Seattle ended their homestand in disappointing fashion, fizzling out in an uninspired performance that started out amazing but quickly went downhill. The final was 2-1 for the visiting Club de Foot Montréal, in a slog of a match. The Sounders and visitors each created five shots on goal but neither side looked dynamic, and other than a few moments, there was little excitement. Seattle struggled to deal with tactical pressure and overloaded midfield areas, as injuries and sickness dictated a midweek lineup that should have been strong enough to earn a point.
Stefan Frei – 6 | Community – 6.1
Coming off three shutouts in his last five games, it was starting to look like you could play any combination in front of Frei and Seattle would refuse to be scored upon. This theory was emphatically disproved by Montréal, who employed a winning combination of pressure on the Seattle center backs and opportunistic finishes. Frei had three saves but was part of a disorganized squad that didn’t adapt well to the press.
One thing I liked: Frei was assertive in the 14th minute, coming through friend and foe to punch away a dangerous cross. He had another excellent save in the 58th minute, keeping Seattle level for a few more minutes.
One thing I didn’t like: The defensive plan was inflexible, and when presented with a high press, the Sounders were both vulnerable to it and unable to adapt quickly enough to combat it. Frei was passive in supporting the defense, and he was part of the attempt to play through pressure, even after it was obvious they couldn’t do so consistently. Frei didn’t do much on either goal, and the team missed Xavier Arreaga’s assertive style of play in this match.
Going forward: Frei must step up and realize game states, and in this case abandon the possession in the back sooner. As a captain and veteran, he should have leverage to make these decisions, instead of waiting for tactical changes implemented by the coach via substitutions.
Nouhou – 6 | Community – 5.4
Nouhou struggled early in this match to combine up his wing and stay connected to Jackson Ragen next to him defensively, but he greatly improved after the tactics were changed up and he was pushed into more of a playmaking center back role, which he excelled at. His 93 percent passing was conservative but clean, and he had two tackles, three clearances, and eight recoveries defensively.
One thing I liked: Nouhou was his usual strong self, and looked very strong when dropping in more central and playing through the middle. His aggression and intensity were needed by a lagging team as the second half got sluggish. In the 91st minute he played near-perfect 1-v-3 defense, stopping Montréal from scoring almost by himself, and then surged forward for a 93rd minute shot, desperately trying to push Seattle to a point.
One thing I didn’t like: Seattle really struggled with the Montréal press, which was designed to isolate the center backs and force them to play out of pressure. In the first half, Nouhou was high and wide, attempting to support a similarly-positioned Jordan Morris in front of him, but this left large gaps that the center of the defense struggled to control. This positioning could have been used to the Sounder’s advantage had Nouhou been more aggressive in forward attacking, moving the ball vertically, but his cautious passing pushed the onus backwards and central to areas that Seattle failed to control.
Going forward: Nouhou has excelled and struggled both inside and wide, and he hasn’t quite settled into a consistent role defensively, which is an issue.
Jackson Ragen – 5 | Community – 4.7
Ragen again started on the left side of defense but struggled with the Montréal press, resulting in one major error and a number of questionable decisions. We have taken for granted his excellent passing and composure, but this match showed weaknesses in this particular center back pairing. Jackson did have excellent passing, 93 percent.
One thing I liked: Early on, Jackson showcased his dribbling ability, making a 2nd minute turn on the width that bought him space and opened up the field for a pass of his choosing. A beautiful offensive flick on a set piece nearly set up Roldan in the 48th.
One thing I didn’t like: No one struggled with the Montréal press more than Ragen, who, without time to find his usual expansive passes, was victimized on multiple occasions in possession. The worst came after a contested drop pass in the 18th minute. With Kei Kamara charging hard from the center, Jackson attempted a Cruyff turn under pressure and got it all wrong. He lost possession in a terrible spot with only Yeimar back to cover, and Montréal quickly converted. He was beaten on the second goal as well. Although Ragen has incredible foot skills, knowing when to take chances comes with experience; as he develops, he’ll turn a major game-changing mistake like this into an innocuous throw-in for the opponents.
Going forward: The most disconcerting takeaway from Ragen’s game wasn’t his multiple big blunders, but that after making them he completely shut down, becoming overly cautious and foregoing the aggressive play that earned him the start. He needs to shake off this performance, learn quickly from it, and find the balance for the next one.
Yeimar – 5 | Community – 5.6
Yeimar had an up and down match against Montréal, at times struggling to connect with his teammates and with the pressure the visiting team offered. His passing was fine (87 percent), and he led the team with three interceptions, but the central pairing with Ragen was shaky under pressure and they were unable to combine well through central areas.
One thing I liked: Early on Yeimar was aggressive, and his ability to intercept passes through the center helped spur Seattle into chances on the counter attack. A late back-post header and shot nearly rescued a point as the big defender moved up to play target forward.
One thing I didn’t like: Yeimar did not communicate well with Ragen on a few occasions, but the first goal was characteristic of both players making complicated decisions badly. Yeimar appropriately swung in behind to defend the 2-v-1 that Jackson presented upon being dispossessed, but instead of cutting down half the field, forcing Kamara to his right and a short angle and relying on Frei’s ability to stop a predictable near-post shot, Yeimar got caught in two minds, allowing a central pass to Mason Toye who had the entire goal to shoot at, handcuffing a flat-footed Frei who was easily beaten. Nouhou showed how to defend this play in the 91st minute and Yeimar needs to do better here.
Going forward: The communication from the center back pairing and defensive midfielders was tragic, and nothing illustrated this better than the second Montréal goal where a simple diagonal run in behind Yeimar left Ragen to be beaten wide, Yeimar marking no one as he casually stepped in behind Ragen, Nouhou caught in between a center goal run and back post and marking neither appropriately, and Kelyn Rowe slow to support. This must be fixed.
Alex Roldan – 6 | Community – 5.4
Roldan had a quiet match against Montréal, not being able to impact on either side, yet having solid stats. With the second most (84) touches on the team, Alex added 77 percent passing, two key passes, and three tackles defensively. Although the stats looked great, his influence on the match was minimal, as Seattle struggled to attack down his side.
One thing I liked: After a 36th minute free kick, Alex took a dribble into space and lifted an excellent cross to the back post that nearly found a teammate in some inspired combination on the right wing.
One thing I didn’t like: Alex had a few issues just controlling the ball, and he was part of a defensive unit that seemed wholly unprepared to attack a high opponent press and three-man backline. With plenty of gaps to attack, or a defensive shape to support back, Roldan got caught in the middle, often supporting neither and putting pressure on teammates.
Going forward: This was a match that needed more Alex Roldan in it, as he remains an underrated game changer.
Kelyn Rowe– 5 | Community – 4.7 (off 75’ for Medranda)
Rowe started centrally and struggled with the overloaded midfield, at times looking lost at navigating his positional responsibilities. His 91 percent passing was great on 48 touches, connecting with teammates well when he touched the ball, but he had a hard time finding his defensive cohesion from back to front and was often part of a failing middle of the field.
One thing I liked: Kelyn found a number of linking passes to the width to find an underused Roldan combo on the right.
One thing I didn’t like: It felt like Albert Rusnák and Rowe were never on the same page, and Kelyn had negative cohesion with the back line, putting undue pressure on an already overwhelmed fullback contingent. The biggest positional issue (of many) was being disconnected from Rusnák and not moving to cohesive spots, getting caught repeatedly flat and easily passed centrally.
Going forward: Rowe looked way off in this match and whether it was fatigue or something else, he must play more cohesively with all these star players around him or risk losing his time to others who will.
Albert Rusnák – 6 | Community – 5.7
Rusnák was unable to replicate his usual central midfield dominance, mostly because Montréal sacrificed defense to overload the midfield, which limited Rusnák and others from cohesion centrally. Rusnák had 75 touches but struggled to make penetrating vertical passes, completing the majority of his looks to wide areas.
One thing I liked: Snacks had a tremendous 89th minute driven cross that absolutely dialed up Alex to then find Morris in a gorgeous play that was almost an equalizer.
One thing I didn’t like: The connection between Rusnák, Rowe, and Nicolás Lodeiro was a jumble in this one, with Rowe and Rusnák being too redundant in their positioning and unable to move cohesively off Nico’s roaming.
Going forward: Rusnák definitely misses the high individual skill level of his previous center midfield partners. A more defined 6/8 role for his play with Rowe specifically will greatly help both, instead of trying to interchange.
Jordan Morris – 7 (MOTM) | Community – 6.5 (MOTM)
Jordan was the offense in this one, creating and finishing the few chances the team managed. With Montréal playing a high line and only three in the back, the defense was ripe for fast over-the-top play that Jordan and Cristian understood. Morris won four aerials, had three shots (all on target), and gave Seattle an early lead.
One thing I liked: It didn’t take long for Morris to continue his scoring form, getting on the end of a beautiful early cross, beating a man and scoring in the 3rd minute. He was repeatedly dangerous, including an 8th minute run again in behind everyone and a late chance to tie.
One thing I didn’t like: Morris had a few offensive miscues, including missing Cristian’s great run in the 13th minute, over-dribbling and missing a big chance in the 49th, and failing to convert a huge 89th minute header chance that could have rescued a point.
Going forward: Jordan needs help.
Nicolás Lodeiro – 6 | Community – 5.6
Lodeiro returned to the ball-dominant role from yesteryear and struggled to impress his will onto the match. Dealing with an overloaded middle, Nico was unable to create, and although he had 93 touches, he had only a single shot and didn’t register a key pass. His 87 percent completion and defensive work rate were helpful in the middle but overall, this game was a struggle for the Sounders captain.
One thing I liked: Nico ran everywhere, repeatedly popping up where a struggling Seattle squad needed him, especially in the second half. At times it felt like he was everywhere, linking up and furiously pushing Seattle into good positions that just barely failed.
One thing I didn’t like: Lodeiro’s movement at times forced other teammates into a tough decision or limited space for better runs from fellow Sounders. A good example is on the first Montréal goal where unless Nouhou immediately played it to Nico checking to (he didn’t), his only option was to go back to Ragen. Had Nico realized receiving a 5-yard pass facing his own goal there wasn’t optimal, he could have not cramped the space, thus opening the entire middle (and a wide-open Rusnák) as a potential option for Nouhou to pass to, or at least pull Kamara back defensively. Nico’s movement is almost always good, but when the rest of the team doesn’t adjust accordingly, it can force perfect execution from teammates.
Going forward: Nico misses Ruidíaz as the two have a great connection forward and he is still figuring out how to work with Bert.
Cristian Roldan – 7 | Community – 6.2
Cristian was strong in this match, understanding early and repeatedly trying to attack the weaknesses in the Montréal defensive setup. He filled up the stat book both offensively and defensively, contributing the lone assist as well as nearly scoring a header and continually dropping centrally to help support an overloaded middle.
One thing I liked: Roldan has a great connection with Morris and consistently looks for him over the top, a really smart move that pays off nearly every match. This game started out splendidly, with Cristian finding Jordan through for a goal with only three minutes gone, and he again found Morris in the 8th minute with Seattle nearly doubling their lead early.
One thing I didn’t like: Cristian’s influence waned in the second half as Seattle shuffled around looking for ways to attack, and this was one of the few times Roldan has looked tired, with a late touch fumbling out of bounds and Seattle losing.
Going forward: Roldan remains one of the most valuable players on this team, turning in goals and assists every match.
Fredy Montero – 5 | Community – 4.4 (off 66’ for Chú)
Fredy started at forward and it just didn’t work. Withdrawing deep into the midfield, Montero didn’t have the speed to support over the top runs and his positioning lower on the field eliminated vertical central attacks, forcing any Seattle success to originate very wide. Montero only had 14 touches, completing 91 percent of them before subbing out for a formation change.
One thing I liked: An excellent hold up in the 12th minute from Fredy showed how a withdrawn forward could work against the 3-back formation, and he responded with a key pass.
One thing I didn’t like: Montero was non-existent in this match, unable to threaten over the top and failing to draw any defensive shape when he dropped into the center. He failed to connect with teammates in any functional way, and it was questionable what he was trying to do on a number of occasions.
Going forward: Montero doesn’t have the hustle numbers of Will Bruin, but usually brings more intensity than this.
Léo Chú – 5 | Community – 4.9 (on 66’ for Montero)
Chú came in to switch up the formation (namely get verticality in Morris up top to press the center backs), and this change helped Seattle create more pressure almost immediately.
One thing I liked: Chú turned 20 touches into two shots, with an 83rd minute look a great spot that deserved a better attempt.
One thing I didn’t like: Almost immediately after arriving, Chú missed a Rusnák dummy that would have put him in free behind the entire defense, which was just a familiarity and communication breakdown.
Going forward: Chú offers the ability to push Morris high and still provide similar penetration up the left wing, but he needs to rapidly improve to be much more than a late sub.
Jimmy Medranda – 5 | Community – 5.2 (on 75’ for Rowe)
Medranda came in and fixed the midfield by subtraction, playing mostly on the left but also popping up centrally and connecting well offensively. He had 21 impactful touches, nearly connecting with teammates or setting himself up on multiple occasions.
One thing I liked: Jimmy instantly stole possession and created a chance upon subbing in, had a nice cross late, and nearly connected on a volley.
One thing I didn’t like: For all of his effort, this was an “almost” outing for Medranda and while he was close to having an impact, he was unable to contribute to a goal.
Going forward: Medranda has shown increasing value lately as an energy sub who also possesses an attacking wit and strong technical skills, which perhaps earns him more time.
Joseph Dickerson – 7 | Community – 5.4
Dickerson has reffed a lot of Sounders matches and done relatively well in all of them, this being no exception. He called a minuscule 15 total fouls, and the teams played hard and clean for most of the match.
One thing I liked: In the 35th minute Dickerson had a masterful sequence, allowing advantage for a hard foul before pulling back the ball when the attack died, awarding a free kick for Seattle, and issuing a deserved yellow card to Victor Wanyama.
One thing I didn’t like: Montero deserved to see yellow for a cynical foul in the 42nd minute and got away with it, but moments later Rowe earned himself one.
Going forward: Dickerson keeps doing well in Sounders matches. He even gave a quick yellow for time wasting in a very solid outing.
CF Montréal MOTM
Goalscorer Mason Toye wasn’t playing around! I’ll show myself out.
Next up: More Canadians this weekend, on short rest against the resurgent Fighting Shane O’Neills.