Seattle lost another player prior to facing a good Colorado team away, and you might have thought this would be their first loss, as injuries and international duty cost them upwards of six starters. Instead, a resolute Sounders team found a goal right before half and hung on for a road point against a solid Rapids team. The final was 1-1, and to say that the home team had the better of it in the second half would be putting it mildly. Seattle came out of the locker room listless and somehow managed to hold on when under siege for long periods of time. With necessity forcing a rotated lineup, many players struggled, but it was the kind of game that you steal points from in a Supporter’s Shield season.
Stefan Cleveland – 6 | Community – 6.4
This was a very mature match from Cleveland, who had his busiest and perhaps most challenging game as a Sounder. Although Stefan was only credited with two saves, Colorado consistently created opportunities and overloads, putting in dangerous crosses and forcing the tempo. While not standing on his head acrobatically, Cleveland consistently made great choices on positioning, knowing when to come out aggressively and when to rely on his teammates to cut angles for him, keeping his team fighting for the point they eventually earned.
One thing I liked: Although not credited with a save in the 13th minute, Cleveland came out and cut down the angle perfectly as a Colorado player got in behind. His positioning was superb, demanding a perfect finish that the opponent was unable to muster. Stefan looks excellent on these 1-v-1 plays, and always seems to force a difficult shot to beat him.
One thing I didn’t like: Going short to Shane O’Neill on goal kicks was clearly planned with the diminutive Raúl Ruidíaz forward as a lone target, but there had to be a better option. Passing a yard forward to Shane only to see him dribble forward and then drop it back to Stefan to clear was excruciating, and with these personnel, going short was the wrong choice.
Going forward: Stefan Cleveland was thrust into the starting lineup abruptly and has done nearly everything well, showing excellent promise. While not surpassing Stefan Frei, his performance has been a big plus, as he has shown MLS-level goalkeeping.
Abdoulaye Cissoko – 6 | Community – 6.0
Cissoko got another start on the defensive left, although this time Brad Smith was next to him for most of the match. This changed things a little, and Abdoulaye did well to play solid, consistent defense with a lot of chaos around him. He touched the ball 57 times, completed 87 percent of his passes, and was stout defensively.
One thing I liked: Seattle struggled on the wings but when the ball got inside, Cissoko was excellent. He had four interceptions, two tackles, four clearances and showed that he is a strong defender on and off the ball.
One thing I didn’t like: The communication with a player directly to his left was messy. There were numerous times that AB left guys, assuming Brad Smith would pick them up, and he most definitely did not. They were not on the same page at all.
Going forward: Cissoko showed through these last few weeks that he is a solid contributor to the team, but also that he isn’t going to carry it. He needs to be surrounded by quality players who play well, and he can fit in excellently with them. When teammates struggle, his play tends to also falter. Getting this time (and continuing to pick up late minutes as Seattle tends to overload defensively with a lead) is huge for a developing player who has a bright future.
Shane O’Neill – 5 | Community – 5.7
O’Neill again started at the center of the defense and again was asked to hold together a group playing a bit of a different formation. There were mixed results, with Shane not drastically blundering but also making some positional and distribution mistakes that put a ton of pressure on teammates around him. He had 57 touches and a stellar 94 percent completion rate.
One thing I liked: He had three clearances, in addition to a tackle and an interception, and he held his central position well.
One thing I didn’t like: To call Shane’s passing conservative would be a compliment. Nearly every single pass he had went square to AB or Yeimar, or back to Cleveland. When you have 39 passes flat or backwards on 57 touches you are being more than safe, you are shutting down any part the backline plays in supporting forward. Six times all match O’Neill passed to João Paulo or Atencio, and those were his most attacking passes. He didn’t even try to find penetrative passes that could have massively helped Seattle deal with a pressing team, instead hitting eight-yard square passes slightly behind Yeimar.
Going forward: Shane O’Neill is a nice addition for a team that wants to win a Supporter’s Shield, which takes season-long consistency. When you need someone to make a big play to win a pivotal game, it’s hard to imagine him being that guy, especially with how mundane his decision making has become. A back three can be so dynamic with angled passing and penetrating switches opening wide play, and Shane doesn’t showcase any of that. He will start and do fine until Xavi returns, but there’s so much more we could be seeing from the back.
Yeimar Gómez Andrade – 7 | Community – 7.1 (MOTM)
Yeimar was again huge, carrying the defense on his back from the right side, making big play after big play and forcing Colorado to unfortunately try the other side, to their benefit. A solid 77 percent passing came from his 71 touches, which was second highest on the team.
One thing I liked: Defensive stats are usually a function of demand, and Yeimar filled that demand massively: six tackles, 16 pressures, seven (!) interceptions, and four clearances. The left side was where attacks seemed to be successful before ultimately petering out.
One thing I didn’t like: A close foul in the box that wasn’t called was a hairy moment. He was forced into a yellow early and had to play most of the match on a card.
Going forward: Yeimar is doing everything as well as can be expected and he’ll only improve as quality gets re-inserted around him. Until then, expect his last-ditch defense to be top notch as teams continue to futilely attack down his side.
Brad Smith – 4 | Community – 5.1 (off 84’ for Dobbelaere)
Smith played left wide defensive something or another and struggled. Never a great defender, Brad was consistently matched up with Sounders killer Michael Barrios and was consistently beaten. He did put up two key passes and led the team in shots in one of the sillier stats you will ever see.
One thing I liked: Right before half Brad dribbled to his right in the box, showing a change of pace from his usual. In the 51st minute Raúl came back into his own defensive third to support a flagging defense and opened Smith on a 1-v-1 with the last defender. Brad at least drove at him before eventually offering a weak shot which somehow exceeded expectations.
One thing I didn’t like: Smith struggled on both sides of the ball. Offensively he got the ball in good positions and promptly passed behind his targets. Defensively he was awful at marking in the first half, allowing opponents free back post headers on multiple occasions. The second half was worse, as he was consistently torched by Barrios and anyone else who was matched up wide.
Going forward: This was a match to forget from a player who is struggling. Without the security blanket of Nouhou behind him, Brad has been asked to defend more and hasn’t demonstrated aptitude for that. Since he hasn’t shown quality going forward, Brad might be better off showcasing his pace as a substitute for a while.
Jimmy Medranda – 6 | Community – 5.8 (off 56’ for Rowe)
Medranda started and was as effective as anyone else going forward before he subbed rather early in the match. He offered some connectivity on the dribble and picked out teammates crossing when available, finishing with 87 percent passing. Defensively he wasn’t much of a factor, contributing a single tackle and interception.
One thing I liked: Seattle nearly scored the opener in the 6th minute, after Medranda worked his way free on the left and fed Raúl with a perfect cross. Jimmy’s ability to find teammates in stride was essential to nearly all attacking success.
One thing I didn’t like: Once again Medranda got somewhat greedy and punted a speculative 38th minute shot into the stands when there were better options that may have kept teammates invested in attacking positions.
Going forward: Subbing out early hopefully foreshadows a start next match at the left-wing spot where he’s looked so tantalizingly proficient in small doses. Seattle needs his two-way play and creation, especially with the Roldans leaving soon.
Josh Atencio – 5 | Community – 6.0 (off 73’ for Leyva)
Atencio earned his second consecutive start and covered a lot of ground. Eighty-nine percent passing from a congested area is excellent, but he only had 44 touches and little defensive impact outside of positioning.
One thing I liked: Josh was solid centrally in the first half, and while Seattle had able and willing runners up the left wing, he did a great job of combining in traffic to release them as well as he could.
One thing I didn’t like: Seattle hasn’t looked great with Atencio on the field lately and much of that is his penchant to run before he thinks. He tries to race everywhere to support and at times there are better/smarter runs to be made. His movement forces João Paulo to cover more defensive ground and affects his usefulness.
Going forward: The Sounders looked a little stronger in the central midfield with Rowe combining instead of Atencio. This isn’t to say he’s played better, but at this point the veteran may be supporting his teammates more productively. There is still a way to start Atencio effectively, but right now he looks like one of those players who requires starter level talent around him to excel.
João Paulo – 7 | Community – 7.1
João Paulo did yeoman’s work against Colorado but even he couldn’t do it all. It’s telling that JP’s 74 touches were only a few more than Yeimar’s, and his influence on the game was fleeting. Even though he didn’t dominate going forward, JP still had plenty of defensive actions and both a shot and key pass.
One thing I liked: Seattle’s strength on defense was whatever quadrant JP was in. For much of the match that was on the right, and the right side of the defense reaped the spoils.
One thing I didn’t like: There was a drop off in effectiveness as he paired with Atencio in the middle, and Seattle wasn’t massively dangerous until a formation change and subs late. Some of this was positioning and perhaps fatigue from a grueling, three-match week.
Going forward: JP couldn’t carry the team, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. Something in his combination with Atencio limits his effectiveness and is part of the struggles Seattle has in the middle of the field. The way he is playing, it’s important to put João into position to change the game, because he is fantastic at it.
Cristian Roldan – 6 | Community – 6.5
Cristian had a quiet match with 52 mostly inconsequential touches. Ostensibly as a wide player, he drifted forward and right as usual but failed to find any luck penetrating and finding service back into the box. His 88 percent passing told a story of consistent connection, but zero key passes showed how conservative those passes were.
One thing I liked: In the 65th minute Cristian got on the end of a set piece and lunged onto an over-the-top ball, lifting it back across the face of goal and narrowly missing a goal or assist.
One thing I didn’t like: Cristian was just missing for most of the match, and he is one of the players Seattle depends on to help create. Zero key passes, a single shot, and an unexciting night.
Going forward: Cristian is off to get yelled at by USMNT dweebs. Here, where he is appreciated, he will be missed.
Alex Roldan – 7 (MOTM) | Community – 7.0
Alex did a little bit of everything, from controlling play with strong possession on the wing to locking down his side defensively and scoring the only Sounders goal. This was a nice combination from the younger Roldan who had 60 touches, 85 percent passing, two interceptions, two clearances, and a tackle.
One thing I liked: It wasn’t pretty, but Alex showed great perseverance to stick aggressively to pressing after losing the ball in the 41st minute. His pressure won possession back past two defenders and when given a chance he was brutally effective, slotting home a well-hit sliced ball through traffic and into the net for his first Sounders goal.
One thing I didn’t like: There were a few times when Seattle’s backside defense was hanging on by a thread. He combined well with Yeimar to limit Colorado’s big chances, but there were some small ones that better communication or positioning may have lessened.
Going forward: Alex has another match in Seattle before heading off to international duty, and he’ll want to build off his newfound scoring prowess. Facing a bit of a lull prior, this match firmly solidified his spot upon his return.
Raúl Ruidíaz – 7 | Community – 6.3
Raúl worked incredibly hard to be relevant in a match where Seattle saw very little of the ball. Even starved of possession, Raúl still found 34 touches, constantly dropping far into his own half to touch and combine and hold up the ball, frantically attempting to support a beleaguered defense. Although he only had a single shot, he contributed two key passes and excellent hustle in a supporting role.
One thing I liked: Many strikers would have been reluctant to leave the front, standing up there and complaining about lack of service. Raúl didn’t do this, instead continually coming back to combine in the middle and help Seattle out. Twice he beat center backs on quick touches centrally, earning two yellow cards against opponents for his hustle.
One thing I didn’t like: Raúl nearly scored, with his chest of all things, in the 6th minute. Scoring that sort of goal early would have forced Colorado to respect the counter much more, which likely would have helped shape a lot.
Going forward: Ruidíaz didn’t score, but he nearly did with just the one good chance. Once again, he showcased how little breathing room he needs to produce on the scoreboard. As the Sounders rotate players around him, the constant plan should be to feed him and let him carry.
Kelyn Rowe – 4 | Community – 5.4 (on 56’ for Medranda)
I thought Rowe coming into the match would be a great sub, calming the middle and showing his control and defensive aggression. I was completely wrong as he subbed wide and struggled.
One thing I liked: Twenty-seven touches, 78 percent passing and a couple of defensive actions in support of a beleaguered left side.
One thing I didn’t like: Rowe didn’t look like he wanted to be there, showing a distinct lack of fire, and an 86th minute whiff in the box was indicative of an off night.
Going forward: I am not sure if it was the formation, the elevation, or the lack of organization, but Rowe’s appearance earned nothing but consternation and produced immense frustration. His combination with JP centrally is an augmentation that has bred positive ramifications all season, so I’ll chalk this appearance up to isolation and hope his poor play lacks duration.
Danny Leyva – 6 | Community – 6.3 (on 73’ for Atencio)
Leyva came in and showed excellent skill, calming the play down and almost immediately helping Seattle get some breathing space. His insertion coincided with the Sounders breaking up the one-way traffic that Colorado had directly at their goal. As he settled the midfield, his team was able to get some control of the ball and a break from weary chasing.
One thing I liked: This was exactly what was needed in the match. Danny got the ball and found quick, quality passes. His 79th minute switch was the kind of pass that had been missing, and his ability to step in, control the ball, and find quality outlet passes like this was huge. He helped unlock João Paulo to be more effective as well.
One thing I didn’t like: A single defensive action showcases his biggest issue — when put into defensive midfield, Leyva is much better at the midfield part than the defensive part.
Going forward: Danny’s 23 touches were well-taken, and there was maybe reason to see his ball control inserted earlier. For whatever reason, he isn’t earning minutes and he must show like this every game, forcing the coaches to play him more. The last two times he’s been on the field are two of his best, and his stock is rising.
Ethan Dobbelaere – 5 | Community – 5.3 (on 84’ for Smith)
Young Double Dare came in to help Seattle hold on for the last ten minutes. He got two touches and completed both his passes.
One thing I liked: A nice hustle play in the 90th minute earned Seattle a much-needed free kick, as Ethan shielded the ball well to earn the foul.
One thing I didn’t like: It’s all go and not much else from Ethan as this point in his young career.
Going forward: With the game begging Seattle to add some energy or dynamic play, they found the first half in Dobbelaere. Always a willing runner, he will need to develop and/or showcase some MLS skills other than athleticism to earn continued minutes.
Kevin Stott – 7 | Community – 4.8
Stott has been an up and down referee for Seattle, and this was one of his better performances. He was strong in his diagonal, consistently in the right spot to make calls, relied on his VAR when needed, and carded quickly and efficiently. There were a few calls I disagreed with or questioned, but he made little to no egregious errors while keeping the match flowing well.
One thing I liked: Stott was all over the Seattle opponents love for diving in the box, correctly ignoring multiple dives. When asked to review a potential handball on Seattle’s goal he did so quickly and efficiently.
One thing I didn’t like: A couple calls when unwhistled, most notably a blatant foul on Cristian Roldan in the 34th minute that, had it been called, would have erased the yellow for Yeimar on the counterattack. Kellyn Acosta and Andre Shinyashiki had several card-worthy fouls, and the biggest referee issue was not penalizing players with yellow cards for hacking down opponents after releasing the ball.
Going forward: This was a good outing and there weren’t many issues to quibble with from the refereeing.
Colorado Rapids MOTM
Michael Barrios had his way with MOTM voting, just like he had his way with the Seattle defense. He got the better of Brad Smith any time Brad bothered to wander back to meet him. His well-taken goal was the difference between the Sounders leaving with three points versus one.
A super-short break before the next game sees at least one player leaving, but the potential for multiple others to return. Even on short rest, a home win versus Houston should be obtainable.