Seattle prepared for a wrestling match with Sporting Kansas City in the ring at Lumen field, but only one side showed up. It was the good guys, as the Sounders dominated throughout and won 3-0. The score could have been more lopsided, as SKC brought substantially less fight to Seattle than their last trip. We don’t yet know whether the opponents have hit rock bottom, but that lack of effort was appalling. Even the endless complaints from their annoying coach failed to inspire them to do more than show up, whine, and pick the ball out of their ineffective keeper’s net. We kept waiting for SKC to do something, because in the past they’ve been able turn into Road Warriors to make plays, but alas, still waiting.
Stefan Frei – 7 | Community – 7.3
Frei got another shutout in this one, facing an anemic offense from SKC who found nine shots and seven corners but were stuffed by a stout defense and good keeper positioning.
One thing I liked: SKC managed only one shot on goal and Frei saved it, a header that he easily corralled. This was a relatively boring match for Stefan but he did well to manage the players in front of him while he enjoyed the sunshine.
One thing I didn’t like: A number of clearances from Stef were less than impressive, and it was an adventure at times to see where he would put the ball. He was clearly feeling generous to his rude opponents.
Going forward: Frei has had a number of games where he deserved a shutout but didn’t end up with one, so it’s nice to see him earn the only stat national pundits seem to understand.
Nouhou – 8 | Community – 7.2
Nouhou was excellent as a two-way player and was nearly Mister Perfect in this match. Five clearances, two interceptions, a tackle won defensively, and 32/33 (97 percent) passing, including two key passes on offense. Nouhou was the truth.
One thing I liked: Long criticized for his erratic service, Nouhou has been improving steadily throughout his career, and he delivered a tremendous ball in the 71st minute. Pushing up high to support the attack, the opponents dropped off, allowing Nouhou to dial up a perfect back-post ball that landed at a conveniently placed Jordan Morris forehead, which redirected into the net behind Tim Melia.
One thing I didn’t like: The few SKC opportunities in this match came down the opposite side, but Nouhou had some communication issues with both Jackson Ragen next to him and Morris in front of him, leading to some more deliberate play instead of direct attacking that was available.
Going forward: Nouhou is the guy on the team most likely to have a Mr. Socko, and that’s a good thing.
Jackson Ragen – 7 | Community – 7.2
Ragen switched to the left and put in another solid defensive performance, undertaking to clear every possible ball, and ending with a massive six clearances. Jackson was his usual calm self, touching the ball a stellar 67 times and finding teammates at a 91 percent clip. Never intimidated, he gave a few forearm shivers of his own, mixing it up with numerous Sporks trying to body him.
One thing I liked: Ragen was great in combination with Yeimar, but it was when he drifted to the left that Jackson was able to switch the field beautifully, such as his incredible long ball to an advanced Roldan pairing in the 8th minute to jumpstart the offense and create space for Seattle’s first goal.
One thing I didn’t like: Jackson is still prone to overcommitting and needs to be more aware of his speed, as he can be beat due to the aggressive angles he takes. This can force him to dive in against better competition than SKC.
Going forward: Ragen is clearly a starting level player in MLS, yet remains third on the depth chart due to the incredible skill of those in front of him.
Yeimar – 7 | Community – 7.1 (off 80’ for Cissoko)
Finally, Yeimar has returned to Lumen Field and it was perfect timing as the defense needed his strong presence. He brought the excellent defensive work we’ve come to expect and absolutely dominated SKC physically. His presence and anticipation cut out nearly every opponent attack, limiting the middle and forcing everything wide.
One thing I liked: Yeimar was a huge reason that Daniel Salloi was limited to a single shot and 65 percent passing. Every time Salloi tried to cut in from the SKC left and line up his shot, he found a One Man Gang blocking out the sun and suffocating him to the point that he fumbled the ball to the Seattle defense.
One thing I didn’t like: The usual errant Yeimar pass happened and it’s just going to be like that; that’s The Bottom Line.
Going forward: It’s great to have Yeimar back and dominating, and life is as it should be.
Alex Roldan – 7 | Community – 7.0
Roldan didn’t immediately stand out against the Sporks but perhaps surprisingly led the team with 81 touches and completed 83 percent of his passes. He was a calming presence and consistent outlet player who controlled the match, took the Sting out of any SKC attack, and was excellent at finding the right play for the situation without forcing anything.
One thing I liked: Seattle spent so much time controlling the match, there weren’t many opportunities to overlap against an advanced SKC defense, but his connection with his brother Cristian led to a smooth transition from defense with Ragen through Alex and into the back of the SKC net moments later in the 8th minute, setting the tone.
One thing I didn’t like: There were times when Roldan could have snuck into the attack on overlapping plays, but he was more reluctant in the hot sun to get overextended. That might have been the smart play, but it impacted the plan of scoring ten goals against the opponents.
Going forward: This was a match that needed more Alex Roldan in it, as he remains an underrated game changer.
Kelyn Rowe – 6 | Community – 6.3 (off 79’ for Medranda)
Rowe again found himself in the starting lineup, this time centrally for the injured Obed Vargas. He acquitted himself well, doing some of everything centrally and finding teammates and tackles alike. Rowe’s ability to track runners through the middle greatly assisted the fullbacks who were able to remain generally linear in their channels.
One thing I liked: Kelyn brought the junkyard dog to the midfield, muddling up any opponent runs with a combination of subtle holds and interceptions, but he was also able to transition forward, often finding Albert Rusnák and pairing well centrally in possession.
One thing I didn’t like: Although he was game and brought effort, Rowe had some rough passes and got tired, limiting his effectiveness later in the match. He still tries to do too much at times, which can get him in trouble.
Going forward: Rowe’s versatility remains a great asset to the team.
Albert Rusnák – 7 | Community – 7.5 (off 84’ for Leyva)
Rusnák was again strong in the midfield, doing a bit of everything for the team. He had 51 touches, 86 percent passing, a key pass, two interceptions, and six recoveries. While not the Ultimate Warrior that he was against LAFC, Rusnák still empowered everyone around him to success.
One thing I liked: Having Snacks in front of the backline is an incredible tactical asset due to his positioning, work rate, and passing, but he is gaining more and more confidence in dribbling which adds yet another tool to the midfield. Many times, Albert beat multiple players and surged forward into the attack, breaking defensive lines and setting Seattle’s offense on a break. It’s a joy to watch some of his fancy moves, which often made SKC look downright silly.
One thing I didn’t like: The cohesion with Rowe was a work in progress, and for as much as Rusnák made vertical runs against SKC, Seattle didn’t utilize them, at times creating a gap in behind.
Going forward: Rusnák continues to evolve what Seattle can expect from central distribution, and it has balanced an attack that can score from all angles.
Jordan Morris – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 7.8
Whatcha gonna do when Morris runs all over you? Morris had a monster match, exploding up the field to create or finish as needed, a driving vertical force that SKC had no answer for. He ended with three shots (all on target), three key passes, 79 percent completion rate, and even five defensive recoveries on a busy afternoon that saw him score one and assist another.
One thing I liked: SKC couldn’t handle Jordan’s pace up the wing or smart movement, and it was the latter that saw him put the ball into the net. Creating space for Nouhou wide, Morris drifted off the back shoulder of a central defender and finished near perfectly on an excellent cross. Jordan has often gotten into this place but been unable to make the exact finish that he did so well this time. It’s great to see him growing into his skillset.
One thing I didn’t like: Jordan probably could have had more, missing a 1-v-1 with Melia later in the match, and was also unable to finish a mad scrambling play late that would have been nice to pad the lead.
Going forward: Jordan looks like the game changer we all know him to be.
Nicolás Lodeiro – 7 | Community – 7.0 (off 80’ for Montero)
Lodeiro has slightly changed his role on the team and it’s been beneficial to the overall success. He still covers the entire field with his movement, but hasn’t been asked to shoulder all of the possession, as evidenced by Nico only having a fourth-most touches at 64. He replaced some of this on-the-ball excellence with off-ball movement that was a dizzying array of tactical feints and runs which created gaps for the rest of the team to take advantage.
One thing I liked: Nico’s movement and ability to cover nearly everywhere has made him very important defensively, as he utilizes his superhuman endurance to drop into deep areas when needed to support, yet still manages to overload the offensive third and distribute cleanly. He communicates well in coverage for the vertical runs from central defensive midfield.
One thing I didn’t like: Lodeiro wasn’t credited with a key pass, and while Seattle didn’t need him to create goals, it’s odd seeing a million-dollar man of his caliber unable to impact directly as we know he can.
Going forward: The tactical flexibility of Seattle’s midfield is incredibly exciting and allows for more interchanging of players and less predictability to opponents. Look for Nico to pop up all over the field in dangerous and impactful spots.
Cristian Roldan – 8 | Community – 8.0 (MOTM)
Cristian started the match off strong and continued to be an active menace up the right wing, combining with teammates and finding incisive passes. He had the second-most touches on the team with 75 and translated that directly into two shots on goal, three key passes, and both a goal and an assist.
One thing I liked: Against a lousy team like SKC, it was important to get an early lead and piledrive any visitor hopes of an upset. Roldan did that, coming up camel clutch early, dropping a perfect cross over the defense in the 8th minute to a hungry bear to open the scoring.
One thing I didn’t like: While Roldan got a late tap-in insurance goal due to hustle, there were a number of other times when Seattle was missing an extra man in the box on runs, and Cristian was caught inside supporting midfield as his mark pushed high.
Going forward: Roldan continues to show how effective he can be out wide, offering great service and work rate on the wing, but he can also shift to central defensive mid when needed.
Will Bruin – 7 | Community – 7.3 (off 74’ for Chú)
Will Bruin got the start as forward for the first time in a while and made an immediate impact, scoring early off a great run and finish. He continued to make positive plays before tiring and subbing off in the 74th minute. A majority of his 34 touches were combination plays to connect with teammates and draw Seattle into the attack, but he looked best when facing forward and attacking goal.
One thing I liked: The communication between Will and Cristian was excellent early in the match, with Bruin smelling what Roldan was cooking by feinting near post then drifting off the back shoulder to get on the end of a beautiful cross. Will had a lot to do on the finish, and he converted an excellent back post header that was tougher than it looked.
One thing I didn’t like: With a dismal 64 percent passing clip, Will was better at having great ideas than in converting them to positive plays for some of the match.
Going forward: Translating his possession with connecting to teammates will be a big step to more playing time, but Bruin reminded us that he’s a strong bench player who can produce when given the right opportunity.
Léo Chú – 6 | Community – 6.5 (on 74’ for Bruin)
Chú came in with 15 minutes remaining to spell Bruin and push Morris up top. He worked hard up the left side and had a 100 percent completion rate on his passes, but only touched the ball seven times. He maximized his impact, offering a hockey assist moments after stepping onto the field.
One thing I liked: Chú was immediately impactful, getting forward and finding a beautiful slip pass to put Morris in alone in the 76th minute for an easy alley-oop to Roldan and a game-sealing third goal.
One thing I didn’t like: Even though the Sporks were too busy checking their phones for flight times back to the Midwest, Chú failed to impact the match much after the first flurry. It wasn’t necessary, but he could have been on the ball a smidge more.
Going forward: Chú continues to develop, and the precision of his play when it mattered in this one is another building block for a young player with high upside.
Jimmy Medranda – 5 | Community – 6.0 (on 79’ for Rowe)
As SKC wasn’t threatening, Coach Schmetzer put on his subs with plenty of time left in the game. Medranda came in for a slightly injured Rowe, pushing Cristian Roldan back to the middle, with Jimmy taking up space in his new right winger spot.
One thing I liked: Fourteen touches, 100 percent completion rate and two shots in limited time was a clean outing from this sub appearance.
One thing I didn’t like: Jimmy had a late chance on goal and was unable to get the ball into the net, severely limiting our chances of beating KC by 12 goals.
Going forward: Medranda is finally looking fit and has found nice success as an inverted winger, allowing tactical flexibility with the elder Roldan dropping back later in matches.
Fredy Montero – 5 | Community – 5.9 (on 80’ for Lodeiro)
Montero arrived into a match that was already done and dusted and similarly to others, he played keep away from the opponents while being in the middle of numerous attacks.
One thing I liked: Sixteen touches, 100 percent passing, a won header, three shots: Montero was all over the ball.
One thing I didn’t like: With multiple great chances amid a late scramble, Fredy was unable to score from two yards out on numerous attempts, playing better defense than SKC did for much of the match.
Going forward: Montero has been a great facilitator, but he was a perfect choice to rest and sub into this match, bringing energy and control to a finished game.
Abdoulaye Cissoko – 5 | Community – 5.7 (on 80’ for Yeimar)
Cissoko arrived to finish off the last 10 minutes of the match and give Yeimar a bit of extra recovery from his injury.
One thing I liked: Twenty touches, 93 percent passing and two clearances highlighted a steady outing.
One thing I didn’t like: A miscommunication centrally led to a nervy moment in the 87th minute, but a strong clearance removed any doubt.
Going forward: Cissoko is down the depth chart but is a fine addition to the gameday roster and fully able to provide exactly what he did here.
Danny Leyva – 5 | Community – 5.7 (on 84’ for Rusnák)
Leyva entered in the center of the park and moved the ball well, connecting with teammates and holding strong to the shutout. Leyva knew his role and did it well.
One thing I liked: A won tackle and 88 percent passing saw the game out cleanly.
One thing I didn’t like: Leyva had a conservative pass late instead of forcing the ball through to a potentially open Chú, which hurt Seattle’s chances of winning by 15 goals.
Going forward: Schmetzer showed a lot of confidence in using all of his subs with 10 minutes left in the match, and he was rewarded by Leyva’s solid, if unspectacular outing.
Alex Chilowicz – 6 | Community – 5.5
This match was quite tame by Seattle versus SKC standards: only 19 combined fouls called and a single yellow without a single suplex or clothesline. The referee did a good job adjudicating any serious dustups and played the match very straight, which was honestly a relief after whatever that last guy did.
One thing I liked: There were multiple shouts for handballs on either team and a few controversial calls, but this ref quickly listened to his VAR and moved on, relying on his assistants to do their job well, which they did for the most part.
One thing I didn’t like: There were at least a few rough tackles that could have been whistled earlier, and the single yellow on Morris was a little suspect in light of other contact that had been allowed for much of the match.
Going forward: Getting a gauge on what is average or not for referees is difficult, but this performance seemed pretty solid.
Sporting Kansas City MOTM
I was curious to see how this one would shake out, given the very justified animosity towards Tim Melia, a human who could easily still be in jail under Washington State law. But the keeper minded his manners in this one, and for that he deserves the tiniest amount of credit. It always feels odd to hand this award to a goalkeeper who let in three, but let’s face it, it could have been a lot worse, and his stops kept SKC in this one longer than they probably deserved to be.
Next up: Midweek match! Bring your dog! Beat some more Canadians! Wooooooo!