Seattle hosted the league-leading LAFCers last weekend, in a close, hard-fought match that ended in a 1-1 draw. Missing several key pieces on either side, both teams created multiple big chances, and the match was played with an appropriate intensity given their skill levels. Seattle was unable to force LAFC into many big saves, although they created some of the better chances, while the Sounders relied on stellar goalkeeping to limit the few quality attempts from the visitors.
Stefan Frei – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 8.5 (MOTM)
Frei was excellent, making multiple big saves on the evening and nearly earning what would have been a deserved shutout. Time and again LAFC created strong scoring chances and Frei did everything he could to keep Seattle in the match. He ended with six saves while conceding a single goal.
One thing I liked: In the 63rd minute Frei made back-to-back reflex saves from close quarters, first parrying a near-post shot and then somehow smothering the rebound shot from the center of the goal. His positioning and reflexes were on point to make both saves, but the most impressive part was controlling the second shot and denying any further action, a nearly impossible feat when dealing with a shot from mere feet away.
One thing I didn’t like: Seattle’s defense gave up a number of big chances, but it was a rather flukey header from eight yards out that finally beat Frei. He was caught in between and clearly didn’t expect a header, which was a shame since he was so excellent for the rest of the match.
Going forward: Frei was the biggest factor in how many points Seattle earned from this match, and continues to show no signs of slowing down from being a perennial GKOTY candidate.
Nouhou – 6 | Community – 6.2
Nouhou was a rock on the left side, repeatedly shutting down his wing and allowing Jordan Morris the space to roam forward on counter attacks. Nouhou also picked his spots well, surging into attack as needed and distributing cleanly (91 percent passing) while leading the game with six interceptions and 11 recoveries.
One thing I liked: In the first half, Nouhou dominated his wide spaces, repeatedly winning possession with strong defense before pushing forward to find teammates. In the second half, he shut down Carlos Vela and then turned distributor, with a 56th minute curling wide pass to put Morris in and a nice overlap and cross 10 minutes later.
One thing I didn’t like: After being moved to center back with the injury to Xavier Arreaga, the Nouhou/Ragen pairing was messy. Nouhou compounded this with an egregious 79th minute flop that failed to garner the hopeful foul call and instead gave LAFC a golden scoring opportunity, which they took and converted.
Going forward: Nouhou can play center back, but clearly needs a strong leader next to him to guide his positioning. He looked much more comfortable, and was more effective, on the width.
Xavier Arreaga – 7 | Community – 6.9 (off 74’ for Rowe)
Arreaga was very good for Seattle, repeatedly shutting down any central attacks and forcing everything for LAFC wide. His calm distribution allowed the Sounders needed possession and an ability to build from the back.
One thing I liked: Xavi showed strong defending in 1-v-1 situations and paired that with excellent passing to push tempo when available. In the 52nd minute he put a beautiful through ball to an advanced Albert Rusnák that cut out five LAFC players.
One thing I didn’t like: Traveling and fatigue are two major factors in muscle tissue issues, and Arreaga was one of a number of Sounders to catch hamstring-itis. After he left injured in the 73rd minute, Seattle’s defense was never the same.
Going forward: Seattle has center back depth that is going to be firmly tested with the injuries to Xavi and Yeimar.
Jackson Ragen - 7 | Community – 6.8
Ragen was solid in his starting role replacing the injured Yeimar, turning in a four tackle, three clearance, 79 percent passing clip. His calm defending and combination play with the players around him allowed him to leverage the quiet moments into some quality connection play forward up the field.
One thing I liked: It was a bit risky, but a 60th minute slide tackle in the corner of the box that cleared out Cristian Arango and the ball was perfect. He had to get the timing right on this and did exactly that.
One thing I didn’t like: Ragen is prone to some lapses in cohesion on the back line, and especially after Arreaga left, he struggled to maintain a firm connection to teammates. His propensity to drop off opponents leaves gaps in the Sounders back line defense, something LAFC capitalized on for their only goal.
Going forward: Ragen needs to trust his speed a little more and should get plenty of practice doing so with everyone around him ailing.
Alex Roldan – 6 | Community – 6.3
Roldan was again under the radar for much of this match, spending his time aptly defending his side and staying home for the most part in lieu of constant rampaging runs up the wing. He was effective when he got into the attacking third, however, with two key passes and a 91 percent pass completion rate.
One thing I liked: Alex had four tackles on the width, providing a defensive intensity that opened up wide channels for Rusnák to push forward into. When he got possession, Roldan quickly moved the ball forward.
One thing I didn’t like: LAFC had some luck going over the top of Alex, especially in the 42nd minute where he was badly beaten and could only watch as Frei made a great near-post save on his man.
Going forward: This was a match that needed more Alex Roldan in it, as he remains an underrated game changer.
Obed Vargas – 6 | Community – 6.2 (off 75’ for Medranda)
Obed returned to the starting lineup opposite Rusnák and was quietly effective. Only having 49 touches, Vargas was intelligent in what he did with the ball when he had it, and did an excellent job of shifting across the field to offset the movement of Lodeiro and Rusnák vertically.
One thing I liked: Obed is so good at turning in traffic and moving forward, not content to just sit on the ball or play square. His ability to attack is not only due to his dribbling skill, but also his tactical understanding on when to do so.
One thing I didn’t like: With Seattle pressing high for much of the match, Vargas has to have better awareness of his role when he’s the last central defensive piece. In the 41st minute he sprawled out in a failed last ditch tackle attempt in the attacking third with no defensive cover, allowing LAFC a break directly at the back line with 40 yards of possession.
Going forward: Vargas’ increasing ability to hold down defensive and deep possession duties is unlocking Rusnák even more, and it’s exciting.
Albert Rusnák – 8 | Community – 7.5
Other than a number of stellar Frei saves, this match was the Albert Rusnák show. He absolutely dominated LAFC, who had no solution to his movement, touch, distribution, and creativity. Rusnák was spectacular: a game high 93 touches, 83 percent completion rate, three shots, four tackles, two interceptions and the lone Seattle goal. Rusnák was everywhere.
One thing I liked: Numerous times, a nifty dribble or control in traffic gave Bert a yard of space, space that he would continuously utilize to push the Sounders’ attack forward. He read the game almost perfectly, and his counter-pressing was spectacular, ending with a deserved goal off a quick read of the play, a goal he created from effort but finished with calm skill.
One thing I didn’t like: Morris set up Rusnák with an excellent chance in the 39th minute and his first-time attempt from the far six ended up in the stands.
Going forward: Rusnák was the driving force for Seattle in a game where Nico Lodeiro played well. What a fantastic signing and future outlook.
Jordan Morris – 7 | Community – 6.4 (off 88’ for Chú)
Jordan returned from scoring for the national team, and while unable to score, was a consistent threat into LAFC territory and turned creator for Seattle. He had a massive five key passes, most from wide runs and intelligent passing to find the movement of teammates and repeatedly set up Sounders with quality chances.
One thing I liked: Every one in seven of his touches, Morris created a key pass for a teammate. Whether it was getting in behind in the 15th minute and crossing back to a wide open Lodeiro, setting up Rusnák in the 39th, or laying a ball off in the 57th for Montero with a smart head control, Jordan was the driving force behind Seattle’s attacking success.
One thing I didn’t like: Although he set up teammates often, there were a number of times he could have been more selfish and tried to go direct himself instead of forcing to others.
Going forward: Jordan looks like the game changer we all know him to be.
Nicolás Lodeiro – 6 | Community – 7.1
With Rusnák going nuclear in the midfield and dominating possession, Lodeiro turned in a supplementary outing. His stats were muted from what we have come to expect, with Nico “only” having 79 touches and earning multiple shots with a key pass and his usual defensive cover centrally.
One thing I liked: In the 29th minute Lodeiro put in a gorgeous back post cross that just missed a Cristian Roldan run. This curving ball cut out five defenders and was absolutely magical, showing Nico to be near his full abilities.
One thing I didn’t like: Morris gave Nico a wide-open look in the 15th minute on a beautiful pull back drop and Lodeiro scuffed the shot wide, a chance that would have greatly changed the match.
Going forward: Last match showed his ability to create from deep; this match illustrated how Lodeiro can fit seamlessly into any tactical setup the team needs, and he appears to be almost fully recovered from any off-season issues.
Cristian Roldan – 6 | Community – 6.5
The right side of the Sounders attack was unusually quiet against LAFC, with the brothers Roldan failing to exert their usual influence. Cristian was fine, with a stellar 88 percent completion rate and three shots, but he didn’t have as much impact as we’ve come to expect.
One thing I liked: In the 15th minute it was a heady play from Roldan who drifted central defensively, found a loose ball in transition, and threaded a beautiful through ball onto the onrushing Morris that should have led to an early Seattle goal.
One thing I didn’t like: Cristian looked slightly off, and was unable to execute in big moments. He was inches away from getting on the end of a beautiful Lodeiro cross that cut out all three defenders in the 29th minute, and other similar plays saw him just not be able to find that bit of magic necessary to turn half chances into goals.
Going forward: Roldan isn’t a player we need to worry about producing, although his scorching hot start may have raised the bar a little too high.
Fredy Montero – 6 | Community – 5.5 (off 67’ for Bruin)
Fredy started up top and did an okay job of dropping centrally and finding teammates, opening Morris up the width and running smart angles at the backline. He wasn’t effective at being individually goal dangerous, often stuck deep supporting buildup and unable to get into the box during counter attacks.
One thing I liked: Montero’s holdup is hugely underrated, with Fredy able to control with all parts of his body. This was often on display in the first half as he would control centrally and link up with vertical runs from Rusnák through the middle.
One thing I didn’t like: One shot on 22 touches told the story of a striker who played deeper than you would have liked, and that one shot was kicked into the Hawk’s Nest after a tricky layoff header from Morris in the 57th.
Going forward: This performance wouldn’t make anyone forget about Raúl Ruidíaz, but the movement Fredy brings up top is hugely important in its own right.
Will Bruin – 5 | Community – 5.0 (on 67’ for Montero)
Will arrived for Montero to show a different look and made the most of his 10 touches, finding multiple key passes.
One thing I liked: Two minutes after subbing in, Bruin nearly got through onto a Lodeiro pass, with only the LAFC keeper straying way to the edge of his box stopping him.
One thing I didn’t like: Will keeps trying to get everyone to send him through, and he doesn’t have the speed to do so.
Going forward: Bruin added a nice spark up front and has settled into a holdup forward sub role well.
Kelyn Rowe – 5 | Community – 5.8 (on 74’ for Arreaga)
Rowe again played left outside back and didn’t have a lot of impact in the match, touching the ball 22 times.
One thing I liked: An excellent switching ball all the way across the field to Jimmy Medranda in the 93rd minute opened up the match and gave Seattle a late chance.
One thing I didn’t like: With only 60 percent completion rate, Rowe was too sloppy with the ball, especially a terrible pass in the 77th minute to the middle of the field and directly to an opponent.
Going forward: Rowe can (and apparently will) play all over the field.
Jimmy Medranda – 5 | Community – 5.5 (on 75’ for Vargas)
Jimmy wasn’t fully prepared to enter the match but was rushed on with the injury to Arreaga. He was active, earning two shots on only 15 touches.
One thing I liked: Playing right wing again, Seattle pushed Cristian into the middle and gave Jimmy room to work, and he responded with a number of dangerous attacks late.
One thing I didn’t like: His 63 percent completion rate was mainly due to attempting dangerous, attacking passes, but there were a number of poor decisions created by his impatience.
Going forward: Medranda is finally looking fit and it remains to be seen what role he will fill going forward.
Léo Chú – 5 | Community – 5.3 (on 88’ for Morris)
Chú came in to play a few minutes and was never really part of the game.
One thing I liked: He completed all of his (one) passes.
One thing I didn’t like: Only three touches for a player who has shown the ability to give you something different. It may have warranted an earlier inclusion to the match.
Going forward: Chú has shown that while he’s a little one-dimensional, he can offer a different skill set and clear change of pace when needed.
Allen Chapman – 3 | Community – 3.0
For the first half, Chapman seemed to have control of the match and did a fine job refereeing. The second half was a disaster and an embarrassment to the profession. The first thing a referee should be concerned with is player safety, and this referee directly led to dangerous play that could have seriously hurt players from either team.
One thing I liked: Chapman did call a single yellow on LAFC, for an obstruction on a free kick in the 16th minute.
One thing I didn’t like: LAFC had 16 fouls called against and a single yellow card. Worse was how their players felt emboldened to take advantage when not carded for foul after foul. The most egregious error was in the 81st minute when Cristian Roldan was given a yellow for being fouled while passing the ball. Roldan was sandwiched by multiple players, passed the ball and followed through, while being hacked to the ground. The beneficiary was Arango, who flopped around to sell the foul then jumped up and returned to the match. This call and others encouraged dangerous and unnecessary physical play that benefitted no one. Even Vela was confused when he didn’t get a yellow in the 95th minute on a deliberate “professional” foul holding Rowe, a foul which was somehow less severe than Cristian Roldan passing the ball. What a disgrace.
Going forward: I doubt either team was happy with the refereeing, which tells you all you need to know.
Criss Arango seemed to love all of ... whatever that was. Chapman helped the Colombian feel right at home, and he set about jawing, flopping, hacking, and ultimately heading his FCers into a point on the road.
Next up: A dismal professional wrestling team comes to town next week. Those games are almost never fun, but beating them by at least five would be.