Seattle didn’t rotate their roster for this match, but the result was the same: another loss to a team they had no business losing to. The Sounders accomplished both a 2-0 and a 3-1 lead and yet neither was defensible, eventually losing at San Jose 4-3. Seattle allowed a ridiculous 23 shots and committed silly errors across the entirety of a match they should have won. It is beyond frustrating to again see them snatch mediocrity from the jaws of greatness. The team is showing concentration lapses around halftime and an inability to adjust when subs arrive, with a strangely fragile mental attitude that must be fixed immediately. I don’t know what to say at this point.
Stefan Frei – 3 | Community – 4.2
Four goals against. I’m not sure how many times in his Seattle career Stefan Frei has conceded four, but this was embarrassing from a guy who rated a 9 last time on the field. He didn’t make any memorable saves, gave up an absolute howler that completely changed the match, and struggled with distribution in a miserable outing.
One thing I liked: A wonky deflection in the 61st minute was “saved” from going out for a free corner kick.
One thing I didn’t like: It’s fair to imagine a world where Frei doesn’t completely bungle a shot directly at him in the 64th minute, allowing the Earthquakes a free goal and more importantly, hope, which they immediately translated into a tying, and then a winning, goal. Full disclosure: I’d have preferred that world.
Going forward: After seeing Stefan Frei stand on his head a few days ago, we know how good he can be. He doesn’t always have to be that guy, but he sure as heck can’t be this guy if Seattle wants success in a massive midweek clash.
Nouhou – 5 | Community – 5.1
Nouhou was okay in this match, getting four clearances, two tackles, and blocking four shots. His 70 percent passing was also okay, finding a lot of safe passes and some not-so-great link up play and hesitation on his left side.
One thing I liked: Nouhou was great defending down his side and he had to be, or San Jose may have had more. A 45th minute blocked shot saved Seattle from heading into halftime level, and it was his calm defending on the backside of the play that consistently bailed out frantic defensive scrums.
One thing I didn’t like: A pointless push on a late corner kick was penalized, allowing the Earthquakes a late winning goal from the spot.
Going forward: Nouhou is a great defender and will need to be one on Wednesday. For him, it is about eliminating the costly mental mistake while keeping his composure and leaning into his overwhelming physical talent.
Xavier Arreaga – 7 | Community – 5.6 (off 62’ for Yeimar)
Arreaga was strong as part of an at times desperate defensive team that allowed many shots but few quality looks. He had multiple tackles and clearances and even added a key pass and shot on goal for some two-way impact.
One thing I liked: His aerial defense was great, dealing with consistent crosses and clearing the ball on several corner kick defenses without committing penalties.
One thing I didn’t like: Xavi sometimes had a problem finding a pass, dribbling around looking for quick ball movement and nearly losing the ball on a few occasions, which led to 76 percent passing and several scary mistakes.
Going forward: The defense looked considerably stronger with Arreaga on the field, but to fully credit him for that would be presumptuous. His leadership and direction were lacking upon his removal. Xavi has been solid and is a lock to start midweek, but the team needs to find better defensive cohesion across the back six.
Jackson Ragen – 4 | Community – 4.5
Ragen had nearly 80 percent pass completion and several key headers defensively, but he struggled to deal with the San Jose movement in the box and consistently lost his mark. He had three clearances and two tackles.
One thing I liked: Showing some versatility, Ragen pushed to the left side and played as a left center back after Yeimar subbed in. He displayed some long passing as well, such as a 50th minute switch for Jordan Morris that opened the entire field.
One thing I didn’t like: Jackson has been nearly unflappable this season, but he got sloppy and lost concentration at a few big moments. None were bigger than in the 65th minute when he forced a ball central that was weak and intercepted, and the match was tied seconds later.
Going forward: Ragen has done better than expected this season, but like other young players is still growing and showing some youth. With Yeimar returning, Jackson likely still plays often as a sub and quality spot starter.
Alex Roldan – 5 | Community – 5.1
Roldan was active going forward, getting into the attack often but also was victimized defensively as San Jose came back. His four clearances co-led the Sounders, but he had a single key pass and only 81 percent passing.
One thing I liked: A 26th minute stolen pass gave Seattle a counterattack and Alex consistently drove into overlapping attacking areas in the first half, looking to pull the defense to his side which opened the entire field.
One thing I didn’t like: There were a lot of little errors that Alex struggled with, like a throw in directly to San Jose in the 36th minute or missing a wide-open Morris through on goal in the 44th, denying a massive chance. Misjudging a header late gave a free corner to San Jose, and we know how that ended.
Going forward: Seattle’s offense is often predicated on how this former walk-on plays on the wide right side, and he will need to show up for Seattle to win this week. There is legitimate reason to believe Alex can be a key to winning CCL.
Albert Rusnák – 5 | Community – 5.1
Albert had 47 touches and was clean on the ball, leading the starters with a stellar 91 percent passing clip. This didn’t directly result in shots for teammates, however, and he only managed a single attempt himself on goal. He added three tackles defensively.
One thing I liked: Albert makes great vertical runs into the box, and multiple times his direct runs created havoc for opposing defenses without receiving the ball.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 31st minute he tried to drop the ball in traffic defensively, which created havoc for his own team. I love his control and passing, but this was an example where “just clear it” was the play, advice the entire defense could have used.
Going forward: Rusnák gives Seattle an effective central defensive passing pairing to work through the middle better than ever. It also may be contributing to some of their defensive issues, and communication, not skill, will be the key moving forward.
João Paulo – 6 | Community – 5.7 (off 75’ for Vargas)
JP did what he does, leading the team with 82 touches and completing an 80 percent passing clip while dropping in three tackles, three interceptions, and three blocked shots defensively. He was missing from the offensive side of the ball.
One thing I liked: When Seattle looked the best it was often JP finding deep diagonals, opening Morris or Cristian Roldan through long balls, or linking through the middle with Nicolás Lodeiro. He wasn’t on the stat sheet directly, but often he was the “pass before the pass” on multiple strong Sounders chances.
One thing I didn’t like: When JP had a bad touch (or got beat to a ball like on SJ goal number three), Seattle is almost always taken advantage of. Asking him to be perfect is normally realistic, but should he have to be?
Going forward: João Paulo is an incredible player who I fully expect will raise his level of play against the upcoming midweek foe. With him touching the ball as much as he does, a lot of the team’s fortune is riding on his back.
Jordan Morris – 7 | Community – 5.7 (off 75’ for Medranda)
Morris was dynamic offensively, attacking again and again up the left and eventually getting on the scoreboard through a nifty central run. He had three shots to lead the team, added a key pass and was a constant threat to score or get in behind for his entire shift.
One thing I liked: SJ had few answers for Morris’ pace, with Jordan nearly RRBH in the 22nd, getting over the top in the 50th, and scoring in the 57th.
One thing I didn’t like: Morris scored, but missed Raúl Ruidíaz in the 23rd for a likely assist, and in the 37th had a 1-v-1 that, with better control, likely gets him a goal. A little tighter on a few plays and he could have put the game out of reach of teammates’ blunders leading to a loss.
Going forward: Morris puts an incredible amount of pressure on the opponents and will be needed to force the Pumas’ right back to defend, which will be key to limiting the Mexican team’s normal attack vector. Scoring on some of these near misses would be appreciated as well.
Nico Lodeiro – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 6.2 (off 83’ for Rowe)
Nico was once again up near the top of the touches list (72, second behind JP) and had a solid 80 percent passing completion rate. His creation wasn’t large quantity (one shot, two kay passes) but his contribution was of excellent quality, being involved in all Seattle goals with two assists and a penalty scored.
One thing I liked: Nico was dealing in the first half, scoring a 14th minute PK before assisting beautifully with curling service on a set piece in the 18th and from the run of play in the 57th. His connection forward in attacking goal was magnificent and reminded us of how game-breaking his passing can be.
One thing I didn’t like: Although effective offensively, Nico lacked his normal impact on the defensive side, often disappearing from play, and lacked his coverage that we’re used to seeing in the middle. This put more pressure on the center of the defense, and Lodeiro also forced the ball a few times instead of finding easier passes.
Going forward: Nico doesn’t look exactly like himself, but this match showed he can produce massive results while still working back to form. If allowed as much space as against SJ in the future, bank on similar output.
Cristian Roldan– 7 | Community – 6.3 (MOTM)
Cristian was all over the pitch in the first half, earning many of his 66 touches from new angles and positioning as he compensated for Nico’s increased roaming. He had a shot, a key pass, and when provided a chance to score, did that in the 19th minute.
One thing I liked: His ability to impact the game from all over the field was again on display, starting wide right and combining up the wing, getting central to combine, and even popping up on the left to connect with Morris on occasion. He scored an excellent header that gave Seattle what should have been an insurmountable two-goal lead.
One thing I didn’t like: Several poor touches led to a frustrated Roldan. He worked hard, but as early as the 80th minute looked tired, forced to repeatedly recover defensively and being unable to connect with his brother as much as we are used to.
Going forward: Roldan is a hybrid winger who cannot be defended when he is on form. He will need to bring this energy midweek, because it creates problems for teams who cannot match his intensity.
Raúl Ruidíaz – 6 | Community – 5.7 (off 82’ for Bruin)
Ruidíaz played as more of a holdup forward in this match, not getting behind a ton or finding service into the box, but dropping in to support and turning, showing some fancy dribbling. He touched the ball 36 times and had a very clean 91 percent passing rate, mostly back or square. He had two shots but was relatively quiet after creating the first big chance that should have put the match away.
One thing I liked: Raúl earned an early PK (and red card uncalled) by showcasing a bit of skill in the box in the 13th minute. His switch in the 57th after some nifty holdup play found a wide open Lodeiro for what should have been the final goal of the match.
One thing I didn’t like: He had to play 82 minutes as Seattle chased a game that they had no business keeping competitive, and he nearly got his leg broken for his efforts.
Going forward: Raúl is lucky that Nathan didn’t seriously hurt him. Seattle will need similar scoreboard output from Ruidíaz, who’ll be playing in a very hostile environment midweek that he should be familiar with.
Yeimar – 4 | Community – 5.0 (on 62’ for Arreaga)
It was nice to see Yeimar return. It wasn’t nice that everything fell apart almost immediately upon his insertion.
One thing I liked: He showed great defense directly after stepping on the field; a 63rd minute stand up and steal created a counter for Seattle.
One thing I didn’t like: Seattle rarely looks settled after a defensive sub. Shifting around the back line immediately led to communication and positioning errors that San Jose was happy to exploit. The Sounders conceded two goals immediately after Yeimar arrived on the field, and three in his 30-minute shift.
Going forward: Seattle’s best 11 has Yeimar on it.
Jimmy Medranda – 4 | Community – 3.7 (on 75’ for Morris)
Medranda came in and was active without being effective. Only nine touches and some hustle didn’t show a lot for Jimmy.
One thing I liked: An 82nd minute steal showcased some nice anticipation as he is excellent at jumping passing lanes and creating offense.
One thing I didn’t like: I don’t know whether he was trying too hard, but the field was crap and Medranda was slipping all over, leading to multiple defensive breakdowns. Adjusting to the surface would have been nice.
Going forward: Medranda hasn’t looked remotely like the player who made Brad Smith expendable in the offseason.
Obed Vargas – 5 | Community – 5.0 (on 75’ for João Paulo)
Obed came in to the middle to pair with Rusnák and was okay, finding the ball 14 times and completing all his passes to teammates.
One thing I liked: A 75th minute control in traffic was a reminder of just how gorgeous this young player’s touch and vision are.
One thing I didn’t like: He had very little impact, barely touching the ball and getting a single tackle on his defensive résumé. He compounded this by committing two fouls.
Going forward: Vargas is an immense talent but seems to be a supplementary piece at this point in his career.
Will Bruin – 4 | Community – 4.4 (on 82’ for Ruidíaz)
One thing I liked: Getting Raúl off the terrible field without being injured was a good call.
One thing I didn’t like: Bruin turned the ball over nearly every time he touched it and made diagonal runs to the corner as the biggest target on the field. He was credited with only two touches and an aerial won and failed to complete his single pass attempt.
Going forward: Will is just running around at this point.
Kelyn Rowe – 5 | Community – 4.7 (on 83’ for Lodeiro)
One thing I liked: Some slick dribbling reminded us that Rowe is comfortable in the middle of the field, and he showed great defense in the box in the 84th minute before adding a late shot on goal.
One thing I didn’t like: With an open volley and a chance to be a late hero in minute 87, Kelyn whiffed.
Going forward: Rowe is likely to play a lot, since he’s a known commodity all over the field, but he doesn’t show starting ability anywhere.
Ted Unkel – 4 | Community – 2.8
Let everything go early, call it tight late. This was the mantra of Unkel, and he followed that script. Ignoring physical play early but calling touch fouls late, he looked to be heavily refereeing the scoreboard.
One thing I liked: Immediately going to the spot early and ignoring a 52nd minute dive in the box were two nice decisions.
One thing I didn’t like: It’s a red card. Nathan comes in hard and high and cleats into the knee and frankly Raúl is lucky not to be seriously injured. But this ref doesn’t want the game to get out of hand so leaves the guy on the field by overruling his VAR. He doesn’t overrule VAR on a late and much less obvious penalty. The first call is indefensible. The second one less so, but the cumulative effect is frustrating.
Going forward: I’m not sure how many times Unkel has made the game about himself when refereeing Seattle matches, but I’ve rated about 10 Sounders matches that he’s done, so I am guessing about nine.
San Jose Earthquakes MOTM
Cristian Espinoza scored a hat trick, including the match-tying and match-winning goals, and for that, he earned Man of the Match. Now, his first of the three was well-earned as he reacted quickest to his own rebound (while Rusnák literally did not react at all). But his second was a shanked cross and his third was from the spot. Fine. Whatever. Take your award.
Next up: No one will care about this match if the real Seattle shows up in Mexico on Wednesday.