Seattle continued their stellar road form in 2021 with a comprehensive away match versus the San Jose Earthquakes. Scoring all four goals in a 3-1 win, the Sounders were dominant across the field, building quality chances throughout and limiting the home team to a few half chances. Coach Schmetzer reaped the benefits of a deep roster, utilizing the confidence born from consistent squad rotation to combine a mix of youth, veteran players, and an MLS debut to cruise to a midweek three points.
Stefan Frei – 6 | Community – 6.8
Frei earned three saves, although San Jose didn’t test him for most of the match. He was able to deal with 30 innocuous touches, clearing long and looking to the width for most of his distribution.
One thing I liked: In stoppage time Frei came out to catch in traffic and didn’t get undercut by a teammate.
One thing I didn’t like: San Jose couldn’t score on Seattle, but Seattle did, ruining Frei’s shutout.
Going forward: If the defense plays this well in front of Stef and his own guys stop shooting at him, he will improve on a rather mundane three shutouts this year.
Shane O’Neill – 6 | Community – 5.7
Shane started on the left of the defense and had a nice shift, actively pushing high to support a vigorous attack. He ended the match with 86 percent passing and added 10 defensive actions.
One thing I liked: Shane going forward vertically is an entire mood, charging up the left and tackling and interchanging with the offense in front of him. His pressure in the 25th minute earned a turnover that was immediately converted into the first Seattle goal.
One thing I didn’t like: Shane flat footed or backpedaling is a different mood entirely, and not in a good way. He also scored on Frei, a deft chip over his keeper that gave San Jose a tiny bit of hope.
Going forward: Shane added “attacking left back” to his resume and showed off his versatility to move central at half time and defend from the middle. He remains a great depth piece.
Xavier Arreaga – 6 | Community – 6.6 (off 46’ for Nouhou)
Xavi was strong centrally, playing from the back and helping keep a clean sheet before getting some rest at halftime. He did everything right, defending neatly and passing strong, with a fantastic 92 percent completion rate.
One thing I liked: In the 33rd minute San Jose thought they had some room in the box only to be denied by a hustling Arreaga who slid across and blocked the play out for a corner.
One thing I didn’t like: With Yeimar on yellow card accumulation, I was surprised to see Xavi as the sub at half.
Going forward: Resting Arreaga for a big home match this weekend was a smart move, and he has been excellent in the second half of the season for Seattle. Now firmly the starter in the center of the defense, he has grown into the role as both a defensive leader and a key facilitator from the back.
Yeimar Gómez Andrade – 8 | Community – 7.4
Yeimar just did more near-perfect defending and had an incredible 11 clearances. Whenever San Jose tested his side, he consistently won individual duels and played perfect backside defense, sliding over to support as necessary.
One thing I liked: In the 2nd minute Benji Kikanovic tried to go around Yeimar with pace and quickly found out what the rest of the league already knows: that’s a losing choice. YGA ushered him out with a smile, quickly catching him and imposing his body between the naïve opponent and the goal.
One thing I didn’t like: There was at least one of his customary wonky passes, missing open teammates forward.
Going forward: Yeimar is a monster on the right and showed he can combine with a revolving door of young and old around him and still dominate. He will need to be cognizant of his card accumulation going forward.
Jimmy Medranda – 7 | Community – 6.6 (off 72’ for Cissoko)
Medranda quietly went about his business, filling up the stat sheet with quality work on both sides of the ball. His assist in the 49th minute was the culmination of strong movement and smart heads-up passing, cutting a perfect cross for Cristian Roldan to finish off.
One thing I liked: His assist was great, but even more impressive was a defensive play two minutes prior as Jimmy charged across the field to make a great tackle centrally, displaying range, awareness, and defensive instincts.
One thing I didn’t like: Medranda showed nice two-way play in this match, and it was scary to see him leave with a possible injury after defending on the backside of a crossing play.
Going forward: Jimmy showed very consistent defensive work and chipped in with strong combination play on the left. If he is out for any length of time, that could be an issue for Seattle, as his presence on the defensive side is part of the Sounders ethos.
Josh Atencio – 7 | Community – 6.9 (off 46’ for João Paulo)
Atencio was excellent again, starting his second match in a matter of days and again displaying strong link up play and positional defense. Drifting to the left channel, Josh, Jimmy, and Fredy were excellent in combining to move the ball quickly around and up the left wing, something that has been absent from Sounders matches with any consistency.
One thing I liked: After Josh found a pass in the center of the pitch, he didn’t hesitate to let one fly in the 12th minute, putting a strong shot on goal and forcing a save.
One thing I didn’t like: Once again Atencio was active centrally but wasn’t a physical presence defending. With JP not starting, the Sounders could have used more than Josh’s zero-tackle effort.
Going forward: Atencio showed improvement and an ability to combine well with someone besides João Paulo, which could be enormous for future seasons. He seems to be building in confidence as a central facilitator and continues to show improvement in positioning and decision making.
Danny Leyva – 7 | Community – 6.6
Schmetzer’s genius was demonstrated when Leyva, hot off a confidence-inspiring substitution in a pivotal match one game ago, returned to the starting lineup and was fantastic. Eighty-eight percent passing, 54 touches, a shot, and two interceptions, Danny was excellent in a central defensive pairing that is good for the future and for now.
One thing I liked: This match looked comfortable for Leyva, who floated naturally around the field and earned fouls from his positioning on several occasions. His defensive work rate and pressure earned a turnover that resulted in the third Seattle goal, and Danny didn’t hesitate to first-time a volley chance in the 68th which forced a save.
One thing I didn’t like: Leyva was beaten badly in the 14th minute as his speed deficit was exposed.
Going forward: As bad as the Janny Letencio (work in progress) midfield has looked at times, against San Jose they looked excellent. If these two can continue to develop both separately and together, there is nothing but high upside for each, and the potential combination is exciting.
Kelyn Rowe – 6 | Community – 6.3
Rowe played on the right, giving Alex Roldan a breather, and filled in okay. His side was active throughout the match, with Kelyn struggling at times but always managing to combine with Yeimar to deny any San Jose success.
One thing I liked: Two tackles, three interceptions and two clearances were part of a busy defensive effort that bent but didn’t break.
One thing I didn’t like: Rowe didn’t show much going forward, rarely getting involved in the attack, and his 77 percent passing included a few howlers.
Going forward: Kelyn has shown he is an effective outside back in this formation for Seattle, and while he doesn’t always look great out there, Seattle almost always wins when he does.
Cristian Roldan – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 7.9 (off 82’ for Alex Roldan)
Cristian does it all, dominating both sides of the field, and San Jose had no answers for his movement and tenacity. A goal and an assist on two shots and an earned PK were combined with multiple interceptions defensively, as Roldan was a menace across the field behind Raúl Ruidíaz and darting into both corners.
One thing I liked: Roldan did a ton of great work in this match, but the veteran play to score his goal deserves recognition. Making a right backside run in support of some Medranda/Chú pace up the left, Cristian effectively “boxed out” the defender. Getting in front of him, slowing down to stay onside but also keeping his body in between the defender and the goal, Roldan finished cleanly.
One thing I didn’t like: It was a long touch from Roldan that jumpstarted the counterattack that ended with O’Neill finishing past Frei.
Going forward: Seattle’s attack is dynamic, unique, and completely dominant when Cristian plays the way he has the last two matches. His movement, ability to read the play, win individual battles, and finish has been in full display, complementing the work of everyone around him. Please don’t be hurt.
Fredy Montero – 6 | Community – 6.4
Fredy played back a line in San Jose, dropping in to support the kids in central midfield. As a catalyst, he was excellent in buildup play, but struggled a bit to find his own shot, and a few mistakes prevented him from getting on the scoresheet. Three shots and a rough 60 percent passing rate was all he could muster personally, but he facilitated a lot of excellent play, especially after the pace of Chú was introduced.
One thing I liked: Early on Montero, Atencio, and Medranda had much joy torturing Judson on the left wing. It was Fredy’s holdup play and nifty touches that consistently saw Seattle charging up the left into space.
One thing I didn’t like: Twice, in the 64th and 88th minutes, Fredy had the ball centrally and missed a backside run from Léo Chú that would have put the new Sounder in alone on goal had he found the through ball.
Going forward: Fredy didn’t get on the scoresheet but nearly had the most touches on the team, continually moving around the midfield to facilitate. With him connecting vertically to the movement of Raúl and Cristian, Seattle looked very dangerous.
Raúl Ruidíaz – 7 | Community – 8.1 (MOTM) (off 46’ for Léo Chú)
Raúl was relentless against San Jose, continually drifting into space before charging into the box to challenge the goal. Two shots (both on goal) and a key pass added up to multiple goals for a striker who looked poised to score nearly every time he touched the ball. Only a hamstring issue right before half was able to slow him down.
One thing I liked: After a few uncharacteristic misses in the last few matches, Raúl assertively finished a 25th minute goal after dribbling into the box. Even more forceful was his penalty take, leaving the keeper no chance. This came after his beautiful pass put Roldan in on goal, creating the foul.
One thing I didn’t like: A 21st minute nutmeg of a defender was just rude. That dude has a family, man.
Going forward: Let’s hope that immediately subbing Ruidíaz off after his hamstring twinged was enough to prevent any lasting damage. Even though this team has many scoring threats, it’s been the Raúl show this season, and any long-term loss of this dynamic goal scorer would be rough.
Nouhou – 6 | Community – 6.8 (on 46’ for Arreaga)
Nouhou played a half and did all the Nouhou stuff we know and love. Big tackles, flailing arms, lockdown defense, rampaging runs — it was all there.
One thing I liked: After being constantly shut down by Yeimar, San Jose striker Cade Cowell tried the left side of the Sounders defense. Nouhou promptly sat him down three times in a row with a combination of block, sliding, and shoulder tackles, owning him in the 78th, 89th, and 91st minutes.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 58th minute Marcos López won a header in behind Nouhou.
Going forward: Nouhou looks to be back, which is fantastic news for Sounders fans and bad news for anyone who hates fun.
João Paulo – 6 | Community – 7.1 (on 46’ for Atencio)
João Paulo entered at halftime to combine with Leyva and immediately showed his tenacity, charging around tackling the ball and releasing runners up field. His 42 touches were punctuated with some long switches and surrounding crunching tackles centrally.
One thing I liked: Seattle nearly scored in the 52nd minute after some nice running by Chú who missed Fredy/Cristian. That play happened because JP earned possession on the left sideline and dropped a nifty backheel that kept the ball in play for Medranda.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 77th minute JP led a massive three-on-one break from a corner kick counterattack and was unable to find the right pass, with the huge scoring chance fizzling out.
Going forward: João got some exercise and worked on his relationship with Leyva centrally and Chú in front of him. He is the kind of player who always wants to play, so getting him a little time this match likely sets him up perfectly for the weekend.
Léo Chú – 6 | Community – 6.7 (on 46’ for Ruidíaz)
Chú got his first MLS runout and looked the part. One hundred percent passing, multiple defensive actions, what’s not to like?
One thing I liked: In the 88th minute Léo casually controlled a high JP clearance, turned on his man, ran a give and go and turned on the jets, in clean on goal had the pass been better.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 52nd minute after some hard work from JP and Medranda, Chú burst into the attack. First, he missed the early pass to a wide open Montero, then his ball to Roldan was a bit behind him, and the chance went wanting.
Going forward: Léo Chú looks like a lot of fun. Clearly amped up, he has both the raw speed and fluid movement that is in-your-face exciting, but also has some quiet technical ability that stands out. His defensive work was fine, and positioning within the offense is something to watch as he likely continues to get time off the bench.
Abdoulaye Cissoko – 5 | Community – 5.7 (on 72’ for Medranda)
Cissoko played, getting some time on the left, pushing Nouhou into the wingback role. He had 13 very boring touches.
One thing I liked: Seventy-eight percent passing, no errors, and a shutout when he was on the field.
One thing I didn’t like: The combination of Cissoko and Nouhou was somewhat redundant on the left.
Going forward: All he did was exactly what was needed, and his side was not really threatened in his time on the field. Defensive efforts like this will continue to make him a valuable depth piece.
Alex Roldan – 5 | Community – 5.9 (on 82’ for Cristian Roldan)
Will Bruin Alex Roldan subbed into the match late, as his brother picked up a knock. This changed the substitution pattern some, but Alex entered prepared and helped finish out the match.
One thing I liked: Feisty Alex Roldan is fun, and he was getting spicy with a few San Jose players after entering.
One thing I didn’t like: A 94th minute weak backside header over Alex resulted in one of San Jose’s few shots on goal.
Going forward: Alex wasn’t supposed to play but all he did was enter, complete all his passes, and do the kind of job we expect when he starts, which is where he should remain.
Allen Chapman – 7 | Community – 5.5
Chapman did a good job, adjudicating an intense match played on a crummy and dangerous field. He kept control of the game, and while cards were used sparingly, his fouls made sense and he was quick to use the whistle when necessary.
One thing I liked: In the 25th minute Chapman had the whistle in his mouth not once but twice as both Atencio and Leyva were fouled. Each time he allowed advantage, and Seattle scored.
One thing I didn’t like: Although he got touched, I don’t mind the simulation card for Ruidíaz. I also appreciated how quickly and decisively he called the penalty.
Going forward: This was one of the better refereeing jobs we have seen lately, and while there were plenty of issues, the match was kept clean, and most calls made sense. That’s a win with MLS referees this year.
San Jose MOTM
“Other,” which I can only assume was standing in for “Shane O’Neill’s own goal,” won Man of the Match. That probably gives a decent indication of where San Jose was at for this one.
Unlike their usual standard, Seattle has struggled at home this season, but a few wins in a row will blow that narrative out of the water. Let’s do that.