didn’t have a first team appearance, I asked resident Defiance expert Tim Foss to talk about Muse. Here are his thoughts:

Trey Muse played two games in 2020, both with Tacoma Defiance at the start of the season, and his side lost by a combined score of 2-5 over the course of those two games. The results weren’t exactly his fault, but it’s certainly difficult to take confidence from them. The greater concern for Muse from the 2020 season wasn’t the results, but rather the concussions that kept him from even appearing on the bench for the Seattle Sounders for stretches. Concussions are scary, and concussions that keep a player out for weeks at a time, especially so. The hope is that in 2021, Muse will stay healthy and play as the starting goalkeeper for Tacoma Defiance, but staying healthy is the top priority.

#29 Alfonso Ocampo-Chavez

Realio’s rating: 0.00 in 0 appearances

Community rating: N/A

MOTM = 0 High = 0 Low = 0

Because he didn’t have a first team appearance, I asked resident Defiance expert Tim Foss to talk about AOC. Here are his thoughts:

The last two seasons have shown that Ocampo-Chavez’s performances are highly dependent on him being settled and in rhythm with the players around him. In 2020 he appeared set to spend much of the season as a regular starter with Tacoma Defiance, starting in their season opener and appearing as a late sub in the final game before everything shut down. He joined Seattle for the MLS is Back tournament but couldn’t find his way onto the field, then was loaned back down to Tacoma when the team returned. After four substitute appearances, Ocampo-Chavez started six of Tacoma’s last seven games, contributing a lovely goal and two assists while proving to be a consistent threat with his passing and movement, and performing well both on the wing and as a lone forward. He is likely best served by spending a large part of 2021 with Tacoma, where he’s certain to get playing time, but his continued growth and ability to handle physicality at the USL level bodes well for his future.

#28 Stefan Cleveland

Realio’s rating: 0.00 in 0 appearances

Community rating: N/A

MOTM = 0 High = 0 Low = 0

Because he didn’t have a first team appearance, I asked resident Defiance expert Tim Foss to talk about Cleveland. Here are his thoughts:

The pandemic was hard for plenty of players, but it may have had the smallest impact, as far as playing time is concerned, on Seattle’s backup goalkeeper, Stefan Cleveland. His role within the Sounders’ keeper group is mainly to act as a backup on the game day roster in case of injury, provide competition and a body in training, and maybe step in for early US Open Cup games. Without the Cup, he didn’t get any game time, so if he sticks around, the hope for 2021 is that he’ll see a game or two in a US Open Cup run.

Realio’s note: Two of the three players who didn’t see any time were keepers. This position is one of the most resilient, strong positions in the organization, and plenty of credit should go to their coach, Tommy Dutra, who consistently had his guys prepped, healthy, fit, and performing at a high level in every MLS performance. Fans are rightfully worried about Brian Schmetzer getting a new contract, but let’s not forget his assistants who deserve plenty of credit, too. #re-signTommyDutra

#27 Brad Smith

Realio’s rating: 4.89 in 9 appearances

Community rating: 5.82

Regular Season: 4.80 in 5 appearances — Playoffs: 5.00 in 4 appearances

MOTM = 0 High = 6 Low = 4

Smith returned to Seattle during the late spring window after leaving in the offseason. Expected to be a boost to the team, he was slow to get into game fitness and never really found his form as a Sounder in 2020. His integration socially into the team was much smoother than his physical game play, but he offered a change of tactics on the left as needed for the late season and playoff push.

What I liked: There were a few flashes of the attacking skill he can provide from the left and that is why he appeared in all four playoff matches this season. Even in short appearances, Smith was able to earn corners and a few key passes, while limiting the defensive gaffes that characterized his first Seattle stint.

What I didn’t like: Smith is supposed to be a highly paid European player, but we rarely, if ever, saw anything that impressed. He was frighteningly average, with his best appearance a 20-minute shift in the Western Conference Final, hardly an integral piece of the team that was hoped for upon his return to Seattle.

Moving forward: Brad clearly missed playing behind V-Rod and never found his form supporting Jordan Morris on the left. Much of that can be attributed to lack of consistent playing time (or subbing in on the wing instead of fullback), but Smith was repeatedly given chances to play at the end of the season and playoffs and failed to make the left back job his. He also didn’t show enough versatility as a winger to make that a strong option, which leaves him down the depth chart in multiple positions. In 2021, Smith will likely start training as the backup to Nouhou, and he’ll need to work hard to prove otherwise.

#26 Miguel Ibarra

Realio’s rating: 4.92 in 12 appearances

Community rating: 4.92

MOTM = 0 High = 6 Low = 4

Miguel Ibarra was an intriguing pickup for Seattle in the offseason: a proven wide player who had veteran league experience and is the kind of reclamation project that has typically done well for the Sounders. A known MLS quantity, he struggled to find success in Seattle, eventually becoming a garbage time sub.

What I liked: You could see early on what Seattle liked about Ibarra. He got into great scoring positions in his first few appearances, showing an innate ability to drop into the back side of plays and find the ball.

What I didn’t like: While Miguel found great chances early in the season, he fantastically blundered them, missing several open nets. On multiple occasions his play prevented Seattle from achieving a better result. In a season where .01 winning percentage points was the difference between hosting MLS Cup or travelling, failing to score at all with an xG of 2.4 for the season was huge.

Moving forward: Without capitalizing on his chances, by the end of the year Ibarra was just taking time better spent on younger players. With a single goal in his last two years of professional soccer, his minutes seem much better spent elsewhere on the roster.