Seattle Sounders continued their return to MLS dominance, again starting their preferred players and again winning. Even on short rest and in some adverse weather, the Sounders had enough quality to create when it counted, and a valiant defensive effort earned a shutout. The game ended 1-0 for Seattle, with both teams playing down a man when two players received second yellows and were sent off. Although clearly running out of steam late, Seattle held on for their second consecutive league win as they charge up the standings.
Stefan Frei – 7 (MOTM) | Community – 7.1
Frei earned a much-needed shutout and did enough to defend against 14 shots from Houston. Overall, his goalkeeping was solid, although a few unexpected moments went in Seattle’s favor in his goal box. Stefan handled possession against the press very well.
One thing I liked: A 23rd minute save was what we expect from Frei, and due to his near-perfect positioning, this play became routine. Another more frantic scramble in the 68th ended with the same result: the ball cradled in the arms of the Seattle goalkeeper.
One thing I didn’t like: The Sounders’ set piece defense has looked quite vulnerable lately, and this game was another example. Although not conceding, Frei seems rooted to his line and the defense in front of him has consistently allowed quality chances. Something needs to change.
Going forward: Frei has had some matches where he was unlucky with the defense in front of him, but he will not allow easy chances. Teams must be fantastic to even sniff his goal.
Nouhou – 7 | Community – 6.8
Nouhou on short rest was fine, displaying a tremendous 94 percent passing rate while judiciously choosing his moments to go forward. He did a little bit of everything, with two each of clears, interceptions, and tackles.
One thing I liked: There has been gradual improvement on Nouhou’s offensive decision making, and an excellent 18th minute cross was part of some smart soccer from the left back.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 12th minute Nouhou charged into the box and just missed a tremendous pass from Nico Lodeiro. Too bad; it would have been exciting to see what the Cameroonian did with it.
Going forward: Nouhou was clearly tired late but was still up to the task of tracking fresh Houston legs subbed in. He may be due a rest this weekend.
Xavier Arreaga – 7 | Community – 6.9
Arreaga again showcased tremendous aggression from the back in the center, something that helps support the midfield shape. He was excellent in possession, with 92 percent passing and rarely putting a pass awry.
One thing I liked: Xavi being aggressive in the middle can happen defensively (game-high five interceptions) and offensively (42nd minute line-splitting pass). His ability to positively affect the match in both directions is outstanding.
One thing I didn’t like: Arreaga rides the edge between safe and too risky, and the potential for things to go wrong is definitely there. A 14th minute pass central was an example, as he chose the dangerous pass over something more reserved from deep.
Going forward: With the defensive starters set and adjusting to their roles and coordination with each other, Xavier is a known commodity who picks his moments well and consistently provides quality play in support of the midfield.
Yeimar – 7 | Community – 6.9
Yeimar didn’t have many highlight plays, because he was quietly doing almost everything right over and over again. Houston repeatedly tested his feet and aerial skills and he was up to the task every time.
One thing I liked: Four tackles, three interceptions, five clearances, three blocked shots, five duels — the numbers defensively for Yeimar were excellent, and he continues to win every interaction with opponents.
One thing I didn’t like: A 6th minute whiff led to a counter attack, and a 15th minute clearance went awry in an otherwise clean match from Yeimar (89 percent passing).
Going forward: Yeimar continues to raise his level of play each match since his injury earlier this year, and he doesn’t appear to be slowing down any time soon.
Alex Roldan – 5 | Community – 5.9
Alex had a frustrating evening, involved in some great play early but then fading late, getting tired, and ultimately incurring some silly cards that eventually saw him sent off in the 82nd minute. Before leaving, he amassed 88 percent passing on 53 touches.
One thing I liked: In the first half, Roldan overlapped into the box for a nice cross in the 18th minute and then, 10 minutes later, was again a late runner into the box, this time dropping a perfect assisting cross to Raúl Ruidíaz.
One thing I didn’t like: With plenty of cover behind him in the 82nd minute, Alex got into a physical battle with Beto Avila. When their legs tangled, Alex was sent off for his troubles which negated Seattle’s man advantage.
Going forward: Alex is often a lynchpin for attacking down the right, but he’s looked a bit muted in the last few matches. Sitting out a game may ultimately help him and the team.
Kelyn Rowe 6 | Community – 5.9 (off 59’ for Atencio)
Rowe played some bend-but-don’t-break midfieldering, doing much of the necessary dirty work to free up the finesse players around him. He also demonstrated a number of near-critical mistakes centrally. His hustle and tenacity saw him earn 34 touches and 89 percent passing.
One thing I liked: Rowe made some smart plays in the middle, highlighted by a 6th minute aggressive step forward to win the ball and start a counter attack that ended with a shot. Kelyn personally had a shot and a key pass as well.
One thing I didn’t like: Due to his position on the field, mistakes are highlighted, and he had a bunch of them, such as a 16th minute bad pass, a 23rd minute give-and-go that left him dizzy, and a 52nd minute giveaway in the middle that likely hastened his exit from the match for fresher legs.
Going forward: Rowe showed he can pair with Albert Rusnák and be smart enough to fill in the gaps in the match, which may be enough to keep earning him time.
Albert Rusnák – 7 | Community – 7.2 (off 86’ for Dobbeleare)
Rusnák again showed incredible control and passing touch, continually defusing potential Houston opportunities with a calm trap and quick pass to feet. His 77 touches were second-most in the game, and he settled nicely into a patient deeper lying creative role.
One thing I liked: Bert was excellent in finding passes to relieve pressure, whether it was finding Jordan Morris over the top in the first 10 minutes (carving that thought into the mind of the Dynamo defenders), or a beautiful 18th minute wide pass, he was always head up and driving forward. He found Ruidíaz in the 84th minute due to his ability to sense where to relieve pressure (or attack weakness).
One thing I didn’t like: No one is likely to mistake Rusnák for an amazing defender, and his recovery defense in the 66th minute was more “olé” than anything else.
Going forward: Most of the good things that happened in this match began with smart play from Snack, and with his apparent endurance, he may figure massively this weekend.
Jordan Morris – 7 | Community – 6.7 (off 77’ for Medranda)
Morris was tremendous at going forward for much of his time on the field, continually pushing at goal and finding teammates or going direct himself. He was efficient in his 34 touches, finding three shots and 92 percent passing while winning a few aerials and five duels as well.
One thing I liked: Jordan created a number of big chances for himself on goal, but it was his patience when put into space by a nifty Lodeiro pass in the 28th that led to Seattle’s goal. Head up, he drove at the keeper to force a defensive decision, spotted the backside run from Alex Roldan, and dropped an excellent ball across goal.
One thing I didn’t like: His shot in the 20th minute was all wrong, bending away from goal, and his 63rd minute shot, with a chance to put the match away, was similarly disappointing.
Going forward: Jordan Morris continues to be a problem for opponents. He was clearly gassed at the end of his shift against Houston, and may be best as a luxury change of pace late for the Sounders’ weekend match.
Nico Lodeiro– 7 | Community – 7.0
Nico played his second game in a few days and again was the marshal of the match, gaining almost 20 more touches than any other player on the field (93). He converted this to a shot, a key pass, and enough hustle to ensure Houston played a man down (for a while, at least).
One thing I liked: There is perhaps no one better in the league at seeing (let alone converting) on the slip pass that Lodeiro hit to Morris in the 28th minute. This deft touch came off of a stern pass to Nico, yet he casually softened this somehow into a perfect ball through for Jordan, getting him in behind on a play that ultimately ended in the game-winning goal.
One thing I didn’t like: As everyone tired, Seattle still had a number of big chances to put it away, and an 80th minute cross on a breakaway went lacking.
Going forward: Nico is now back into the “multiple strong performances going 90 minutes just a few days apart” chapter of his recovery, and things are going swimmingly.
Cristian Roldan – 6 | Community – 7.2
Like in the last match, Cristian was quiet in the first half against the Dynamo. Unfortunately, he was also quiet in the second, with a lot of hard work and very little to show for it. He had 64 touches and 98 percent passing marks in a somewhat lethargic outing.
One thing I liked: Roldan didn’t miss any passes, and his crossing remains incredibly accurate as well. Two excellent services in the 10th and 61st minutes went lacking, but only because the finishing was poor.
One thing I didn’t like: More impact is needed from such a valuable player on this team. Cristian’s visible frustration seemed to cross over to his brother, with both suffering for it.
Going forward: Cristian cooled off this match, but his stamina is legendary which means he likely scores a hattrick this weekend.
Raúl Ruidíaz – 7 | Community – 7.4 (MOTM) (off 86’ for Bruin)
Ruidíaz again showed up when Seattle needed it the most, scoring the game-winner on one of his two shots. He did have 30 touches and displayed an excellent ability to drop in and support the midfield with his back to goal, rewarding the team with 89 percent passing.
One thing I liked: The little things Raúl does to score are often overlooked, but it’s telling that in the goalscoring sequence his movement ultimately got him to the spot with the ball to score. It wasn’t particularly fancy, he is just faster and better at getting to where the ball will be than anyone else in the game, making it look easy.
One thing I didn’t like: Raúl was forced to play with his back to the goal a lot, not seeing many shots or opportunities outside of the goal he scored. Sometimes this was a direct result of his own errors, such as a bad 64th minute touch in the box and a poor pass a minute later to Nico.
Going forward: Raúl has now scored in back-to-back games and looks as goal-dangerous as ever. Watch out, league.
Josh Atencio – 6 | Community – 6.0 (on 59’ for Rowe)
Atencio got his chance to play centrally and after a brief hiccup, looked very good. Touching the ball a lot (44 times), he was also a strong defensive presence, supporting the back as everyone around him tired.
One thing I liked: Not just content to steal the ball, Josh on multiple occasions turned this possession into an attack. His 61st and 80th minute aggressive dribbles forward after turning over Houston were excellent.
One thing I didn’t like: An early miscue gave possession back to Houston at an inopportune moment, and his 81 percent passing was low for playing up a man and trying to hold the ball for much of it.
Going forward: Atencio played well enough to throw his name in the hat for more defensive midfield minutes opposite Snack.
Jimmy Medranda – 5 | Community – 5.8 (on 77’ for Morris)
A JM for JM sub saw Jimmy replace Jordan and quietly help see out the match late from the left side.
One thing I liked: A 92nd minute forward ball and 93rd minute midfield ball won were essential late plays to ensure all three points.
One thing I didn’t like: Subbing in at the 77th minute fresh should have resulted in more than eight touches for a winger.
Going forward: Medranda continues to show he can add some late match energy and looks poised to be a key left-sided player as the team navigates fixture congestion.
Ethan Dobbelaere – 6 | Community – 5.8 (on 86’ for Rusnak)
Ethan got some time on the right, pushing Cristian back after the younger Roldan was sent off. Dobbelaere was a high-energy, pressing option that added defense through offensive effort.
One thing I liked: Double Dare was excellent in the 89th minute when pushing forward 1-v-4 and choosing to keep possession. He won a 93rd minute free kick in a very energetic outing.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 90th minute Seattle had a break with numbers up and a chance to ice the match, but Ethan looked lost, ultimately trying to cross to Will Bruin in a forgettable sequence.
Going forward: Dobbelaere has shown plenty of effort this year, and in this match, it fit the needs of the team well. In future moments he will need to show more than just hustle if he wants to contend for a bench spot.
Will Bruin – 6 | Community – 5.5 (on 86’ for Ruidiaz)
Bruin gave Raúl an early rest and ate some clock with hustle up front.
One thing I liked: I loved the holdup from Will in this one, getting the ball to a teammate in the 87th, earning a foul in the 89th, and showing excellent control in traffic in the 92nd, all incredibly valuable at helping see out a slim victory.
One thing I didn’t like: Charging forward with Dobbelaere was helpful on a number of occasions, but neither looked particularly dangerous doing so.
Going forward: Getting Will a few minutes against his old team was a nice gesture, and he showed that he has value in this role late in games.
Rubiel Vazquez – 7 | Community – 5.5
Vazquez got a lot right in this one, continually recognizing fouls and even carding early as necessary. I agreed in principle with all of his cards, although taken as a whole they didn’t always add up.
One thing I liked: The early yellow card for a professional foul and persistent infringement was right, as was the card that sent Houston to 10 men, albeit very soft. I found myself ultimately agreeing with nearly every call.
One thing I didn’t like: Was this referee trying to even out the match after sending off Adalberto Carrasquilla early in the second half? Houston apparently had 14 fouls and got two yellow cards; Seattle committed five fouls but got three yellow cards, which while technically correct, is confusing.
Going forward: Overall this was a strong refereeing performance and it’s just the circumstances of the cards that made it weird.
Houston Dynamo MOTM
Darwin Quintero acted as the fulcrum for the vast majority of Houston’s attacks. He consistently dropped away from Seattle’s centerbacks to facilitate buildup before slipping a teammate in (as evidenced by a whopping five key passes) or taking on the shot himself.
Next up: Playing a very strong Colorado team on the road is going to be a tough battle. Time to test this team depth we’ve been hearing about.