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Seattle Sounders vs. Colorado Rapids: Player ratings

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A thorough dismantling by João Paulo and co.

Playing one of the best teams in the league on short rest, the Sounders promptly came out and throttled the Colorado Rapids. Seattle scored in the first five minutes and twice more by half, riding this 3-0 halftime score to the end of the match. The second half was a testy affair, lowlighted by a red card for the Rapids, who played physically, were clearly off balance, and had few answers for the superior Sounders’ technical skill. Smart subs rested key players, and Seattle kept the clean sheet and opened another lead in the conference.


Goalkeeper

Stefan Frei – 7 | Community – 7.3

Frei continued his excellent season with another shutout, this time on the back of four saves and some excellent defending in front of him. He remains stout with saves but also steady and predictable with his feet, spraying the ball around and being a safety net to drop to as needed.

One thing I liked: Stef’s composure is contagious, and the entire back line handled what few hiccups they had with general calm. An 11th minute punch and 32nd minute push of a shot over the bar complemented a 43rd minute catch and dealing with a tough back pass 20 minutes later.

One thing I didn’t like: In the 66th minute Frei came off his line to catch and fumbled the ball a bit, bumping into a teammate before reclaiming possession.

Going forward: Seattle plays better with Frei back there, even if he isn’t tasked to make a ton of acrobatic saves. His leadership and positioning are essential to keeping a strong defensive unit in front of him directed competently.

Defense

Nouhou – 7 | Community – 6.4

Nouhou started behind Jimmy Medranda and their combination on the left was a catalyst for the entire team. These two hadn’t had a lot of run together, but especially in the first half, they showed they can be a potent two-way combination. Nouhou was clean with the ball, showcasing a 92 percent completion rate, combining well both up the wing and centrally as needed.

One thing I liked: Colorado has a lot of pace on the wings, and Nouhou did well to limit the Rapids down his width, even while Seattle was pushing numbers high into the attack. His pace prevented multiple counterattack attempts.

One thing I didn’t like: Not known for his dribbling skills, Nouhou proved this reputation when attempting to get around Michael Barrios in the 34th minute and getting his pocket picked. Luckily his teammates bailed him out.

Going forward: Nouhou is quickly approaching his defensive best from earlier this season, once again making his usual hard tackles and strong recovery runs. There is some distance to go before he is as dominant as prior, but the growth each match as he returns from injury is promising. Getting these three starting center backs to their best form going into the postseason should be a priority.

Xavier Arreaga – 8 | Community – 7.5 (off 78’ for Cissoko)

Arreaga has been immense since returning from international play, consistently playing at a high level and anchoring the backline centrally. This was one of his best performances of the season, showcasing his complete skills and ability to defend with tenacity and range while still offering tremendous vision and distribution centrally. He had a spectacular 95 percent completion rate, spraying the ball wide and breaking lines with his deft passing touch, including starting the second goalscoring sequence.

One thing I liked: Every time Colorado looked to break through on goal, Xavi popped up to deny them, often then turning this play into an attacking chance in the other direction. In the 5th minute he stepped forward to steal possession, in the 27th he saved a ball off the line that was goal bound, and in the 35th he came across to deny Barrios on a clear goalscoring chance.

One thing I didn’t like: The lone Arreaga mistake was a blind 66th minute back pass that was nearly stolen and converted by Colorado.

Going forward: With many defensive efforts gaining deserved plaudits for Seattle this season, Arreaga has quietly raised his level and adds a mix of defense and offense that we haven’t had from a central defender. Getting these three starting center backs to their best form going into the postseason should be a priority.

Yeimar Gómez Andrade – 7 | Community – 6.9

Yeimar started against Colorado and used his pace to keep up with Barrios down the wing for much of the match. He led the team with six clearances, added in a few tackles and as usual was instrumental in keeping Colorado off the scoresheet, blending well with teammates to lock down his side.

One thing I liked: YGA did a lot of small things that I appreciated in this match, whether it was casually escorting Colorado players wide, using his speed to deny anything in behind, or displaying stellar range and communication to cross the field in support of teammates.

One thing I didn’t like: The only thing preventing Yeimar from being an absolute elite defender is his passing, and a 27th minute ball was awful, requiring Xavi to clean up.

Going forward: Yeimar casually had a quiet game, part of a shutout against a good team, and he allowed some of his defensive teammates to get more of the headlines this week. Getting these three starting center backs to their best form going into the postseason should be a priority.

Defensive Midfield

Jimmy Medranda – 8 | Community – 7.9 (off 69’ for O’Neill)

Medranda was a menace on the left side, bringing an excellent complete game that highlighted both his defensive presence and pure finishing ability. Jimmy did it all, ending with 93 percent passing on 26 touches, strong defense up the left side, and a thundering goal that put Seattle up by two.

One thing I liked: Jimmy didn’t give up on the play in the 2nd minute, instead defending 20 yards vertically to force a clearance from the corner. He deflected this attempt right to Will Bruin, who combined with Cristian Roldan to give Seattle a very early lead. This defensive work was outstanding.

One thing I didn’t like: Medranda scored a beautiful goal in the 48th minute, starting off the second half with a tally that would have completely killed the game. Taking this pretty bit of dribbling and slick scoring off the board was criminal.

Going forward: Jimmy has taken advantage of Brad Smith’s Covid diagnosis by upping his game against harsh competition in the last few matches. His ability to rise to the occasion was first noticed in MLS Cup last year, and he should continue to get the call when Seattle needs it most.

Josh Atencio – 6 | Community – 6.9

Atencio started in the central mid channel on the right and had a quiet yet productive match. He had one fewer touch than JP and was excellent at pushing the ball around (90 percent completed attempts).

One thing I liked: Josh has found a role next to JP that frees his partner to be a dominant central force while Atencio buzzes around in support. It’s working great, and he can almost always be found in the right place, at the right time.

One thing I didn’t like: For all his movement and defending, he had few tangible defensive statistics, and didn’t impact the game visibly. Several Rapids runners got in behind him.

Going forward: Atencio isn’t a creator, and while he dove into the attack a few times on the dribble, his ability to set up teammates was lacking. This performance calls for combining him with veteran creative teammates who can leverage his strong positioning and defense without conceding any midfield presence offensively.

João Paulo – 9 (MOTM) | Community – 9.2 (MOTM) (off 68’ for Rowe)

João Paulo put multiple games’ worth of production in 68 stat-filled minutes and earned the highest score of the year. Two shots on goal, four key passes, a goal, an assist, 80 percent passing, 13 duels with a 62 percent success rate, and a team-high 69 touches (nice!). JP was everywhere, doing everything well. Then he did THAT.

One thing I liked: The thing I liked best about his amazing goal was how perfectly it describes JP as a player. All the little things he does so well were on display: control in tight areas, awareness to see the space open, touch to get by a player, understanding and ability to take what the team gave him. Tenacity to shrug off multiple fouls, deceptive speed and excellent change of pace to create space. Agility to turn at full sprint, control of the ball throughout the run while being bounced around by fouls and directional change. Composure to finish clean. Desire to run 65 yards and score, and imagination to think it was even possible. A masterpiece.

One thing I didn’t like: Mark-Anthony Kaye somehow slipped by both JP and Nouhou on the width in the 16th minute and he was likely as surprised as I was.

Going forward: João Paulo is getting MVP chatter from national media for the things we have known all year. He is a physically dominant defensive midfielder who also is a technically dominant attacking midfielder who dominates the stat sheet with intricate set piece delivery and scores as well. Dominant.

Alex Roldan – 6 | Community – 6.3

Alex continues to have quiet yet effective matches on the right, combining with Yeimar and Atencio to limit forays down his side and support build up through the width. He isn’t getting forward a lot, but his movement and support opens channels for teammates. Against Colorado he had many touches (66) and nice passing (79 percent) but didn’t create a lot on either side of the field.

One thing I liked: Roldan was part of a shutout defense and he supported spacing on the right which allowed his brother freedom to wreak havoc across the Rapids defense.

One thing I didn’t like: It wasn’t until the 94th minute that I recorded Alex making a run into the box, finally joining the attack.

Going forward: Alex continues to do his job well and has brought a steadiness to the position that creates opportunity for those around him to shine. Hopefully he returns from international play with an attacking mindset.

Attacking Midfield

Fredy Montero – 6 | Community – 6.4 (off 72’ for Chú)

Fredy did a little of everything for Seattle in this match, dropping back centrally to support and springing runs up and down the width. His 50 touches included multiple shots and he was excellent in creating for others as a withdrawn playmaker.

One thing I liked: When Montero plays, it adds a release valve for the defense. They can clear just about anything near him, and he controls it and turns out of pressure, alleviating the midfield’s burden. This presence facilitated so much of what Seattle was successful with against Colorado.

One thing I didn’t like: Fredy was called for a foul in the 48th minute for stepping on an opponent and it’s just a shame, since his positioning and shielding of the ball was top notch.

Going forward: There is not a set “best” lineup for Seattle right now, but when needed Montero is an excellent option to add some creativity up front. This supplements other players who are more workmanlike in their movement.

Cristian Roldan – 8 | Community – 8.2 (off 73’ for Leyva)

Cristian has been lights out lately, scoring nearly at will and putting immense pressure on the opposition backline with his combination of speed and agility. His runs across the field force defenses into poor choices, and when presented with an opportunity, Roldan doesn’t hesitate.

One thing I liked: When he is in this form, Roldan is everywhere, and he was against Colorado. Popping up perfectly in the box to slam home a goal early, or tirelessly racing onto a speculative over the top ball into the corner before getting his head up and finding the right pass, Cristian was unstoppable.

One thing I didn’t like: Losing Cristian to international play when he is on this form is rough, because right now he is a dominant attacker that cannot be contained.

Going forward: Roldan will take his form elsewhere this week, and we can hope he continues to play this well for the rest of the year. He’s found his role as an attacking midfielder and is showing how dangerous he can be.

Forward

Will Bruin – 7 | Community – 7.3

Bruin worked hard against Colorado, banging around a very physical team, and pulling them deep to open pockets for teammates to run into. He was full of energy, garnering 39 touches and constantly offering a target up front for players to look for and run off of, with an outstanding 12 duels on the evening.

One thing I liked: Will played facilitator, especially in the 2nd minute when he floated in between the keeper and the ball to force play smartly back to the sideline, rescued a blocked clearance, and adeptly found Roldan for an early score. Later Seattle found success after Bruin dropped deep and beat the offside trap with a corner ball that Roldan was able to track down.

One thing I didn’t like: Although he was always up for the challenge, Will unfortunately lost a lot of the physical battles, and he had some possession issues. Sixty percent passing and zero shots left room for improvement.

Going forward: Seeing Will defend on the left in the 74th minute behind an out of position Nouhou is exactly why he is a great option for this team. He has a lot of Nelson Antonio Haedo Valdez in his play. He plays with such desire and effort, and that work rate starting at the front is contagious. Bruin might not be an everyday starter anymore, but performances like this show how valuable he can be when he’s setting up teammates.

Substitutes

Shane O’Neill – 6 | Community – 6.2 (on 69’ for Medranda)

This was a perfect game to add O’Neill, and he did admirably at a few defensive positions, helping ensure the shutout held. He only had 19 touches but completed 93 percent of his passes and had eight defensive actions.

One thing I liked: A physical, no-nonsense game holding a 3-0 lead? That’s a recipe for some Shane O’Neill defending. It wasn’t fancy, it wasn’t pretty, but it was exactly what the game needed, with Shane winning every header and clearing everything without pretense.

One thing I didn’t like: Shane randomly allowed a Sounders ball out for a corner, when he had time to clear it up field or at least out for a throw. Odd choice.

Going forward: Shane was in his element in this game state and should be called on similarly as needed.

Kelyn Rowe – 5 | Community – 6.0 (on 68’ for JP)

Rowe entered centrally to give João Paulo a little rest and brought some intensity and experience to the defense, helping hold on to the shutout. He dropped in a key pass and had perfect passing.

One thing I liked: Spicy Rowe asked known annoying soccerer Mark-Anthony Kaye, “What’s the score?” when confronted face to face, and I’m here for it.

One thing I didn’t like: Seattle wasn’t exactly great in the second half, even playing up a man. Rowe had several chances to control play and missed them.

Going forward: Rowe likely gets a start on the right wingback position this weekend with A-Rold off internationally, and while he hasn’t been spectacular there, he’s been solid.

Léo Chú – 6 | Community – 6.0 (on 72’ for Montero)

Again, Chú entered in an attacking role and again he looked very good attacking. He had multiple shots and looked strong racing forward on occasion.

One thing I liked: He isn’t just a one-dimensional player, and his tracking back to defend in the 86th minute will serve him well in Schmetzer’s defense-first mentality.

One thing I didn’t like: In the 83rd minute Chú was forced right on an open break and looked a bit lost. Similarly, when on the right in the 91st minute he was unable to take advantage.

Going forward: Léo Chú is young and developing, but he already shows a high technical ceiling. It remains to be seen how he best fits on the team, because he’s only played substitute minutes with a changing cast of teammates in various formations.

Danny Leyva – 5 | Community – 5.9 (on 73’ for C. Roldan)

Danny joined the match, got 13 touches, and combined with Atencio centrally to close out the shutout.

One thing I liked: Twice he showed off excellent deep creation ability, putting Nouhou in on goal in the 79th and 94th minutes.

One thing I didn’t like: Seattle needed more defensive bite from Leyva, who missed a few tackles and was part of a leaky central midfield late.

Going forward: Danny keeps doing his job every time he’s called on and remains one of the first options off the bench to play centrally. He seems to be improving and earning more time as he does so.

Abdoulaye Cissoko – 5 | Community – 5.7 (on 78’ for Arreaga)

AB entered late to lock down the left, pushing Shane centrally and giving Arreaga a rest after he picked up a knock. He was perfect passing on his nine touches and defended the left side well.

One thing I liked: He was able to stab the ball away in the 93rd minute, combining to lock down a brief Colorado chance.

One thing I didn’t like: In the 88th minute Seattle lost their marks on the backside, with Cissoko being the most culpable for an open header on the back post.

Going forward: Cissoko has remained in the defensive rotation as others are injured or called up and is a solid option for game states like this.

Referee

Chris Penso – 7 | Community – 5.2

Colorado went down early, and that likely influenced their frustrated play, as they committed twice as many fouls as Seattle (17-8). This overly physical play was mediated well by Penso, who relied on advantage and discussion to adjudicate most of the match until he was forced to give four earned yellow cards to Colorado. He also gave a controversial red card for a straight leg over the ball challenge that, while it didn’t land as aimed at breaking JP’s leg, was given for the intent behind the action. (Ask Brad Evans about that.)

One thing I liked: In the 25th minute Danny Wilson attempted to break up a Sounders attack with a brutal foul. Penso smartly allowed play on and (!!!!) then he returned to Wilson after the Seattle attack was complete and issued the yellow. Excellent refereeing, and he even gave a card for dissent.

One thing I didn’t like: Some of the offsides calls were called extremely late. I can agree with the red and am not too annoyed with the VAR stuff because they benefitted Seattle/game state. (Is that Montero call a foul anywhere else on the field or just a good no-call?)

Going forward: This entire staff tried to get everything right: the non-goals for both teams, the red card, most all the fouls and the physical play in the match.

Colorado Rapids MOTM

Kellyn Acosta sneaks away with the Man of the Match award in this one, narrowly edging out Other. He must be commended for doing his usual Kellyn Acosta things, namely hitting switching balls and keeping play ticking over, and of course, somehow always getting to the referee in record time whenever a call goes against one of his teammates. It’s breathtaking, really.


I heard somewhere that the Whitecaps were one of the hottest teams in MLS. Were.