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Seattle Sounders vs. Minnesota United: Player ratings

Cristian Roldan kicks for the cycle as Sounders complete comeback.

Seattle returned to the scene of their biggest triumph a mere week and a half ago. Since then, there were two games with mostly backups. But back at Lumen Field, with a more standard lineup, came a more standard scoreline. The match was close, with each side having a number of opportunities to take advantage, but it was the Sounders who were ultimately better and who dominated both statistically and on the scoreboard. The 3-1 final was the appropriate result, with the home team creating and converting on the better chances over the course of the match. Seattle leaned on their superior star power and got quality impact from across the lineup sheet.


Goalkeeper

Stefan Frei – 6 | Community – 7.5

Frei returned to the starting lineup and while he didn’t get a shutout, he did enough to keep the team in the match long enough to win. He ended with three saves and did well to prevent any rebounds or opportunities in distribution.

One thing I liked: A 25th minute save was massive, reflexively pawing away a flicked set piece header. On this play, Stefan once again showed his incredible hand strength, parrying the attempt with ridiculous reflexes.

One thing I didn’t like: Seattle looked vulnerable on corner kicks for much of the night, and conceded 10. This isn’t a sustainable ratio.

Going forward: Frei is almost always going to do the good thing and occasionally comes out with the great thing. This means many wins if the offense can score one or more per match.

Defense

Nouhou – 6 | Community – 6.0

Nouhou followed up a midweek cameo (and goal!) with a start within a more standard lineup and did many things right. His 59 touches were mainly defensive and controlled, and he had a very safe passing clip of 88 percent.

One thing I liked: Defensively, Nouhou was excellent, stopping nearly everything down his side, continually dispossessing ex-Sounder Oniel Fisher, and even dropping in a nice 38th minute cross in a rare appearance up the field.

One thing I didn’t like: In the 34th minute a poor touch inside his own area led to an unfortunate self-meg and instant goal for Minnesota. Nouhou has to be better that deep in his own box, and he must clear danger cleanly.

Going forward: Don’t worry, the Nouhou “shield the ball 15 yards out of bounds for a goal kick while opponent futilely fails to shove him over” happened in the 90th minute. It’s fun to have defensive moments to look for such as these, and Nouhou rarely disappoints.

Xavier Arreaga – 7 | Community – 6.6

Arreaga was an aggressive, forward-looking central defender against Minnesota, consistently getting forward and pushing the ball vertically when possible. He was clean with the ball in these occasions, converting 87 percent. He led the team with five clearances and three interceptions.

One thing I liked: With the Loons dropping their forward line back, Arreaga consistently stepped up to close this space, intercept passes, and convert stolen possession into immediate attacking threats for Seattle. Xavi dribbling forward with his head up and finding a pass in the 70th was excellent.

One thing I didn’t like: Standard defense on a deep block was a struggle at times for Seattle, and Arreaga whiffed in both the 19th and 28th minutes when attempting tackles. This is problematic when you are the last defender, and he needs to limit his aggressiveness when close to his own goal.

Going forward: Xavier Arreaga has solidified his role in the center of the defense and looks solid distributing to a midfield that is still a bit unsettled, but will need to play a smidge more defense-first.

Yeimar – 7 | Community – 6.6

Yeimar had a busy defensive evening, and touched the ball the fourth-most on the team (70 touches). Very consistent, Yeimar worked well to support an at-times leaky central channel while also enabling Alex Roldan to get forward in the second half.

One thing I liked: Three tackles, three interceptions, two clearances, 12 duels — these are the numbers from a rock-solid defensive outing. Yeimar consistently won his individual battles and made strong decisions with the ball in distribution (88 percent passing).

One thing I didn’t like: A bad foul in the 92nd minute gave Minnesota a dangerous free kick and earned him a yellow.

Going forward: Yeimar is back to full form, which is bad news for opponents.

Alex Roldan – 6 | Community – 6.5

Alex was relatively quiet against Minnesota, concentrating more on defensive work than offense, but was still able to positively influence teammates around him. He had the second-most touches and two key passes.

One thing I liked: Roldan was quite active early, setting the tone with a 9th minute overlap and putting in three quality crosses in the first half.

One thing I didn’t like: It was clear the BRoldan side of the field needed to pick it up in the second half, and while Alex did help enable his brother, he wasn’t as directly impactful on the match.

Going forward: Roldan looks to have improved his defense in the offseason and earlier this year, and he’s adjusted fantastically from RWB to RB.

Defensive Midfield

Obed Vargas 5 | Community – 5.7 (off 61’ for Rowe)

Obed continues to be the first-choice player to pair with Albert Rusnák in the defensive midfield but has produced mixed results. Against Minnesota, Vargas had 45 touches and earned a clean 88 percent completion rate on a number of short passes.

One thing I liked: Vargas retained his composure, even after suffering his 4th foul of the match early in the second half. He uses this clarity to look for creative and unique plays.

One thing I didn’t like: Defensively, Obed was mostly lost, depending on teammates to cover as he lost runs vertically on a fair number of occasions. Starting with a 10th minute yellow card that forced him to play tentatively, Vargas whiffed badly in the 19th, and struggled defensively in general. Obed was slow in rotating to wide support angles to help Alex or Nouhou on the width.

Going forward: Expecting Vargas to have JP-level range is unreasonable, but he can rotate and support better than he’s doing. This is an experience thing and something he can learn, but it may be necessary to give another player a chance while Obed works it out.

Albatross Snack – 7 | Community – 7.2

Snack was great in this match, doing a huge number of little things that added up to a Sounders win. He had 83 touches, 87 percent completion rate, two shots, six duels, multiple penetrating passes, and he split set piece duty. He was very active.

One thing I liked: Albert did his job controlling the midfield, while repeatedly showing that little touch of class that raised the play of the entire team, including multiple line-breaking passes. A 45th minute through ball was fantastic and ended in a shot off the post; his 49th minute ball to Cristian helped earn the first Sounders goal.

One thing I didn’t like: A gift-wrapped defensive blunder from Minnesota resulted in Albert Rusnák, the ball, and an open shot from the penalty spot in the 71st minute. If you want to shush your critics, you need to score that.

Going forward: The little shoulder shrug Albatross does in the middle of the field to create separation before dropping an inch perfect pass to Roldan in on goal for a tying PK is the kind of thing that this player does a dozen times a match, and while it doesn’t show in the box score, I see you, Snack.

Attacking Midfield

Jordan Morris – 7 | Community – 6.6 (off 87’ for Atencio)

Morris continually surged up the left, getting into great attacking areas with only the post stopping him from scoring at least once. This led to a game-high four shots, and he added two key passes to set up teammates.

One thing I liked: Jordan nearly scored in the 32nd minute, getting on the end of a Rusnák-Ruidíaz combination and chipping deftly past the keeper, only to be denied by the post. This direct play showed the right choices on each aspect of the sequence.

One thing I didn’t like: Other than an (admittedly important) pass leading up to Roldan’s goal, Morris faded somewhat in the second half, and was less effective either due to stronger Minnesota defense or the number of off-ball runs he made to clear room for Cristian.

Going forward: Jordan Morris continues to be a problem for opponents. Already poised to get in behind, he is also linking up centrally and playing more consistently with Ruidíaz up top, making good decisions and connecting well with others.

Nico Lodeiro– 8 | Community – 7.4

For the first time in a couple of years, I felt Lodeiro was “back.” He has had glimpses of his old form (most notably the CCL final. Hey, remember that game?) but this was his most complete performance in quite some time. He had 94 touches (game high), three shots, a key pass, 84 percent passing, team-high 16 duels, four dribbles, four corners taken, and a game-sealing goal. Nico’s footprints were all over this match.

One thing I liked: Healthy Nico Lodeiro has pin-perfect passing and he plays the entire field. This was that, as he was everywhere. Drifting into pockets, connecting with teammates, dropping in runners, clogging up the middle defensively, oh, and a calm finish to slam the door late.

One thing I didn’t like: Lodeiro had a few errors, including an unnecessary and ultimately stolen backheel in a buildup in the 58th minute, and missing an open Morris in the 81st for what could have been a massive chance.

Going forward: Having this level of Lodeiro will go a long way to soften the pain of losing JP from the squad. I’m cautiously optimistic that this level of movement and impact is the new norm.

Cristian Roldan – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 9.0 (MOTM)

For a half we got Cristian Roldan warming up, and while he was active, the BRoldan wing of the field was oddly quiet before intermission. At halftime Roldan leveled up, turning in a second-half power spike that was absolutely fantastic. He ended the match with two shots, three key passes, a goal, an assist, and a penalty earned: an essential part of all three Sounders goals.

One thing I liked: The second half buff was real. Starting with a direct run in the 50th minute, Cristian won a penalty driving into the box. In the 54th minute he put a perfect ball in to Ruidíaz that should have been a goal. Doing it himself twenty minutes later, Roldan hit a no-look banger from outside the box to give Seattle a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Instead of running to the corner late, Cristian found an unmarked Lodeiro for a third goal.

One thing I didn’t like: A poor 28th minute switch out of bounds was symbolic of a first half where Cristian was just a little off, failing to show his usual cohesion with his brother up the wing.

Going forward: No team can defend Cristian Roldan when he is in this form, and Seattle is uniquely set up to leverage his impact into much needed results.

Forward

Raúl Ruidíaz – 7 | Community – 7.1

Ruidíaz was active in a hybrid role, diverging from pushing high off the back shoulder of opponent fullbacks into dropping centrally to hold up and distribute. This led to a large (for him) 43 touches as Raúl linked with teammates in many key situations. He had three shots and a key pass for his efforts.

One thing I liked: Showing he can play well with his back to the goal, Raúl dropped a number of times to find possession and distribute, or, like in the 32nd minute when he got a ball from Rusnák, turned and put Morris in behind.

One thing I didn’t like: Raúl had a few close calls and some less than clean play. A big miss in the 64th minute cost Seattle a goal and his propensity to force passes to Lodeiro with other options available may come back to hurt the team.

Going forward: Getting all the way down here before even mentioning he tied the match up with a penalty kick is the sign of a great player doing excellent things every match. At this point, it’s expected that he’ll directly impact the scoreboard like that.

Substitutes

Kelyn Rowe – 6 | Community – 6.3 (on 61’ for Vargas)

Rowe entered as a straight swap for Vargas, slotting in next to Rusnák in the defensive midfield. Although he often played there last season with JP, this was the first time he had an extended run centrally with Albert, and Seattle looked much improved with him there.

One thing I liked: The defensive bite and work rate were immediately apparent upon Kelyn’s inclusion to the team, and it made a difference both ways.

One thing I didn’t like: Although he was good, Rowe is still prone to mistakes that often seem to be punished immediately. A poor 78th minute pass and misplayed corner kick sequence were more bad luck than anything else, but still problematic.

Going forward: Rowe’s play made an interesting argument for him to be the defensive midfield partner to Rusnák while the younger kids figure it out.

Josh Atencio – 5 | Community – 5.7 (on 87’ for Morris)

Atencio came in to give Morris a breather and add some more energy to the match. He played seven minutes and had five touches.

One thing I liked: Josh looked very calm on the ball, and his composure in a tough physical battle showed through.

One thing I didn’t like: I would have liked to see Atencio get more time to do something.

Going forward: Atencio appears to have been passed over by Vargas for central midfield minutes and by Jackson Ragen for centerback minutes. He needs to show he deserves minutes somewhere, anywhere, as the fixture congestion remains his best ally.

Referee

Joseph Dickerson – 5 | Community – 5.6

If it seems like Dickerson has done a lot of Sounders matches lately, it’s because he has. This was his ninth Sounders match in the last two seasons combined. He continues to do a decent job, calling 24 fouls this weekend while giving out seven yellow cards.

One thing I liked: Advantage play in this one was well utilized, correctly assessing the play and bringing it back when necessary. The cards were appropriately given and helped keep the match under control.

One thing I didn’t like: An uncalled high kick nearly led to a Minnesota goal, and I think Emanuel Reynoso deserved a yellow for a dirty undercut on Alex Roldan right before halftime. These were two of a number of questionable no-calls or lenient decisions.

Going forward: We’ve had this a lot referee lately, and while this was an overall okay performance, we have seen much better recently.

Minnesota United MOTM

Big Dayne surely had a more active afternoon than he would have liked, but did well to keep his team in it as long as he did. He was called upon immediately, as a slick Sounders interchange freed Ruidíaz to sting one at him from close range in the 4th minute. He came out aggressively in the 32nd, narrowing the angle and forcing Morris to only find the post. He’ll be frustrated to have finally conceded a penalty, especially since he guessed correctly and got fingers to it. A reaction save in the 70th following a poor clearance was impeccable.


Next up: More midweek matches mean it’s again time to test the team’s depth.