Seattle played 70 minutes against a team desperate for a nil-nil draw. Dallas started delaying play 15 minutes before they came out of the tunnel for the pregame warmups. The number of falls, slow restarts, etc., was appalling, only to be combined with packing it in defensively without any desire to take offensive chances to score. As soon as Seattle broke through in the 72nd minute, a soccer game started, and Dallas snuck in a late tally for the game to end in a 1-1 tie. What a massive disappointment of a match. It had plenty of positive narratives like Cristian and Nico returning, but was destroyed by a defensive lapse with seconds left in the match. Blah.
Stefan Cleveland – 6 | Community – 6.0
For 90 percent of this game Cleveland had a nice view of the match, standing in the back as Dallas hung out in their parked bus. The other 10 percent was coming out of his box to clear speculative long balls and catching a few hopeful crosses in traffic.
One thing I liked: Stefan made a good save in the 69th minute, reaching to his left to stop a frantic scramble shot.
One thing I didn’t like: Cleveland made a questionable short pass in the box to Xavier Arreaga in the 85th minute and put his teammate in way too much pressure given the game state.
Going forward: I miss Frei. I think he would have held Dallas to a shutout in that match, but we also miss his leadership. The drop in intensity at the end of halves must be addressed.
Shane O’Neill – 5 | Community – 5.7
Shane’s job was left center back and he was up and down. While his passing was strong completion-wise (95 percent), it was dreadfully redundant, playing square and predictably backwards. He had a single defensive action recorded, a first half interception.
One thing I liked: O’Neill read the game well in the first half, recognizing Dallas’ refusal to advance and taking the space given. In the 11th minute he popped up just outside the box for an attempted shot. In the 24th he again showed up in the offensive third, providing support in the corner.
One thing I didn’t like: Shane’s effectiveness faded in the second half and he needs a very strong/active defender next to him. When Jimmy Medranda subbed, the left side was consistently targeted until it conceded. His play in the buildup to the goal was classic Shane. He passed off defensive responsibilities to teammates in order to mark space, became disconnected, and was therefore slow to react.
Going forward: Shane and Brad Smith again struggled to defend on the left, and Nouhou isn’t even making the questionable list. I don’t know what the solution is, but I have a hunch scoring a couple more goals when we have the chance will help.
Xavier Arreaga – 7 | Community – 6.3
Arreaga was stellar in this match, consistently leading the backline high to take the space that Dallas allowed. He had an excellent 97 percent passing rate, including many forward and incisive passes that helped jumpstart attacks into the Dallas backline.
One thing I liked: Xavi does a lot of little positioning things that create pockets of space for the midfield to play centrally. He also steps forward with his head up, something he did in the 71st minute, attempting to put Smith through. This was notable not because the pass went incomplete, but because he was fouled and earned the set piece Seattle scored from.
One thing I didn’t like: A 10th minute miscommunication with the keeper was a rough spot, and it’s a shame he got pushed down before their equalizer.
Going forward: Xavi was strong defensively for the Sounders, who dominated a majority of the match. His passing and forward mobility will only increase in effectiveness when adding Lodeiro as a breakout target.
Yeimar Gómez Andrade – 7 | Community – 7.5 (MOTM)
Yeimar was a monster all match, showing up everywhere and completely shutting down his side of the field while ranging both forward and across field as well. Four tackles, five interceptions, four clearances, four headers won, a key pass, and 87 percent completion rate. Stellar.
One thing I liked: YGA stepped up strong in the 40th minute to deny a counter, keep Dallas pinned in, and push possession directly to Fredy.
Montero earned a penalty and Seattle cruised to a win.
One thing I didn’t like: Although he came across multiple times late to save the day when the left struggled, he wasn’t able to duplicate it on the Dallas goal.
Going forward: Yeimar is a consistent, dominant force and has been one of, if not the best defender in the league this season. Having some midfield additions may help balance out the workload.
Jimmy Medranda – 6 | Community – 5.8 (off 60’ for Smith)
Medranda again earned the start on the left and showed an excellent combination of strong defending and attacking linkup. His ability to both cross from wide positions and get central to link up with others was on display as Seattle dominated the first 60 or so minutes.
One thing I liked: Jimmy has a fine combination of defending and sheltering the left side, but also an ability to get into the attack. Two tackles and an interception complemented his two key passes.
One thing I didn’t like: Removing him from the left turned it into a massive defensive weakness that Dallas attacked as soon as they had a reason to.
Going forward: Medranda showed his value without directly affecting the score sheet. He seems likely to be able to connect with central play, although it’s yet to be seen who combines best with Lodeiro.
Kelyn Rowe – 6 | Community – 5.8 (off 87’ for Lodeiro)
Rowe had a very active match, both combining well with the midfield and connecting to the attackers while keeping up expected defensive intensity. He had 76 touches in the midfield, and a stellar 91 percent passing rate.
One thing I liked: Kelyn constantly supported the attack as well, with three shots and a key pass. His ability to cover a lot of ground helped create gaps for JP.
One thing I didn’t like: Everything but the final pass looked solid from Rowe, who just can’t seem to put a shot on frame or link the final pass. He does a lot of things well, but just misses that bit of class that his big chances need.
Going forward: Rowe remains a strong pairing with JP, but as teammates return, he may go from a solid starter to an excellent sub.
João Paulo – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 7.3
JP was great as always, absolutely crushing the stat sheet with everything but a goal. He had two shots (both forcing saves), two key passes, 86 percent completion rate, a game-high 92 touches, seven defensive actions, 11 duels, and an assist.
One thing I liked: Twice in the first half JP pushed high into the offensive third, supporting attacks and getting in position to shoot. In the 13th and 14th minutes he forced saves, the second barely being pushed onto the post and out.
One thing I didn’t like: As the game wore on, the Sounders’ defense got a little stretched, and wherever João wasn’t, there were often gaps that could be exploited centrally.
Going forward: João Paulo was the Sounder’s MVP in the first half of the season. Getting the old MVP back to support him should only accentuate his play. Seattle needs to find the optimal midfield pairing with him.
Alex Roldan – 6 | Community – 6.4
Roldan was fine on the right, getting into the attack some but comfortably conceding space to his brother to attack the corner in front of him. Defensively Alex paired with Yeimar to thwart any attacks down their side. Alex had 13 duels and 83 percent passing.
One thing I liked: There’s nothing better than the communication built up from brotherhood, and Alex combined beautifully with Cristian in the 15th minute. Reading his sibling’s diagonal run, the younger Roldan first-timed a volley pass up the line to the elder, who put in a cross that nearly resulted in a goal.
One thing I didn’t like: Alex only had a single shot and zero key passes, getting less involved in the attack as Cristian consistently shaded to his side and worked in his space.
Going forward: The right-side defensive combination hasn’t conceded in months (and only once this season?) and it doesn’t look remotely vulnerable. This is why both are all-stars.
Cristian Roldan – 7 | Community – 7.0
Roldan returned to Seattle and immediately slotted into the offense, creating most of the Sounders’ big chances in the first half with dynamic diagonal movement and passing. He led the team with five key passes, floating wide before dishing off shot attempts for teammates. Cristian also had two shots of his own, and a 90 percent pass rate.
One thing I liked: Everything in the first half came from a Roldan touch, and his connection to set up João Paulo twice in a row in the 14th minute led to multiple big chances.
One thing I didn’t like: Cristian seemed to tire, and his effectiveness waned for stretches in the second half. Without his dynamic vertical play, Seattle looked stagnant several times.
Going forward: Taking a break to win a tournament is the only thing that slowed Cristian’s productiveness this season, and he remains an incredibly effective two-way player. It will be interesting to see whether he slots back as a deep runner next to JP or remains pushed forward next to Nico in the starting lineup.
Fredy Montero – 7 | Community – 6.8 (off 73’ for Bruin)
Fredy started a bit withdrawn from Raúl and was excellent in link up play, continually creating chances with his movement and slick passing. Montero led the team with five shots, added a key pass, and was excellent at maximizing his 49 touches, one of which scored the Sounders’ goal.
One thing I liked: With Seattle constantly on the front foot, it was Montero who rose high to head home what should have been the game winner, a gorgeous finish in the 72nd minute.
One thing I didn’t like: Montero was pulled back blatantly in the 40th minute for an uncalled penalty. Expecting the man to flop to sell an obvious foul is so, so stupid.
Going forward: The home team immediately lost possession after Fredy’s exit, a combination of Dallas finally playing and Seattle struggling to keep the ball. The next month will likely be spent trying different combinations to see what looks like the best front five.
Raúl Ruidíaz – 6 | Community – 6.2
Ruidíaz had an active match but failed to impact the score. A quiet 32 touches saw him get into good position a few times but only translated into two shots and a single key pass.
One thing I liked: Raúl had a valid shout for a penalty in the 19th minute, and on a few other occasions he was in the right place but lacking the service needed to score.
One thing I didn’t like: Fredy and Raúl have great chemistry, and they are close to connecting for multiple goals. That doesn’t help until it comes to fruition.
Going forward: With Nico and Cristian back, Raúl should have much more diverse service, as the team looks to right the ship.
Brad Smith – 4 | Community – 5.3 (on 60’ for Medranda)
Brad arrived for a change of pace on the left and added both a change, and some pace.
One thing I liked: Smith is dynamic on straight line runs up field, and had Will Bruin been better at passing in front of him instead of two feet behind, who knows how effective Smith could have been on the multiple breakaways he created.
One thing I didn’t like: Dallas immediately pounded the Smith/O’Neill defensive pairing until it conceded, and that weakness is all too frequently exposed.
Going forward: Having someone like Nico who can complete the through balls needed to unlock Brad’s vertical game is likely necessary for him to impact the match offensively. Equally important may be the return of Nouhou, who can help lessen Smith’s impact defensively.
Will Bruin – 4 | Community – 5.4 (on 73’ for Montero)
Will was likely intended to be an offensive sub to chase a late game winner, but his role changed as Montero scored with Bruin standing at midfield ready to enter. Tasked with defending from the front and holding the lead for the remainder of the match, Will underwhelmed. He had 11 touches and a rough 44 percent passing rate, failing to keep possession for a team suddenly incapable of retaining the ball.
One thing I liked: Will won two headers.
One thing I didn’t like: The lack of defensive intensity when holding a lead for 10 minutes was disappointing.
Going forward: Will has a chance to show that his size and abilities are strong combinations with Nico, but this match didn’t illustrate any of that.
Nicolás Lodeiro – 5 | Community – 5.7 (on 87’ for Rowe)
Team MVP Nico Lodeiro returned to the field in what should have been a five-minute feel good cameo. He completed one of his two pass attempts and had a cross.
One thing I liked: Seeing the captain back out there was magical, and the roar when he subbed in was a highlight of the season.
One thing I didn’t like: It’s Nico, and even though he has been out for a long time, I expected more. He barely touched the ball and had zero positive impact on the match.
Going forward: This was earlier than expected for a return, and Lodeiro makes the team massively better in any capacity.
Fotis Bazakos – 6 | Community – 4.3
Refereeing has been tumultuous this year, and somehow this was average. (Remember last match?) Bazakos called few fouls, displayed only a single yellow card, and kept the match mostly under control. He attempted to deal with Dallas’ negative tactics, and his assistants (specifically VAR) struggled.
One thing I liked: In the 49th minute as Cristian Roldan got fouled, Bazakos smartly allowed advantage, which turned into a good Seattle scoring chance.
Things I didn’t like: In the 19th minute Ruidíaz was fouled in the box, and in the 40th minute Montero was yanked back by his shirt, also in the area. Neither was given much of a second glance, and the second should definitely have been a penalty awarded. Any goal would have forced Dallas to actually play soccer, and that makes the no-call doubly frustrating.
Going forward: It is a sad state of affairs that “only” missing one huge game-changing call is MLS average, but here we are.
FC Dallas MOTM
Amidst the bunkering, Jimmy Maurer did well to deal with JP’s shots from distance. His stop on Ruidíaz’ point blank effort was exceptional. He stood tall against Montero a couple times. What I’m saying is, Jimmy Maurer kept FC Dallas in this match, and he has his bus-parking teammates to thank for the opportunity to make all these saves.
I took a break before tackling this one. No surprise, but fun games are so much easier to re-watch, analyze, and write up. Next up is Leagues Cup (which I won’t be rating) and then the stupid Timbers.