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Seattle Sounders vs. Vancouver Whitecaps: Player ratings

Please don’t be seriously injured, please don’t be seriously injured, please don’t be seriously injured.

Seattle put together a comprehensive outing with an altered lineup for their midweek Cascadia match. Facing an in-form Vancouver Whitecap squad, the hometown Sounders scored early, setting the tone for a match that they dominated throughout and won 4-0. While the offense was scoring consistently, the defense was particularly stout, not allowing a shot on goal all match and earning a rare, yet well deserved, clean sheet. This was a match between teams of two different talent levels, and Seattle won nearly every skill check.


Goalkeeper

Stefan Frei – 7 | Community – 7.0

Frei didn’t have to do much, and in fact wasn’t credited with a single save, but was part of a well-organized and efficient defense that earned a clean sheet.

One thing I liked: Even though the play was eventually whistled offside, Frei made an excellent save in the 17th minute with the game still in doubt. His strong parry near post made sure that any momentum Vancouver wished to create was squashed.

One thing I didn’t like: If there was a weakness for a defense that held the opponents from any shots on goal, it was set piece defending. A 37th minute corner kick was particularly messy, and it was Vancouver’s ineptitude and not Seattle’s skill that prevented a quality chance.

Going forward: Set piece defense as a whole has been shaky this season, but fortunately, that’s something that can be drilled on the training ground.

Defense

Kelyn Rowe – 7 | Community – 6.9

Rowe was excellent, especially in the first half where he showed creative passing and movement and a great awareness of spacing to unlock both himself and teammates into dangerous areas. His 85 touches were actually second-highest in the match, and he completed 81 percent of his passes.

One thing I liked: An intelligent burst into open space on the left put Rowe on the ball in the 28th minute and his perfect left-footed curling ball cut out multiple defenders and found a wide open Jimmy Medranda at the top of the 18. This vision and service was the deserved end to a play that started with excellent decision making and attacking instincts.

One thing I didn’t like: Kelyn faded a bit later in the match, and his passing completion rate suffered as he had a number of sloppy passes that fortunately didn’t present more of an issue.

Going forward: Rowe looked surprisingly great on the left, and he remains a quality back up at any number of positions on the field.

Xavier Arreaga –7 | Community – 7.2

Arreaga put in a quietly solid shift in the back, surrounded by new players in every direction except behind, and he was excellent. Seventy touches, 94 percent passing, and seven recoveries filled up his stat sheet.

One thing I liked: Arreaga looked comfortable and filled the gaps around him well, sliding from side to side and stepping up into any holes in the defensive shape that arose from the formation and movement of the team when they got stretched. His calming presence in the back often helped to regain possession and provided direction for the defense.

One thing I didn’t like: Although he wasn’t busy, somehow Arreaga wasn’t credited with a single defensive action, which was due to a lot of cautious positioning that left a few opportunities for more aggressive defensive actions wanting.

Going forward: Xavi’s ability to combine with any number of revolving parts around him is an amazing asset to a deep team; he can help leverage that depth into more consistent defensive showings.

Jackson Ragen - 7 | Community – 6.9

Ragen was calmly consistent in his return to the starting lineup, showcasing his aggressive and physical style with smooth passing and distribution from the right center back position. He had 80 touches and completed 89 percent of his attempts, continually finding teammates in space and good positions to alleviate pressure.

One thing I liked: While Ragen was taking some of the passing load from Alex Roldan and Xavi, he didn’t shirk his defensive duties. Jackson had a massive nine clearances and knows when to dribble, pass, and kick the crap out of the ball.

One thing I didn’t like: He had a few mistakes on defense, like misjudging a 9th minute offside trap and giving a flailing team a lifeline via a 31st minute foul and subsequent dangerous free kick attempt.

Going forward: Ragen is back, and while he is a slight drop-off from the first-choice center backs, the gap is closing quickly.

Alex Roldan – 7 | Community – 7.4

Roldan didn’t appear to be very impactful in the match until he was. Without his brother in front of him to demonstrate their incredible on-field chemistry, Alex was mostly content to defend and allow space for Nico to work in front of him. Roldan still had 68 touches, completed 86 percent of his passes, and took his opportunities well.

One thing I liked: Alex’s match focused on quality over quantity, with a 54th minute overlap and cross a precursor to a similar play in the 89th minute that ended with Alex smashing a near-post shot into the net to close the scoring. Roldan took exactly what was given to him all match, and he fit the needs of his team perfectly.

One thing I didn’t like: A number of bad touches popped up in this match, and there were moments when Alex had time to create a better opportunity than the one he chose.

Going forward: Against better competition, Roldan will need to be much more involved, as he has game-changing ability from the right back.

Defensive Midfield

Obed Vargas – 6 | Community – 6.8

Obed got to try a match paired with Nico Lodeiro and did well to compensate for the meandering of his partner. Vargas wasn’t a dominant physical force defensively, but did run the angles well, depending on instincts and positioning to limit the Whitecaps through the middle. He was very clean with possession, finding 91 percent success and consistently linking to teammates in good areas.

One thing I liked: Obed looked to dribble centrally and find teammates early, and his dribbling and control won him multiple fouls born from a necessity to stop these dangerous attacks.

One thing I didn’t like: Vargas tired late and it showed a little as his control dropped, with him caught dribbling into multiple players and dispossessed in the 70th.

Going forward: Obed’s ability to control in traffic paired with his desire to push forward on the dribble is revolutionary, often creating necessary space and urgency centrally for a team that desperately needs it.

Nico Lodeiro – 8 | Community – 8.1 (off 88’ for Cissoko)

This was a masterclass of cerebral soccer from Lodeiro, who did just about everything. He led the match in touches (102), had a massive five key passes, scored a penalty goal, hit the crossbar on another dangerous shot, and had 10 defensive recoveries.

One thing I liked: Nico proved he can not only play defensive midfield, but excel at that position. He pulled the strings and effectively dropped a line in a more attacking tactical setup, constantly finding teammates and befuddling Vancouver with his movement.

One thing I didn’t like: Against a better team, the lack of physical defensive actions (tackles, interceptions, etc.) from a defensive midfield pairing could be a weak point.

Going forward: Any questions as to whether Nico could play another five years dropped a line and still be incredibly effective were answered against Vancouver.

Attacking Midfield

Léo Chú – 7 | Community – 6.7 (off 88’ for Dobbelaere)

Chú had one of his most complete performances as a Sounder, going nearly 90 minutes on the left side and being a relevant two-way player for the majority of it. His connection with teammates and communication in both offensive and defensive roles looked much improved, and he combined well throughout.

One thing I liked: Chú put an absolutely perfect cross into the box in the 54th minute and handed Raúl Ruidíaz a layup. This ball curved behind the back line, away from a frozen keeper, and right into the run of Ruidíaz. It was a magnificent service that gave Seattle an important third goal and put the match away early in the second half.

One thing I didn’t like: There was at least one moment when Chú lined up a very predictable shot when there were clear better options.

Going forward: Chú is young, growing, and creating chances every time he plays, which is right on par with expectations for him.

Fredy Montero – 7 | Community – 7.1 (off 72’ for Leyva)

Montero started at central attacking mid and was fantastic early, creating goals, connecting with teammates, and being a consistent fulcrum for the attack that nearly perfectly offset the deeper Lodeiro. Fredy had two shots, a key pass, and a penalty earned.

One thing I liked: With Seattle transitioning at breakneck speed, Fredy popped up square to Raúl and got a strong shot on goal in the 5th minute. He followed up a save by the Vancouver keeper with a subtle feint at goal, dragged a leg and found contact. This smart control under duress earned Seattle a PK and a 5th minute lead. Later, a first touch through ball in the 62nd should have earned him an assist to Raúl.

One thing I didn’t like: There were a number of times where Fredy crowded Raúl or Nico, dropping back to be a holdup player or pushing high into open space, and there were some spacing issues as he tired later in the match.

Going forward: What an amazing signing Montero has been, giving incredible output and showing an ability to facilitate and fit in seamlessly with teammates.

Jimmy Medranda – 6 | Community – 6.6 (off 72’ for Teves)

Medranda starting at right midfield was a surprise, but his play supported this choice well. he was excellent in possession and creating space for Alex to overlap, as well as combining centrally and bringing Nico into the attack as needed. He earned two shots, had a key pass and 80 percent passing offensively, while leading Seattle with four interceptions defensively.

One thing I liked: In the 28th minute his expert long trap pass to Raúl Ruidíaz assisted on Seattle goal number two.

One thing I didn’t like: At least once, there was a corner kick that came to Jimmy’s left foot in space, begging for the world-beater volley we expect from him, but alas, it wasn’t to be.

Going forward: A fit Medranda who can find some of the form he displayed at the end of 2020 is a massive tool for Seattle going forward this season.

Forward

Raúl Ruidíaz – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 8.6 (MOTM) (off 64’ for Bruin)

Ruidíaz was massive, creating and scoring almost at will, riding his patented white-hot form to the tune of two goals and numerous other massive chances. His 32 touches were almost always goal-dangerous and the Sounders looked able to score nearly every time he touched the ball.

One thing I liked: Ruidíaz put on a burst of speed and effort through the midfield to create the first goal in the 5th minute, earning the ball, driving into the box, and laying off to Montero. He scored the second after first-timing a gentle layoff from Medranda.

One thing I didn’t like: Montero and Chú created a turnover high up the field in the 62nd minute and Fredy put Raúl in 1-v-1 with the keeper. Ruidíaz got around him easily, but then rushed a shot that a recovering defender was able to parry away. RIP increased goal differential.

Going forward: Raúl limping off and likely missing a few games is a blow to a team that was starting to click, and a to player who has been unstoppable. Hurry back, Raúl.

Substitutes

Will Bruin – 5 | Community – 5.8 (on 64’ for Ruidíaz)

Will came in earlier than expected due to the Ruidíaz injury and played well. Finding his spots to hold up the ball, he combined with teammates and had 20 touches.

One thing I liked: A 71st minute holdup play was textbook, and an 89th minute chest pass showed an adaptability I appreciated.

One thing I didn’t like: Will needlessly gave away possession in the 83rd minute from a bad pass, and his back to the goal style was a big difference from how Raúl played up there.

Going forward: Bruin is a trusted veteran who can do a fine job of controlling the ball up top, but hasn’t shown a consistent goal-dangerous side to his play this year.

Dylan Teves – 4 | Community – 5.5 (on 72’ for Medranda)

Dylan Teves got his first minutes for the Seattle Sounders and had a quiet outing, with only six touches, as he looked for ways to inject himself into the match with little success.

One thing I liked: Teves had a nice tackle defensively and showed a willingness to defend and play both ways that is needed on the wings for Seattle.

One thing I didn’t like: In the 79th minute Teves cautiously passed the ball back, eschewing a more aggressive and dangerous attacking opportunity.

Going forward: Once Dylan gets more comfortable, he will likely play with less fear, and at that point we will get a better idea of what he can bring.

Danny Leyva – 5 | Community – 6.0 (on 72’ for Montero)

Leyva got a solid 20-minute run out and responded, showing well during his limited time. His 16 minutes were impactful, with 93 percent passing and an assist.

One thing I liked: His pass to Alex Roldan in the 89th minute earned Leyva an assist, but it was the vision to see the run and understand the play that created the opportunity.

One thing I didn’t like: Danny had a foul committed on a play where he was reaching a bit, and he still looks to need some work on the defensive side of the ball.

Going forward: Only 19, the ceiling is very high for Leyva who needs to continue to build on this quality appearance.

Ethan Dobbelaere – 5 | Community – 5.5 (on 88’ for Chú)

Ethan Dobbeleare played, giving Chú an early exit and some applause.

One thing I liked: Four of four passing means 100 percent completion rate by my math.

One thing I didn’t like: If you had told me Ethan didn’t play in this match, I wouldn’t have argued.

Going forward: Dobbelaere got a few garbage time minutes and likely did nothing to change anyone’s current opinion of him.

Abdoulaye Cissoko – 5 | Community – 5.5 (on 88’ for Lodeiro)

AB Cissoko played a few minutes at the end to give Nico a sendoff.

One thing I liked: Six of six passing means 100 percent completion rate by my math.

One thing I didn’t like: Like Ethan, I didn’t notice much from AB.

Going forward: Cissoko got a few garbage time minutes and likely did nothing to change anyone’s current opinion of him.

Referee

Lukasz Szpala – 7 | Community – 6.3

The entirety of this match had 14 fouls called with Seattle committing only five total fouls in the game. Vancouver earned the only two yellow cards in a match that was over early and fairly congenial.

One thing I liked: There was zero hesitation to call an early PK, and this referee often valiantly attempted to play advantage.

One thing I didn’t like: It looked like the match could get rough with the referee allowing a lot of early contact, and this was compounded by plays such as a 40th minute call that was extremely late.

Going forward: The idea to play advantage was excellent, but blowing the whistle on calls a few seconds earlier would vastly improve the game state.

Vancouver Whitecaps MOTM

I don’t know what to make of these results. The Whitecaps were all equally bad, more or less, which sounds about right when you get thrashed 4-0. As such, this Man of the Match award goes to ... Fredy Montero and Andy Rose!


Next up: Seattle has won four of five with a chance at a statement win against league-leading LAFC on Saturday.