Hoping to continue their fine road form this season, Seattle battled a tough Rapids team to a 1-1 draw in Colorado. Seattle didn’t play well for long periods of time, but they leveraged some excellent bench depth to weather the pressure from the home team and brought on some attacking skill late. That resulted in the Sounders getting an equalizing goal and leaving with a deserved point. Seattle’s defense limited quality chances by the quality home team, but the Sounders again struggled to create much consistent pressure in offensive attacks.
Stefan Frei – 6 | Community – 6.4
Frei continues to limit opponent opportunities shielded by some “bend but don’t break” defense in front of him. He wasn’t credited with a single save; instead, he came off his line to catch speculative crosses and kept organized defensive angles to limit big chances.
One thing I liked: Colorado tried to take a quick free kick in the 90th minute. It wasn’t allowed by the ref, but Stefan still stuffed the shot, showing he can make the great individual save when called upon.
One thing I didn’t like: Seattle was consistently under pressure to varying degrees, and often it was because they weren’t able to control possession around the back. Frei contributed to this on several occasions by playing riskily and unnecessarily short.
Going forward: Frei will only get beat by quality chances, and Seattle won’t give those up very often. He continues to be a strong player on a strong team, and Seattle has conceded the fewest goals in MLS this season.
Nouhou – 6 | Community – 6.3
Nouhou returned to the starting lineup and had an up and down match. Tasked with defending against Rapids goal leader Michael Barrios, the Seattle left center back showed some rust.
One thing I liked: When he’s on, Nouhou is one of a few players in the league who can match Barrios with speed and power. In the 25th minute he showed this skill, jumping a wide run, physically dominating the Rapids player, and turning smoothly up field to transition possession forward.
One thing I didn’t like: When he’s not on, Nouhou is perhaps more susceptible to players with pace as he takes unnecessary risks, depending on athleticism to come through. That athleticism is not as consistent as at the beginning of the year, and in the 4th and 26th minutes Nouhou was badly beaten, as he was too aggressive and whiffed defensively.
Going forward: Nouhou, even not back to full power, is still our best option at left center back, and he’ll be dominant versus most players that opposing teams put against him. This weekend will be a good test of how much fitness he has and whether he can regain some of the best-11 play he displayed earlier this year.
Xavier Arreaga – 7 | Community – 6.5
Xavi was tasked with much of the possession work in the back, and he consistently got the ball under duress needing to find an expedient outlet or clearance. His 76 touches were second most on the team, and he led the team with nine important clearances.
One thing I liked: Arreaga was a spectacular 58/61 passing, constantly keeping possession for a team that struggled to do so for long periods of the match. This included a 54th minute gem of a pass over the top for a streaking Alex Roldan in behind the defense.
One thing I didn’t like: Fredy Montero had a golden chance to score a goal in the 44th minute and only the heroic defending of Arreaga prevented it.
Going forward: Arreaga struggles a few times each game defensively, but his consistent control and outlet passing from a central area are essential to Seattle’s possession-based and defense-first game plan.
Yeimar Gómez Andrade – 7 | Community – 6.7
Yeimar did well to support a struggling right defense in the first half, which was a big focus for Colorado. As a result, he had an overwhelming majority of the Sounders touches, a massive 94, almost 20 more than anyone else on his team. He managed a respectable 88 percent completion rate with the ball, finding mostly safe and consistent passes without forcing the ball.
One thing I liked: Yeimar in the 28th and 38th minutes slid across to show Alex how to defend the wide areas, getting his broad body in between Jonathan Lewis and easily turning possession back to Seattle.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 3rd minute YGA was beaten in the corner defending, one of the few times a player has won a 1-v-1 against him.
Going forward: Yeimar and A-Rold remain an exceptionally strong right-side pairing; they tend to give up a few dangerous looking opportunities, but it’s rare that anything comes from these chances.
Jimmy Medranda – 6 | Community – 6.3 (off 75’ for Chú)
Jimmy was quiet in this match, turning distributor rather than direct goal scorer. He did add some necessary defense down the left and created some of the best chances for Seattle with his wide play. Defensively, he led the team with three tackles and added three interceptions as well in strong support of the midfield.
One thing I liked: A 43rd minute cross was excellent, finding a teammate and creating one of his team-high two key passes. Nine duels led the team in a balanced effort.
One thing I didn’t like: No banger goals against Colorado for Medranda. There were gaps in the wide corners for Seattle to attack, especially in the first half. Forcing some play into those areas would have included Jimmy more and taken some pressure off an at times beleaguered defensive width.
Going forward: Medranda has been a great option on the left, offering steady defensive presence, a cultured service when he gets forward, and the occasional spectacular goal-direct play. This combination fits well with the movement and positioning of the Sounders, but Jimmy needs to be more assertive in a match like this, which was begging for Seattle aggression throughout the first half.
Josh Atencio – 5 | Community – 5.9 (off 69’ for Rowe)
Atencio put in a good effort centrally. He helped shelter the back line that was at times under a lot of pressure and only able to push the pressure wide.
One thing I liked: His 43rd minute dribble forward was excellent. Recognizing the space, he took two assertive touches and was fouled before he could penetrate further. This is a great example of a growth point for him to continue to develop.
One thing I didn’t like: Only 31 touches and zero duels won would indicate Atencio wasn’t active. On the contrary, he was very active, just not effective at imposing his will on the match. Instead, he was more reactive, often chasing the play and not involved in key moments.
Going forward: Josh remains a strong option next to João Paulo, but his defensive numbers are concerning. If he doesn’t contribute a lot centrally, it forces more of the workload to teammates around him. A break this weekend may do him well against a strong midfield.
João Paulo – 7 | Community – 6.9
As usual, João Paulo was the best midfielder in the game, but he had a muted impact against Colorado. Tasked with defending all the way into the corners at times, JP was also the main arbiter of transitioning through the midfield, forcing the Brazilian to try to be everywhere at once. He ended with a shot, a key pass, and a nearly 80 percent completion rate from a mostly deep-lying position.
One thing I liked: In the 54th minute João almost did it again, refusing to be denied as he nearly ran through the entire Colorado defense. Only an uncalled shirt pull stopped him from scoring another wondergoal.
One thing I didn’t like: Multiple center backs got more touches than he did and asking JP to do everything wasn’t the answer.
Going forward: JP is somehow going to have to bring more energy again this weekend, as he is the only DP on the team still standing, and we expect he’ll play his grueling style three days in a week. I don’t doubt he can do it.
Alex Roldan – 5 | Community – 5.6
Alex Roldan returned to the lineup on the right side and struggled to get back into the vibe of the Sounders gameplay. A little disconnected on offense, he was also pushed back on his heels defensively as Colorado attacker Jonathan Lewis tortured Alex down the wing. Going forward, Alex contributed a single key pass in a tough return to starting.
One thing I liked: In the 78th minute it was Alex who followed the play well, clearing a potential goal from Colorado off the line. This heads-up defending was part of a performance where Roldan, even while struggling, never quit and kept involved.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 5th, 7th, and 12th minutes, Lewis completely befuddled Roldan, gliding past the Sounder wingback and finding offensive opportunities nearly every time up the field. Offensively, his lack of service quality in the 62nd and 77th hurt two of the best Sounders attacks.
Going forward: Seattle again bent but didn’t break down the right side, and Alex will need to return to the defensive form he exhibited earlier this year if he wants to continue to start. The Sounders have a lot of flexible pieces down the right side.
Cristian Roldan – 6 | Community – 6.6
Cristian Roldan was mediocre for a lot of the game. He was missing from the attack, unable to push forward into the open corners and missing his usual burst of speed and work rate into the channels. When Seattle desperately needed it, however, Cristian popped up in the box to score an equalizing goal, ensuring the Sounders an important road point.
One thing I liked: Although ineffective most of the match, Roldan still willed himself to two shots, two key passes, and the all-important goal. Reading the play perfectly, Cristian got forward in support of Chú and put away his fifth goal in six matches.
One thing I didn’t like: I wondered if Cristian was tired. Particularly in the 70th and 76th minutes, he looked slow, exhausted, and lacked his usual effort centrally.
Going forward: Soccer is a game of moments and Roldan was big in the moment when Seattle needed it. He hasn’t looked great since returning from international play, but he does so many little things even while struggling that he’s an essential piece of every lineup.
Nicolas Benezet – 5 | Community – 6.0 (off 69’ for Bruin)
Benezet got the start across from Roldan in an attacking midfield spot and worked hard with little return. Unlike his last few appearances, he struggled to find the ball in attacking areas, with 25 mostly mundane touches and a single shot in his 68-minute stint.
One thing I liked: Benezet was clearly excited to play in Colorado and came out with lots of energy. He had a nice connection in the 32nd minute but missed his shot, failing to score a strong chance against the team that gave up on him.
One thing I didn’t like: Unlike prior appearances, Nico wasn’t a catalyst for direct play, unable to connect with Medranda into the corners and was suffocated by the lack of depth in the attacking third.
Going forward: Benezet is a creative player, but didn’t find the space he needed to showcase that in tough road conditions midweek. He is an excellent change of pace option but looks to need someone to stretch the field for his tactical movement to pay off.
Fredy Montero – 5 | Community – 6.0 (off 83’ for O’Neill)
Montero worked hard up front but looked a bit out of place with Seattle’s tactical formation. Consistently dropping into a false nine position and holding up the ball, Seattle didn’t have (or didn’t utilize) the wide diagonal space his movement created. Fredy did find some chances through possession in the attacking third on the occasions that the Sounders were able to hold the ball high.
One thing I liked: Fredy led the team with four shots and scored a great (offsides) goal. He was active when he found the ball high up the field and could connect with wide runners, and he was barely off on a 33rd minute header in great space.
One thing I didn’t like: With Fredy dropping deep to help possession, Seattle forced its team into a compact, immobile block. They desperately needed someone to play higher, stretch the defense, and/or run into the diagonal space Colorado was conceding, and unfortunately this isn’t Fredy’s game.
Going forward: Fredy is a solid option as a holdup forward, but plays there similarly to when he’s playing an attacking midfield position. Without the advanced attacker threat, he needs more speed and direct aggressiveness from the wings to accentuate his creation ability.
Will Bruin – 5 | Community – 5.6 (on 69’ for Benezet)
Bruin entered and didn’t do much. Brought on to chase a goal and then hold on, Seattle did both.
One thing I liked: 100 percent passing.
One thing I didn’t like: I am not sure how it’s possible, but Will was only credited with three touches. In 26 minutes. Woof.
Going forward: Bruin might have been a better option at forward as he at least tries to run in behind and would have stretched the defense. He’ll likely do that exact thing this weekend.
Kelyn Rowe – 5 | Community – 5.6 (on 69’ for Atencio)
Rowe was a great addition, adding connectivity and defensive bite in the midfield. His entrance gave Seattle more midfield presence and energy, which had lagged.
One thing I liked: In the 94th minute with Nouhou caught up field, an alert Rowe dropped back to the left back position and helped stymie a late Rapids attack. This was excellent recognition for a guy to go where he was needed.
One thing I didn’t like: Shortly after coming on, Kelyn lost possession centrally, spurring Colorado forward into the gap behind him.
Going forward: Rowe showed he is still in contention to start matches centrally, being part of a resurgent midfield after his inclusion.
Léo Chú – 6 (MOTM) | Community – 7.2 (MOTM) (on 75’ for Medranda)
Chú wasn’t my highest rated player, but he was clearly Man of the Match for Seattle, entering and completely changing their shape and effectiveness. His ability to find the tactical holes in the defense that were apparent much of the match was combined with a physical skillset that let him turn the match on its head. He only had 10 touches but was magical each time he found the ball.
One thing I liked: Seattle scored off an inside out, diagonal run to the open space wide that was wanting most of the match. Léo glided into the attack past multiple opponents, relying on slick change of pace and subtle yet agile directional change rather than pure pace. Opening a gap with his head up, Chú found a perfect cross for the tying assist.
One thing I didn’t like: Chú nearly did it again, and only some last ditch defending stopped him from orchestrating the entire comeback.
Going forward: Léo Chú remains an incredibly effective substitute, who is somehow both faster and slower than you expect, and all he does is create goals. It’s hard to see where his perfect position is in this iteration of the Sounders, but his production is forcing more playing time game over game.
Shane O’Neill – 5 | Community – 5.9 (on 83’ for Montero)
Shane came in to make the wipers go swish swish swish, the horn go beep beep beep, and most importantly, park the bus. Seattle held on to the road point.
One thing I liked: O’Neill was credited with a clearance and contributed to some last-ditch defensive work that held onto the result.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 88th minute Shane randomly charged 30 yards forward and cleaned out an opponent on the sideline, earning an unnecessary yellow card.
Going forward: Shane coming on late shouldn’t have been as surprising as it was, and you can’t argue with the result. He remains a solid defensive option in game states like this.
Drew Fischer – 5 | Community – 5.6
Fischer again struggled to maintain control of a Sounders match, making infuriating calls one after another. His inconsistency in advantage calls, fouls, and yellow cards was enough to force players into physical confrontations and contributed to a choppy and sluggish match.
One thing I liked: In the 17th minute he got the offsides call right.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 41st and 53rd minute Colorado purposely stopped breaks with fouls, and neither time got a yellow for this tactical foul, yet Medranda got an instant card for a 50/50 tackle. Who knows?
Going forward: I didn’t want to jinx it prior to the match by telling people how bad he had been for the Sounders this year, and unfortunately, he lived down to his previous standard.
Colorado Rapids MOTM
Dominique Badji didn’t do much, but did score the goal. It looked like the match-winner for all of 15 minutes.
Midweek points are good, especially if they’re part of 7-point weeks.