Portland came to Seattle and, as they have done for what seems like a thousand years, conceded possession, defended just well enough, nicked a counterattack goal, and then frustrated a zillion Sounders fans for the rest of the match. The Sounders’ undisciplined defensive posture joined an offense that had poor finishing and some tough luck. The final was 3-0, but not in favor of the team that had 57 percent possession, 16 shots, 87 percent passing accuracy, and and 8-0 corner kick advantage.
If you are like me, this was a sunny weekend in Seattle that featured a nice Reign match and some Defiance dominance. The less I dwell on the Sounders versus Timbers game, the better.
Stefan Frei – 5 | Community – 6.0
Out of their 11 shots, Portland put eight on goal, meaning Frei ended with five saves. He had a clean 87 percent distributing the ball, finding teammates easily, as Portland was satisfied to drop off and uninterested in pressing.
One thing I liked: With Seattle down a man but still in the match due to their possession and chance creation, Frei made a huge 48th minute save against Sebastián Blanco who was in free.
One thing I didn’t like: Three goals against Portland at home is three too many. He didn’t get across on the first, isn’t particularly great at PKs, and was completely hung out to dry on the third.
Going forward: Frei didn’t have much say in how this game ended.
Nouhou – 5 | Community – 5.9
Nouhou did a lot of underlying things very well against Portland, but also was poor in big moments, contributing to multiple goals and struggling to positively impact the match with this tactical setup.
One thing I liked: Nouhou was one of the players who upped his intensity after the red card, pushing forward and trying hard for Seattle, who had a number of chances to score, even down a man. His combination centrally with Yeimar allowed the Sounders to push numbers due to their coverage, and his stout defending limited Portland’s effectiveness on counters until late.
One thing I didn’t like: In the last 10 minutes, Seattle still had a chance to rescue a point from this match when Nouhou found himself in the middle, slowing down a counter due to a bad turnover up field. Turning his back, the shot hit his outstretched arm for a penalty that sealed the match for Portland. Seattle had the break covered, and this was a pointless attempt to block a long shot that Frei likely saves.
Going forward: Nouhou desperately misses consistency in the center of the defensive unit and is committing errors outside the defined tactical setup.
Jackson Ragen – 4 | Community – 3.7 (off 46’, red card)
For the second straight home match, rookie Ragen has run the defense centrally, and both times he’s looked awful, committing errors that directly led to goals against. In the Portland match, his aggressive tenor was at odds with teammates’ positioning and fed into the opponent’s counter attacking style, leaving Jackson often out of position and without support.
One thing I liked: In the 15th minute, Jackson had a nice near-post header flicked to the far post on a corner kick, but a Portland defender on the line was able to save what would have put Seattle up a goal.
One thing I didn’t like: An overly aggressive header with 15 seconds left in the half and an overly aggressive tackle 20 seconds after the second half start meant Ragen was carded off the field for less than a minute of bad decisions. There is zero reason to be so aggressive pressing a counter attacking team, and Jackson repeatedly created gaps in the central defense as he charged forward to attempt to win every ball. That earned him a game and a half off.
Going forward: Ragen was bound to have some growing pains, but it’s tough that his mistakes are directly costing Seattle on the scoreboard. His play centrally has been a struggle for himself, has led to less effectiveness by teammates, and is a definite issue to watch moving forward.
Yeimar – 5 | Community – 5.4
Yeimar struggled on the back line, unable to keep a cohesive line with Ragen, and they were often at odds with each other positionally. His stats were fine: 90 percent passing, four clearances, three interceptions, and two tackles.
One thing I liked: Even down a man, Seattle was able to play aggressive attacking soccer due to the coverage of Nouhou and Yeimar, who combined to blanket large swaths of the field and allowed teammates to push higher. Yeimar was especially aggressive, finding himself often as the central defender/sweeper.
One thing I didn’t like: Too many times in the first half, Yeimar was playing like a sweeper instead of marking opponents, and Portland scored their first goal right over his head as he furiously marked the penalty spot. Later as he tired, he wasn’t even in the picture as Portland scored, lagging up field.
Going forward: Yeimar and the entire Seattle defense look like they miss Arreaga.
Alex Roldan – 6 | Community – 5.2 (off 81’ for Chú)
Like his teammates, Alex had nice stats. His 91 percent passing was great for possession, and he had a key pass among 83 touches.
One thing I liked: Roldan spent most of his day high and creating space on the right and would pinch inside to press centrally on the few occasions Portland tried to break out through the middle in the second half.
One thing I didn’t like: Alex was 0/5 on crosses, constantly settling to join his teammates in futile wide play that got the ball into dangerous areas on occasion but more often served up pleasant headers for the organized Portland defense.
Going forward: Seattle gets a lot of offense through the combination play on the right side, but it needs to find more than just long crosses.
Kelyn Rowe – 5 | Community – 4.9 (off 64’ for Atencio)
Rowe was okay defensively, adding some intensity early and clogging passing lanes on breaks, but as the match continued, he was unable to show that little bit of class needed to put through the killer pass or finish the shooting opportunity.
One thing I liked: Rowe connected nicely in a first half that saw Seattle dominate the ball and earn multiple great chances. Kelyn’s ability to facilitate others was helpful as the Sounders attacked in waves.
One thing I didn’t like: There was a long stretch where Rowe was just sort of there, not doing much, and he wasn’t the dynamic attacker they needed centrally. On his one shot he mis-hit a volley and squandered a very solid chance.
Going forward: Rowe has played everywhere this season but hasn’t found a landing spot yet.
Albert Rusnák – 6 | Community – 5.7 (off 75’ for Medranda)
Rusnák again played as a deeper playmaker from defensive midfield, often pushing high to penalize Portland’s defensive posture. He led Seattle with four shots and was continually making direct runs into and around the box as the Sounders attempted to penetrate the deep defensive positioning of the away team.
One thing I liked: Albert gives Seattle a very attack-minded defensive midfielder who can link up and move the ball through the midfield cleanly. Often it was Rusnák who started the buildup for the Sounders, moving the ball on the dribble and linking smoothly (93 percent passing).
One thing I didn’t like: Although Rusnák got into great shooting chances once again, he failed to get any of his shots on target, either putting them wide or having them blocked by quickly closing defenders. We really could have used him putting those on frame.
Going forward: With a revolving cast of partners in defensive midfield and across the back, Albert has had to adjust tactically nearly every match, with varying amounts of success. I would be interested in seeing Nico and Rusnák together more.
Jordan Morris – 6 | Community – 5.2
Morris had a game of almosts, setting up teammates or himself in moments where a slightly different bounce or touch could have drastically changed the scoreline. He only touched the ball 30 times, but Jordan’s vertical runs stretched Portland several times.
One thing I liked: Morris found 92 percent completion and didn’t cross the ball a single time, finding three key passes via incisive connection instead of hopeful looped crosses that many of the other Sounders repeatedly attempted.
One thing I didn’t like: Obviously not able to sprint vertically the entire match in the hot Seattle weather, Morris nonetheless was more limited in the second half, and as a point forward was less effective with his back to goal.
Going forward: Jordan consistently creates big chances for himself and others, and Seattle must take better advantage of these moments.
Nico Lodeiro – 6 (MOTM) | Community – 6.1 (MOTM)
Nico had a very up and down match, creating many strong chances for the Sounders but also struggling to connect that one big moment that would have put Seattle on track for points.
One thing I liked: Lodeiro never stopped trying to set up others, with a massive 101 touches and directly creating a game-high four key passes. Nico nearly scored early, forcing a reaction save after a nice central run.
He also earned a tying penalty kick which he converted on the way to a Sounders win.
One thing I didn’t like: With Portland bunkering in, Seattle, and especially Lodeiro, settled too often for crossing into the box and hoping things would happen. Nico was by far the biggest culprit, attempting a massive 13 crosses and only connecting on three.
Going forward: Seattle has to figure out a better way to attack defenses, especially with Ruidíaz likely out for a while. Moving Nico is one place to consider.
Cristian Roldan – 6 | Community – 6.1
Roldan worked very hard against Portland but was not able to break through. Especially after the red card, his work rate allowed Seattle to be relevant up the right wing even down a man.
One thing I liked: As usual, he did some of everything, with three shots, two key passes, two tackles, and the tactical flexibility to move central after Rowe subbed out.
One thing I didn’t like: Roldan’s 80 percent passing was some of the worst on the team, showing a bit of uncharacteristic sloppiness and an inability to find clean connections with teammates in the attacking third.
Going forward: Cristian is a dynamic playmaker who can be utterly dominant at multiple places and may be an interesting piece to redeploy centrally.
Raúl Ruidíaz – 6 | Community – 5.4 (off 81’ for Bruin)
Raúl is usually a Portland killer, but in this one he struggled to find space among a very compact defense and then left with an injury. He was very active, finding 32 touches and four shots but was unable to score on a day when he was clearly frustrated, even before subbing out hurt.
One thing I liked: Raúl was so close on multiple occasions, often due to creative movement, repeatedly finding space in a packed box to create opportunities. Although called offside multiple times, it was Ruidíaz who stretched the Portland defense and created gaps for the midfield to work underneath.
One thing I didn’t like: Raúl had a wide-open shot moments before halftime with a chance to tie the match going into the break. He put it off the post, clearly disgusting himself and allowing the bad timeline to move forward.
Going forward: I really hope he’s not badly hurt.
Josh Atencio – 4 | Community – 4.8 (on 64’ for Rowe)
Josh subbed in and played a hybrid right defensive midfielder and fullback, oscillating central and wide.
One thing I liked: Atencio was calm in possession and made several necessary defensive plays to retain possession as Seattle pushed forward for an equalizer.
One thing I didn’t like: He wasn’t playing any particular position and was somewhat lost, dropping back to be the last defender as Portland broke out to put the game away late.
Going forward: It was nice to see Atencio, but we have no idea what he can do because the game state was so ruined by the time he came in.
Jimmy Medranda – 4 | Community – 4.7 (on 75’ for Rusnák)
With Rusnák tiring, Seattle subbed on attackers willy-nilly, and so Medranda arrived to attempt to unlock the Portland defense.
One thing I liked: Medranda completed all his touches, including releasing Lodeiro up the left wing after some creative dribbling which led to a chance.
One thing I didn’t like: Creative dribbling got Medranda in big trouble in the 79th minute as he was dispossessed dribbling 10 yards into the attacking third. He chased the ball back, only in time to see a shot go off Nouhou’s arm for a PK, severely hampering the chance of winning.
Going forward: Jimmy had a lot of energy, but it wasn’t correctly directed and hurt the team. If he wants to play more consistently, he must maximize his positive impact in the time he gets.
Léo Chú – 4 | Community – 4.8 (on 81’ for Alex Roldan)
Chú came in for Alex to try to add more pace and direct play on the width.
One thing I liked: One hundred percent passing.
One thing I didn’t like: An “impact” sub with 10 minutes to play only got seven touches and did nothing to impact the match positively.
Going forward: I expected more from Chú, especially after his last outing, but he was almost invisible.
Will Bruin – 4 | Community – 4.8 (on 81’ for Ruidíaz)
Will came in for a hurt Ruidíaz.
One thing I liked: He completed 100 percent of his passes.
One thing I didn’t like: Will only touched the ball a single time. In 10 minutes plus stoppage.
Going forward: If you are subbing in late in a rivalry game you must do something. Anything.
Chris Penso – 3 | Community – 2.3
Penso has been an okay ref for Seattle but has also been very eager to give out red cards, compared to other referees when reffing Sounders. This was the case again against Portland, this time aided by Daniel Radford, the VAR who should never ref Sounders matches after that ridiculous red card wedding farce in the Open Cup, let alone be connected to a Seattle versus Portland game.
One thing I liked: Ignoring multiple dives in the box for penalty shouts was a favor Penso rarely gives Seattle, but both Blanco and one of the Charas failed to bait a PK.
One thing I didn’t like: In minute 38, there were two incorrect calls that completely changed the match. The first was Nico Lodeiro clearly being fouled in the box for an uncalled PK that was about as obvious as you can get. While he was down, Eryk Williamson, already on a yellow, hacked down Cristian Roldan in a cardable offense late and without being near the ball, not unlike the foul that Ragen would be sent off for minutes later. In about 20 seconds, Seattle should have either had the tying penalty kick given or Williamson red carded off the field. Neither happened.
Going forward: What a joke.
Portland Timbers MOTM
I rarely have strong opinions in this space, but Larrys Mabiala was the correct answer. He had a whopping 11 clearances and was one of the few Portland players to not commit a plethora of fouls (called or ignored). Other than that, hey, solid effort trying to get Penso and Co. the award their performance deserved.
Next up: Midweek game to try to wash that taste out of our mouth. Go good guys.