The Sounders will not participate in the playoffs for the first time in their MLS existence after a thoroughly disappointing end to a disappointing summer. Faced with yet another must-win game, the Sounders were unable to do what it took to get a positive result, thereby forcing other teams to perform in the last week of the regular season. The tired Seattle team showed its fatigue, giving up a goal near the end of the first half and, unable score themselves, lost 1-0 to Sporting Kansas City. The game was a microcosm of the last few months, with a listless, uninspired effort from Seattle. There were some highlights from an individual player or two, but the team lacked the intensity and desire we are used to seeing from this proud franchise.
Stefan Frei – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 8.3 (MOTM)
Similar to other games lately, there were a few people who were up to the challenge of fighting for a playoff match, and it was Frei who stood out in this one. The now-usual defensive mistakes that have plagued the team for months were again readily apparent as SKC had numerous scoring chances on the way to forcing 10 saves from Frei.
One thing I liked: It was Frei and Frei alone who kept Seattle from conceding a half dozen times in the first half, making one massive save after another. The best came in the 28th minute as somehow Stefan was able to first parry a deflected shot wide and then block the point blank follow-up to briefly keep SKC at bay.
One thing I didn’t like: It wasn’t enough. For all the great acrobatic saves Frei made, the decision to play short to Yeimar in the 41st minute proved to be fatal, as Seattle coughed up possession and the game-winning goal in short order.
Going forward: If the offense had produced even remotely close to its capabilities, the one goal Frei conceded would have been inconsequential.
Nouhou – 6 | Community – 5.5
Nouhou had a subdued match at left back, limiting the SKC attack down his side but not charging into the attack much. Ostensibly, his defensive work should have released the offense to exploit space in front of him, but this didn’t happen. He ended with 79 percent passing and a key pass.
One thing I liked: Three tackles and three clearances forced all the offense for SKC to go to the opposite side of the field to find purchase, as Nouhou mostly removed Johnny Russell from the match, limiting him to two contested shots.
One thing I didn’t like: One of Russell’s shots came in the 52nd minute after some questionable decision making to leave the Kansas player wide open. Nouhou’s defense didn’t translate to forward momentum.
Going forward: Nouhou locked down his side and Seattle seems particularly unable to leverage these individual wins in the other direction.
Xavier Arreaga – 6 | Community – 4.9 (off 65’ for Bruin)
Arreaga was part of a defense that managed to be under pressure for most of the match even though possession was split evenly. Whether it was miscommunications with each other at the back or dysfunctional midfield cohesion, Xavi struggled to impact the match in the ways he previously has.
One thing I liked: Seattle nearly got to halftime with a bend-but-don’t-break+Frei defensive plan, and Arreaga had a few key interceptions to limit the number of defensive breakdowns to a nearly manageable handful.
One thing I didn’t like: With only 30 touches, Arreaga was a nonfactor in the possession and attacking push, unlike earlier in the season when he was able to find incisive and line splitting passes through the midfield.
Going forward: This was another blah game that was uninspiring.
Yeimar – 5 | Community – 5.0
Yeimar turned in another statistically strong outing that was marred by some large gaffes. Three tackles, three interceptions, four clearances, a blocked shot, and 80 percent passing were only part of the story, which was a near carbon copy of his performance in the previous match.
One thing I liked: Yeimar filled up the stat sheet, continuing to lead the league in interceptions and playing an aggressive, attacking style of defense.
One thing I didn’t like: Yeimar does the right thing for his stats but doesn’t always make the right play for the team. His terrible clearance in the 41st minute directly led to the SKC goal, as his pass was awful and immediately recycled into goal.
Going forward: Yeimar was both excellent and struggled in this match, something we have seen frequently in the second half of this season.
Alex Roldan – 5 | Community – 4.9
Alex had a nondescript match, not creating much impact in any aspect of the game. His stat line of 73 touches, 92 percent passing, three tackles, and three clearances was fine.
One thing I liked: Roldan was clean on the ball, consistently getting out of pressure by finding central outlets.
One thing I didn’t like: Zero shots, zero key passes, 0/5 crosses. Alex not only failed to be a positive offensive force, he was actually a negative one.
Going forward: Seattle can run out a front six as offensively capable as any in the league, yet it only looks effective if the outside backs are their best attacking players. Seems like a problem.
Danny Leyva – 4 | Community – 4.8 (off 46’ for Montero)
Leyva continued his late-season struggles, subbing at half after an ineffective midfield shift that saw Seattle struggle to defend well or create much offense in a sluggish 45 minutes.
One thing I liked: Part of his 89 percent passing included a key pass, a rarity in the first half.
One thing I didn’t like: Seattle’s midfield was completely run over, with Leyva and crew forced to race around putting out fires defensively without any cohesive team movement forward.
Going forward: This match showed (again) the lack of central playmaking from the starting defensive midfield pair, something that will need to be rectified.
Joshua Atencio – 5 | Community – 5.2 (off 81’ for Chú)
Atencio again was the more defensive player of the central midfield pair and had three tackles and two interceptions in this role. He had 58 touches over a hectic 80 minutes that saw him paired with different partners centrally yet remaining deeper and compact with the center backs.
One thing I liked: In the 77th minute he was beaten and smartly took a yellow for a professional foul. This is the kind of thing Seattle teams aren’t known for, but it was an inspired decision that prevented a break and showed an understanding of his role.
One thing I didn’t like: Josh didn’t have a lot of agency in the match but fumbled away a poor clear near halftime that nearly backfired, and in one of his few forays forward dribbled directly to the defense in the 64th minute.
Going forward: Atencio looks like a bad fit to be the more defensive of two midfielders.
Albert Rusnák – 5 | Community – 5.4
Rusnák started on the left wing and was almost completely absent from the match. Not a player who demands possession, it was still shocking how little Seattle utilized him in the first half. He ended with 52 touches and 81 percent passing.
One thing I liked: A 7th minute flick to Nouhou showed some good communication on the wing.
One thing I didn’t like: Albert was forcing things, but in a way that asked other teammates to do more than they were willing, such as a pointless over the top pass in the 59th minute that lost possession due to lack of a run.
Going forward: DP level attacking players shouldn’t have zero shots, zero key passes, and in this game zero impact. Deferring always to others was a poor choice.
Nico Lodeiro – 5 | Community – 5.0
Nico had a lot of agency in the match, mostly because he had the ball nearly twice as much as any other offensive player. He earned two shots and contributed two key passes from his 90 touches.
One thing I liked: A deep run in the 25th was nice, as was a 31st minute over the top try for Rusnák.
One thing I didn’t like: Seattle desperately needed Nico to find Jordan Morris, either in the 8th, 11th, or 36th minutes, any of which would have done dual duty: 1) get Jordan involved in a game he was absent from, and 2) stretch the SKC defense and create space for a beleaguered midfield. He badly missed all of these passes.
Going forward: If you are going to demand the ball 100 times a match you need to do more with it.
Cristian Roldan – 5 | Community – 5.8 (off 76’ for Dobbelaere)
Cristian hustled up and down the wing without any of the polish he showed before being injured. His 48 touches were active on the wing, leading to a shot, two key passes, and 79 percent completion rate.
One thing I liked: A great chance in the 25th minute looked to be a goal but was blocked.
One thing I didn’t like: When Cristian lost possession, Seattle scrambled to adjust, and in the 38th he did this, leading to some SKC possession and contributing to Seattle’s first half downfall.
Going forward: Roldan played hard after being hurt but was ineffective.
Jordan Morris – 4 | Community – 4.6 (off 76’ for Medranda)
Morris played. He had 15 touches. One shot, one key pass.
One thing I liked: A 75th minute pass slipped Will Bruin through for what should have been a decent chance.
One thing I didn’t like: Morris didn’t do enough in a must-win game and then subbed out early.
Going forward: Seattle had no way to get Jordan the ball and he didn’t demand it.
Fredy Montero – 7 | Community – 6.2 (on 46’ for Leyva)
Fredy came in at half and nearly won the game single-handedly for Seattle, creating all of their best chances and doing more than anyone else in the offense combined.
One thing I liked: A 54th minute spin move was gorgeous, getting into the box and nearly scoring. A close shot in the 68th nearly scored. Another shross was forced over. Fredy was the offense (again).
One thing I didn’t like: In the 62nd minute, Montero earned a PK that not only wasn’t called on the field, but it was also VAR’d and then ignored by the ref. Because of course it was.
Going forward: Frei and Montero were almost enough.
Will Bruin – 5 | Community – 4.3 (on 65’ for Arreaga)
Bruin got a long run out and did very little.
One thing I liked: Will was credited with a shot in the 75th minute, which earned a corner kick after some creative fumbling.
One thing I didn’t like: Of his 15 total touches, none were headers as Bruin tried to be a playmaker more than a target man.
Going forward: This was a normal appearance for Bruin.
Ethan Dobbelaere – 5 | Community – 5.0 (on 76’ for C. Roldan)
Ethan replaced Cristian on the right wing and got 12 touches in his time on the field.
One thing I liked: 100 percent passing and a shot.
One thing I didn’t like: Dobbelaere was lost as the Seattle offense degraded to frantically kicking the ball forward and hoping things happened.
Going forward: This was a normal appearance for Dobbelaere.
Jimmy Medranda – 5 | Community – 4.4 (on 75’ for Morris)
Seattle threw on numbers and fresh legs in an attempt to get someone interested in winning. Medranda had 18 touches.
One thing I liked: Replacing Morris, Jimmy had more touches than Jordan in one-fifth of the minutes.
One thing I didn’t like: Medranda did nothing to improve the offense, which is where Seattle desperately needed help.
Going forward: This was a normal appearance for Medranda.
Léo Chú – 4 | Community – 4.0 (on 81’ for Atencio)
Seattle threw on numbers and fresh legs in an attempt to get someone interested in winning. Chú had 12 touches.
One thing I liked: Léo managed 100 percent passing, finding teammates every time!
One thing I didn’t like: Chú did nothing to improve the offense, which is where Seattle desperately needed help.
Going forward: This was a normal appearance for Chú.
Ted Unkel – 4 | Community – 4.4
What do you expect from Unkel at this point? He had a typical match where he let some things go, did fine overall, but again was bad, like he was earlier this year against San Jose. This ref refuses to make the (correct) big call where it’s advantageous to Seattle this season.
One thing I liked: Ignoring Dániel Sallói trying to throw himself at the ground in the 56th minute was nice, although a card for simulation would have been better.
One thing I didn’t like: It’s a PK. Fredy is clearly fouled in the 62nd minute. Unkel not only got this wrong live, but then was told by VAR that it was a PK, went and looked, and doubled down on his wrong call. Then gave a goal kick. What a #*&$#)* farce.
Going forward: He retired from international soccer. Next, do the same from MLS, please.
Sporting Kansas City MOTM
SKC’s new strikering addition, William Agada, did goalscoring. And for that, he walks away with this Man of the Match award. He provided the first part of Frei’s double-save in the 17th minute, then both parts of Frei’s double-save in the 28th. He also scored the only goal of the match in the 41st.
Next up: For the first time in this team’s history, there is a match with zero riding on the outcome upcoming. That is so very sad.