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Seattle Sounders vs. San Jose Earthquakes: Player ratings

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Wasteful in the first half, lethargic in the second, Seattle drops points they shouldn’t.

Juggling another new lineup but welcoming the return of an international goalscorer and facing a lousy team at home, of course Seattle promptly lost. The Sounders dominated the first half, but San Jose scored right before halftime. In the second half, Seattle played lackluster and uninspired, failing to show any of the expected improvement after locker room adjustments. Result: a 1-0 defeat. Seattle has now lost three of its last four matches, with the one win a rather lucky road win featuring six teenagers. After a resolute and bountiful first few months of the season, Seattle has hit the summer doldrums and is uncharacteristically struggling at home. They must quickly figure out personnel and tactical issues before that great start is wasted.


Goalkeeper

Stefan Cleveland – 6 | Community – 5.5

Cleveland was a goalie in this match, and he made a save.

One thing I liked: A nice 69th minute save in traffic kept the match from getting too out of hand.

One thing I didn’t like: Could he have done better on their goal? I think he was shielded from it but still wasn’t particularly close. A big save to get Seattle into the locker room level would have been far superior.

Going forward: I miss Stefan Frei, and not just because I think he would have held San Jose to a shutout in that match, but more for the leadership he brings. There was a noticeable lack of intensity in the second half and missing the top three team captains may have had something to do with that.

Defense

Shane O’Neill – 6 | Community – 5.3 (off 70’ for Leyva)

Shane came in and was okay, not great. He was credited with nearly 90 percent passing, which is what you should have when you take every opportunity to kick it to your goalkeeper. He added a tackle and a clearance for good measure.

One thing I liked: O’Neill came out excited for the first two minutes of the second half, charging forward in minute 46 and pushing into the attack.

One thing I didn’t like: His tentative defending allowed Cristian Espinoza to cut inside and have room to shoot, prior to him doing exactly that and scoring the lone goal of the match.

Going forward: I don’t know what the best backline is anymore; at this point it’s going to be the healthiest players.

Xavier Arreaga – 7 | Community – 5.6

Arreaga started centrally in a back three and was excellent, showing off the clear difference in having him central versus other options. His 88 percent pass completion was a medley of incisive forward and skip passes, pushing the ball through the midfield and forward. Defensively he added multiple tackles, interceptions, and clearances while marshalling the back.

One thing I liked: Xavi’s passing was huge in the middle and was very important as San Jose counter-pressed in the middle third. A 27th minute pass from Arreaga to Alex Roldan cut out four defenders and led to a big chance on the offensive end for Raúl Ruidíaz.

One thing I didn’t like: The second half was a boring mess and no amount of vertical passing from the back could make up for the central midfield morass created by San Jose.

Going forward: Xavi is a good fit centrally to be the defender looking forward with his passes. He has the ability and touch with both feet to find checking runs and overlapping looks. At least he wasn’t inverted this time.

Yeimar Gómez Andrade – 7 | Community – 6.3

Yeimar had a lot of work with Cade Cowell banging around and as usual, did well. There were a few uncharacteristic mistakes, but otherwise this was a dominant defensive outing.

One thing I liked: YGA had four tackles, three interceptions, two clearances, and even a shot. He did a little of everything and shouldered the heaviest defensive workload for Seattle.

One thing I didn’t like: In the 7th minute and at least one other time he was pushed off the ball, something quite rare.

Going forward: Yeimar is a defensive monster on the right side and looks comfortable and effective next to Alex.

Midfield

Jimmy Medranda – 6 | Community – 5.4 (off 83’ for Villanueva)

Medranda wasn’t as effective creating goal scoring chances against San Jose but made up for it with a massive defensive work rate, continually supporting O’Neill down the left.

One thing I liked: Jimmy led the match with five tackles, always willing to get back and defend first.

One thing I didn’t like: A questionable yellow card was shown to Medranda in the 31st minute and his response was to commit a much more worthy yellow card offense less than a minute later. He had another bad tackle in the 46th and while he wasn’t sent off, relying on the ref to be bad isn’t a great tactic.

Going forward: Medranda is the default left wingback due to injury, but may be our best left wingback with a full squad as well. He must be overjoyed to see Cristian Roldan returning.

Reed Baker-Whiting – 5 | Community – 4.9 (off 65’ for Montero)

Reed worked hard, but his efforts were largely unimpactful. He had 22 touches and 60 percent pass completion.

One thing I liked: RBW made a great run in the 34th minute, received a perfect pass from Raúl and was in excellent position to slot home his first professional goal.

One thing I didn’t like: RBW made a great run in the 34th minute, received a perfect pass from Raúl and was in excellent position to slot home his first professional goal but instead panicked and kicked it right at the goalie.

Going forward: The pieces of a very good soccer player are there, but Baker-Whiting isn’t putting them all together yet. His effort is good, but his aggressiveness and cohesion with teammates are lacking. Seeing smart runs from such a young player is great, but it’s not fair to depend on him to be more than he currently is.

Josh Atencio – 6 | Community – 6.1

Atencio played central midfield and was good at possession but couldn’t push the ball into attacking areas as much as Seattle needed.

One thing I liked: His two-way play was excellent, from getting a shot on goal and 78 touches in possession to winning two tackles and two interceptions.

One thing I didn’t like: The absence of forward passing and verticality was a big issue for the Seattle midfield. Josh was good in possession, but he didn’t get others into attacking areas enough.

Going forward: Had Atencio not been broken in half I would be tempted to try Xavi, Yeimar, and Josh in the back but /shrug.

João Paulo – 7 (MOTM) | Community – 6.4 (MOTM)

João did a little bit of everything. As usual he touched the ball the most (108). He added two shots, two key passes, a ton of defense, and certainly did his best amongst a team that seemed slow and lethargic for long stretches.

One thing I liked: JP was huge defensively, cutting out passing lanes and congesting the middle. He had four tackles, three interceptions, two clearances and won 85 percent of his 13 duels. Offensively his service in the 20th and 33rd earned two huge chances for Seattle.

One thing I didn’t like: His dead ball service was rough once again, showing sporadic accuracy issues, including an 88th minute set piece he just put into the Hawk’s Nest.

Going forward: João is likely hoping to start a match for once without multiple teenagers, if only to have a more predictable match around him. He still plays at a high level but can only do so much, and some midfield stability around him is needed.

Kelyn Rowe – 6 | Community – 5.4 (off 83’ for Bruin)

Rowe was active in the first half, making Cristian-esque diagonal runs into the right corner to cross into space and played well. He faded in the second half and was much less of a factor as the entire team looked tired. Kelyn ended with two shots, a key pass, and 74 percent passing accuracy.

One thing I liked: His 20th minute turn to beat a man and charge into the space was excellent, stretching the field. It was one of the few times Seattle effectively punished the Earthquakes’ midfield clogging/press tactics.

One thing I didn’t like: For all his efforts, Rowe was unable to deliver the final ball to unlock the defense, often settling for a few fancy moves and then being forced to recycle possession.

Going forward: Rowe helped the central midfield out by recognizing the space that needed to be attacked in the first half, but as he tired the space shrank. Seattle can’t get Cristian back soon enough to support the middle.

Alex Roldan – 6 | Community – 5.9

It was great to see Alex back from the Gold Cup. Unfortunately, he couldn’t spark the team offensively, settling instead for strong defensive work and safe passing.

One thing I liked: In minute 43 we were reminded how strong Roldan is at overlapping, and he brought with it an aggressive and direct dribble at goal that was missed.

One thing I didn’t like: As with the rest of the team, he disappeared in the second half, failing to get many touches offensively and completely absent from chance creation.

Going forward: Alex is back and his defensive partnership with Yeimar on the right is as solid as ever. The team needs him to assist offensively as well, which will likely only occur if the center gets bolstered.

Forward

Raúl Ruidíaz – 6 | Community – 6.0

Ruidíaz did just about everything but score, and it’s a shame. His movement and creation were great, often on an island up front blanketed by center backs. He made strong use of his 34 touches, completing 96 percent of his passes, coming back to hold up the ball, earning two shots and two key passes but failing to get the ball into the net.

One thing I liked: Raúl doesn’t just score, and his control in traffic, vision, and pass in the 34th minute to put RBW through on goal was exquisite.

One thing I didn’t like: In the 20th minute JP dropped an absolute beauty of a cross into Raúl who had to trap and finish. He only got the first part right.

Going forward: Getting Will Bruin and Cristian Roldan back changes some things for Raúl. It’s not big chance creation that’s the problem for this team, it’s expecting Ruidíaz to do everything or we don’t score.

Substitutes

Fredy Montero – 5 | Community – 5.5 (on 55’ for RBW)

Fredy came in and was clean on the ball but joined a lethargic team that was out of ideas. Fredy is a gifted playmaker but needs runners, and this game had few of those in the second half.

One thing I liked: In the 84th minute he earned a free kick and took it himself, putting in a dangerous ball.

One thing I didn’t like: With the goalkeeper extended to catch a ball, Fredy took a very uncharacteristic cheap shot at him in the 64th minute, making zero attempt at the ball.

Going forward: The Fredy/Will two-headed attacking monster is a good thing, as I think both play better when able to sub/be subbed.

Danny Leyva – 5 | Community – 4.8 (on 70’ for O’Neill)

Leyva came in and played centrally, giving a little more possession in the middle of the field to push others higher offensively.

One thing I liked: A nice 72nd minute pass in traffic stood out.

One thing I didn’t like: Twenty-four boring touches and zero defensive actions isn’t the impact sub we were looking for.

Going forward: Danny remains an important depth piece for Seattle but has shown he’s not an everyday essential piece yet.

Will Bruin – 5 | Community – 5.5 (on 83’ for Rowe)

Bruin returned from injury, in a much-needed forward capacity. Expected to add a target and intensity, he brought four total touches.

One thing I liked: Will had a fine over the top run in the 86th minute that showed some attacking instincts.

One thing I didn’t like: The above run was nice, but he forced a wild shot well wide with Raúl and Fredy arriving to assist.

Going forward: Will and Fredy will renew their competition for the starting striker spot opposite Raúl, and having the option to switch out for each other is a known attacking commodity.

Alex Villanueva– 5 | Community – 4.9 (on 83’ for Medranda)

Alex got a bit of an extended runout on the left and performed well.

One thing I liked: He had 15 touches and was a clean 10/10 passing.

One thing I didn’t like: Two fouls committed, one of which was in the San Jose box late and gave the Earthquakes a free exit from a pressure position.

Going forward: There was a lot to like from his appearance, as Alex showed strong speed and effort on the left, wasn’t beaten, and didn’t look out of place on an MLS field.

Referee

Joseph Dickerson – 4 | Community – 3.7

This was an awful outing, and there is frankly too much to type. Multiple San Jose players were allowed to foul indiscriminately in the midfield, which greatly assisted their man-marking scheme. When cards were given, they were for first fouls (Medranda) or things that later weren’t carded (handballs). It made a complete mockery of the rules and there wasn’t much other than fury to be had from it.

One thing I liked: He at least tried to play advantage a few times, even if he didn’t ever penalize the fouler with a card.

Things I didn’t like: Judson had seven fouls that I counted, was only credited with three, and was allowed to run around hacking people with zero repercussions. No yellow, no warning, nothing. By comparison, JP had a single foul and was given a yellow for a 53rd minute handball that he attempted to trap with his shoulder.

Going forward: The less I say about this performance the better.

San Jose Earthquakes MOTM

Espinoza scored what proved to be the winner. Espinoza is your Man of the Match. He did well to shift his hips and take the space Shane gave him to the inside. Once there, he dispatched coolly past Stef Cleveland.


Seattle is on short rest against a Dallas team that MLS says is “a team on the rise.” The Sounders must play better than they have the last few games.