After a successful midweek match in New Jersey, Seattle played Inter Miami with a significantly rotated lineup and got punished severely for it. The backups treaded water for the first 40 minutes before conceding right before half. This deficit going into the break prompted tactical changes from both teams, with Miami parking the bus and Seattle adding more talent periodically throughout the second half. Both tactics worked. The Sounders ended with a massive 20 shots, but failed to translate any of those chances into goals. Twenty tiny chances were worth less than one big chance, and the backups didn’t show enough for a team rightly expecting more. Seattle had no business losing to a team that bad, especially at home.
Stefan Cleveland – 6 | Community – 6.1
Cleveland didn’t do anything special but didn’t make any mistakes. He was just there.
One thing I liked: A 36th minute cross was low and Stefan did well to hold on, as a spill centrally could have resulted in a goal against. A 77th minute save was the only other time he was credited.
One thing I didn’t like: I don’t think Cleveland could have saved the Miami goal, but being a little more aggressive on the numerous crosses from his left might have made a difference and gotten the team to halftime without conceding.
Going forward: After seeing Stefan Frei stand on his head a few days before, it’s hard to be satisfied with an average performance. Ultimately, though, Cleveland’s goalkeeping job was adequate and lived up to the expectations for him. He remains a good option to rest Frei.
Jimmy Medranda – 4 | Community – 3.9 (off 46’ for Alex Roldan)
Medranda had an incredibly turbulent match. Unfortunately, there were more downs than ups, with numerous defensive gaffes tainting his first start of 2022. He did have three tackles, two clearances, and an interception defensively to go with a shot on frame.
One thing I liked: There were some moments, such as an 8th minute central pass and 21st minute cross, where he showed some quality offense. When he lined up a volley for his lone shot of the match it was reasonable to expect him to do something spectacular with it.
One thing I didn’t like: Defensively, Jimmy was on roller skates, getting nutmegged in the 35th, beat consistently and being out of position, and he played a part in the defensive lapse that led to the goal. Medranda was not a functional part of the defensive shape.
Going forward: There’s room for Medranda’s slick passing and offensive firepower from the left on the team, but this performance made guys like Brad Smith look like DPOY in comparison. Medranda must improve to get any further looks on a team that is defense-oriented.
Xavier Arreaga – 6 | Community – 6.2
Xavi got the short stick, playing babysitter to youth all around him and some creative wide options. He did his job well, with a tackle, two interceptions, two clearances, and a sparkling 94 percent passing clip. Unfortunately, his issues came in connection to teammates and being a leader of the backline. Seattle was continually out of shape and discombobulated, and a lot of that falls on Arreaga.
One thing I liked: He continually put out fires, either through the leaky middle or being pulled to his left to defend in behind. He showed nice lateral awareness, getting over to support in the 34th and 39th minutes and making key contributions.
One thing I didn’t like: Seattle didn’t have a cohesive defensive plan and Xavi seemed to be in a three back, sweeping instead of marking. This may have been borne of necessity and tactical shifts around player styles, but it left him stranded a number of times, especially on the Miami goal sequence.
Going forward: Arreaga looked okay surrounded by lesser talent, and he was playing on short rest. We can assume he is an integral part of any success going forward, and will take the experience of playing with a diverse lineup into future, more important matches.
Abdoulaye Cissoko – 6 | Community – 5.6
Cissoko was fine against Miami, showing improved play since the last time we saw him, slotting into centerback next to Arreaga and exhibiting MLS-level play. His 85 touches tied for the team lead, and he turned in 86 percent passing on the afternoon.
One thing I liked: Time and again in the first half the Seattle defense was pulled apart centrally or towards the left, and Cissoko came across to support where others were lacking. A 1-v-1 defensive stop against Leonardo Campana in the 64th minute was tremendous.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 37th minute AB had a bad header and was unfortunately not able to score his first goal as a Sounder on a decent chance.
Going forward: After his last performance, there was legitimate concern that Cissoko hadn’t just been passed by Jackson Ragen (he has), but that he had taken a step back. This outing alleviated those concerns, with Abdoulaye showing solid fundamentals and adding himself to a deep Sounders team full of MLS-level depth.
Kelyn Rowe – 6 | Community – 5.3
Kelyn Rowe played and barely registered, which as an outside back is a relatively good thing. He had a team-high 85 touches, completed a clean 82 percent of his passes, and added two shots and some solid, unremarkable defense.
One thing I liked: Rowe’s versatility was again on display, starting on the right side and forming a strong partnership with Cissoko before moving to the left at halftime to get the more dynamic Alex Roldan in his usual space. His steady play from both wings was needed.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 40th minute Rowe tracked a runner, got a bit lost and was part of a scrambling cross play that ultimately ended with Miami scoring a game-winning goal.
Going forward: Rowe’s role on this team seems fairly well defined at this point: a multipurpose tool who is used not as much to highlight his own skills, but for tactical flexibility and to better leverage the upsides of teammates. When not asked to do too much, Kelyn adds value as a bench option.
Danny Levya – 5 | Community – 5.3 (off 71’ for Rusnák)
Leyva returned to a starting job in the Seattle defensive midfield and struggled for much of his 70-minute stint. Within his 74 touches Danny found two key passes and had an 85 percent completion rate, but he had a hard time finding his defensive shape, with Miami consistently victimizing the middle of the park.
One thing I liked: Early on, Danny connected well through the midfield, finding vertical passes to teammates and being calm on the ball. His set piece service was a pleasant addition.
One thing I didn’t like: Leyva forgot the defensive part of defensive midfielder, recording just a single tackle defensively and virtually no other recordable actions. Tracking runners through the middle, spacing with teammates, and simple things like covering for midfield and defensive teammates on switching were a struggle. He was nowhere to be found on the Miami goal, a moment indicative of his defensive lapses.
Going forward: Danny Leyva is a good player but he has to show more in the opportunities given to continue finding time on a team that is deep at his position. Having a bit of on-field success is imperative to keep his trajectory upwards.
Josh Atencio – 5 | Community – 5.2 (off 46’ for Cristian Roldan)
Two tackles, an interception, three shots to co-lead the team, and a key pass. Atencio did a lot of things that showed up in the stat book in just 45 minutes of gametime, but they weren’t enough to keep him on the field after halftime.
One thing I liked: All the above stats were great, but I appreciated the consistent control and awareness that Atencio showed to earn those accolades. His ability to trap in traffic, turn out of pressure, find clean passes (did I mention 89 percent completion?) and defend through the middle was excellent.
One thing I didn’t like: There were a few errant passes, he could have done better with a 30th minute shot, and his connection in the middle with Leyva was a massive drop from what we’ve come to expect from the Sounders.
Going forward: I’m not sure why he was subbed, as he was the better of the two defensive midfielders. Seattle added another DP-level player at his position in the offseason, and an injury has slowed Josh’s return to the team, but his skills were in evidence against Miami. Atencio remains a young depth piece with a high upside.
Léo Chú – 5 | Community – 5.1 (off 85’ for Lodeiro)
Chú got the start and remains an enigma. He had two shots from his 46 touches and added two tackles as well. The left was an adventure in the first half, with the ChúRanda wing massively struggling on the defensive side, but showing glimpses of offensive potential.
One thing I liked: Chú is a direct soccer force, continually pushing into forward areas and attempting to score every time he touches the ball.
One thing I didn’t like: He had 85 minutes to show something other than driving directly at the defense, going left on the dribble and shooting or sending hopeful crosses to the far post. Still waiting.
Going forward: Léo Chú is an exciting player, but there are dimensions of his game to work on. He clearly needs to find some diversity in his play, and he won’t see playing time outside of spot sub opportunities until he finds a way to be impactful for more than five minutes per outing.
Fredy Montero – 5 | Community – 5.3
Fredy started at attacking central midfield and was part of an inconsistent attack that often did the right thing but lacked the final touch or unlocking pass. He had 65 touches and often directed traffic forward.
One thing I liked: Three shots and two key passes are good stats from attacking midfield, and Fredy did well to get others involved early and often.
One thing I didn’t like: Combining in midfield with four U-23s, Fredy at times was lost, as his style of control and unlock was offset by overzealous teammates. Conversely, he was sometimes too slow to recognize vertical movement. His 71 percent passing was often a byproduct of missing runs or failing to combine with the other midfielders who weren’t on the same page.
Going forward: Fredy has value for this team as another goalscoring threat, and has some versatility to drop a line and help create. In this game (and others) Seattle needed him to be a scorer, not a provider, and his role moving forward is likely veteran sub minutes in attacking roles.
Obed Vargas – 5 | Community – 5.5
Vargas returned to the wing, again showcasing some versatility as a wide player after doing well in the center this season. He was clean with the ball, having a 92 percent completion rate and touching the ball 61 times.
One thing I liked: Vargas’ best moments came when he looked more natural on the ball, and those came after he moved to the center. He had two key passes, offering some creative flair.
One thing I didn’t like: Especially after moving into the middle and touching the ball a lot more, Vargas was a turnover machine, repeatedly losing the ball on ill-advised dribbles and poor angles.
Going forward: Vargas doesn’t look to be a revolutionary wide player for Seattle, and that’s okay because he just may be that centrally. Getting him on the field anywhere is good for his development and he retains a high upside, but performances like this one against Miami remind us that he has a lot to work on.
Will Bruin – 5 | Community – 5.1 (off 70’ for Ruidíaz)
Twenty-three touches, a dismal 67 percent passing, a missed shot and a single key pass were the stats for an uninspired Will Bruin outing. Failing to connect with his teammates, Will was not on the same page and unable to find spaces to combine with other Sounders.
One thing I liked: Nice pressure in the 22nd minute by Will put the Miami defense in trouble, with Seattle stealing the ball and directly earning a shot from his effort.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 60th minute Bruin had a fantastic chance on a free header to put the Sounders on the board and turn the entire match in Seattle’s favor. He headed three yards wide of the entire goal. Sigh.
Going forward: Last year Will Bruin struggled for most of the year, but appeared to display his old form so far this year. This match was a step back. He needs to show more than just inconsistent hustle and must finish better to continue to get scarce striker sub minutes.
Cristian Roldan – 7 (MOTM) | Community – 6.5 (MOTM) (on 46’ for Atencio)
Roldan came on and was excellent, continually driving the team forward and finding space to combine up the right.
One thing I liked: Three shots, a key pass, 92 percent passing: Roldan was everywhere and involved in most of the best Sounders chances.
One thing I didn’t like: Although he set up others on a number of occasions (such as Bruin in the 60th) his own shooting was off, finding the stands and only getting one attempt on target.
Going forward: Cristian Roldan can legitimately claim to be the MVP of the team so far this season, on a team full of MVP-level players. That’s it, that’s the comment.
Alex Roldan – 6 | Community – 6.1 (on 46’ for Medranda)
I’d like to think that Coach wasn’t going to play Alex but he just subbed himself in when he saw his brother going in. His effort was what we have come to expect, playing both sides of the ball well and getting 54 touches in a very active second half of play.
One thing I liked: It was his connection with his brother in the 60th minute that opened up the defense, and this incredible combination is nothing short of phenomenal.
One thing I didn’t like: No key passes from a guy who has become key to the team’s success.
Going forward: His brother may be pushing for team MVP, but there’s an argument to be made that Alex Roldan has been the key to the offensive success for Seattle. When he is on, the right side is transformed into an unstoppable force.
Raúl Ruidíaz – 5 | Community – 5.8 (on 70’ for Bruin)
Raúl subbed in for the last 20 minutes and didn’t find a lot of service but still showed a number of near misses.
One thing I liked: Although he only touched the ball 14 times, Raúl created two shots, a key pass, and had an impeccable 6/6 passing.
One thing I didn’t like: Ruidíaz didn’t get the ball enough, and instead of finding the pockets and runs he makes, Seattle too often settled for high crosses, which don’t play to his strengths.
Going forward: Ruidíaz got some exercise and looked dangerous. He is a safe bet to start every important match while healthy, and looks locked into a lone striker role for the near future.
Albert Rusnák – 7 | Community – 6.0 (on 71’ for Leyva)
Rusnák was dropped into the defensive midfield to offer some creation and stability and did his job.
One thing I liked: On only 39 touches, Rusnák created magic time and again. He ended with four key passes in 20 minutes and was the main creative force for Seattle while on the field.
One thing I didn’t like: Seattle needed central midfield support earlier than the 70th minute.
Going forward: Rusnák has been reborn as a dynamic deep-lying playmaker whose ridiculous control and vision have transformed the center of the field for Seattle into a creative melting pot of styles. His ability to fit into this team immediately has made him essential.
Nico Lodeiro – 5 | Community – 5.6 (on 85’ for Chú)
Nico got five minutes to run and had 16 inconsequential touches.
One thing I liked: Adding Lodeiro brought more vertical passing and quicker transition, a needed aspect of a team that had been blindly crossing too much.
One thing I didn’t like: With Lodeiro coming off an injury in the offseason and working back to speed, it seemed odd to drop him in with a mere five minutes to play. Either more time to transition into the game and get warmed up, or zero time in order to protect him may have been more prudent.
Going forward: Seattle is no longer the team that only goes as far as Nico Lodeiro takes them, but they have a higher ceiling when he is fit and part of the team. I often wondered how the Sounders would look with Nico dropping a line, but now that Rusnák has taken that role, Lodeiro needs to integrate into all the incredible attacking pieces.
Joseph Dickerson – 7 | Community – 6.0
Dickerson has reffed a number of Sounders matches in the last few years and again he was very good. His calls made sense, he handled the match, and it went by very quickly as the teams were relatively clean.
One thing I liked: The cards were warranted and although Dickerson rightfully called Miami for a large number of fouls (20), he kept the game clean.
One thing I didn’t like: Christopher McVey got a deserved 40th minute yellow card but then committed three or four more fouls when defending the Broldans in the second half. He seemed incapable of either not fouling people, or getting carded off the field.
Going forward: This referee has done a good job over his tenure at PRO and continues to be a positive name to see on the game sheet prior to kickoff.
Inter Miami MOTM
Local-kid-made-good DeAndre Yedlin came through with a nice percentage of this week’s MOTM vote, outperforming his colleagues and nearly pulling off the coveted pie chart Pac-Man in the process.
Next up: Seattle needs to get points away in San Jose this weekend against a team without a coach, while conserving energy and staying fit for the big game four days later in Mexico.