A slumping Sounders team traveled to Chicago and lost for the third time in as many tries, falling 1-0 to a bad team in a game that wasn’t encouraging for Seattle fans. Again missing key components, the Sounders came out flat, gave up an early goal, and then played off the back foot for the rest of the match. While they were able to create 15 shots, only two were on frame and yet again the team was held scoreless. Juggling tactics and personnel failed to bring much excitement to a team that is struggling as the summer continues.
Stefan Cleveland – 7 | Community – 6.6 (MOTM)
Cleveland got another start for a protocol Frei and again did well, saving everything he should, a few he shouldn’t, and only conceding a single goal from a broken-down defense. Where have I written that before?
One thing I liked: He had two giant saves, the first coming in the 18th minute after a poor clearance from Yeimar, and the second in the 26th, stopping a breakaway after Chicago went in behind. These saves kept Seattle in the match with at least a chance at points.
One thing I didn’t like: It’s hard to pin a lot of the goalscoring opportunities that Seattle’s defense is allowing on Stef, but a poor clearance in the 12th minute didn’t help his cause, and the general disorganization could have used firmer direction from the back.
Going forward: Cleveland again didn’t have much say in how this game ended.
Nouhou – 6 | Community – 6.1 (off 83’ for Teves)
Nouhou had an average match, doing his defensive work well and controlling possession on his 68 touches. His passing was fine, (79 percent) and as he pushed forward, he did manage a shot, but most of his success was limiting Chicago defensively, and he led the Sounders with three tackles.
One thing I liked: Nouhou’s offensive impact has been much maligned, but he is trying and accomplishing some new things going forward. An absolutely beautiful 51st minute over the top ball to Cristian Roldan was a new wrinkle, showing an ability to switch field offensively and create from deeper positioning.
One thing I didn’t like: The entire match was sloppy, and players pressed hard trying to make something happen. We don’t need to see Nouhou forcing a right-footed shot, no matter how desperate we are for offensive energy.
Going forward: Nouhou immediately cleaned up his defensive issues from the last match with Xavier Arreaga next to him. Moving Roldan to his side was an interesting idea to keep track of for the future.
Xavier Arreaga – 6 | Community – 5.7 (off 65’ for Ragen)
Arreaga returned and solved some of the issues on the left that happened while he was out. His communication and passing through the middle helped Seattle build vertically, and he earned a tidy 95 percent in his 65-minute stint.
One thing I liked: Xavier’s ability to move the ball was evident, as he consistently chose one-touch passes that moved the ball across the field or through the middle quickly, injecting urgency into a sometimes-complacent Seattle attack.
One thing I didn’t like: The organization on the Fire goal was atrocious, with Yeimar chasing the ball defensively and leaving a giant gap centrally, and Xavi following and then retreating and clearly recognizing the danger but unable to do more than watch Rafael Czichos score behind him.
Going forward: Bringing Arreaga brought more cohesion to the back and fewer mishaps than previous matches, but the final result remained the same.
Yeimar – 7 (MOTM) | Community – 5.7
Yeimar was at times the best defender on the field, and at others was directly responsible for Chicago’s big chances as his positioning didn’t sync up with teammates. Statistically, he was excellent as usual, with six won headers, three shots, and 85 percent passing while getting the most touches on the team (87).
One thing I liked: With Chicago probing through the Seattle right, Yeimar was very busy, and he generally did a good job covering for others around him who were consistently beaten. This led to high defensive numbers — eight interceptions and five clearances.
One thing I didn’t like: Seattle gave up big chances and a goal directly any time Yeimar made a mistake. A mis-clear in the 18th minute immediately became a first-time shot on goal, forcing a Cleveland save. Charging aggressively forward to the left to defend in the 23rd minute left a giant gap behind that Chicago scored from moments later. The Fire nearly scored a second goal in the 26th minute when Kelyn Rowe and Yeimar were easily split on a long through ball.
Going forward: Seattle can either stop conceding every time the defense makes the smallest mistake or the defense can stop making any mistakes. Problem solved.
Kelyn Rowe – 4 | Community – 4.7 (off 57’ for A. Roldan)
Rowe started at right fullback and was ineffective both offensively and defensively for most of the first half before heating up just in time to sub out. He played 57 minutes and in that time managed a key pass on 35 touches without contributing much defensively.
One thing I liked: A beautiful sliding save on the end line right before half helped earn Seattle a set piece, and he followed this up in the 53rd with an excellent cross to earn his single key pass of the match.
One thing I didn’t like: The defensive cohesion was a mess on the right, with Rowe and Yeimar crossed up badly on multiple occasions. On both big Chicago scoring chances, Yeimar was caught forward and Rowe was nowhere to be found. On the Fire goal, Rowe was marking no one.
Going forward: Rowe has looked very strong every few matches, independent of where he plays on the field, but most of his outings look like this, where he is outmatched and struggling just to keep even.
Danny Leyva – 5 | Community – 5.8 (off 65’ for Montero)
Danny, coming off an excellent appearance in the last match, earned a start and was underwhelming. A gifted passer and distributor, Levya struggled to provide the cover needed in a revamped Seattle midfield. He contributed a shot, three tackles, and an interception defensively as he tried to cover the gaps in an at-times porous midfield.
One thing I liked: Leyva was strong at pushing the ball forward, and an 18th minute pass put Nico Lodeiro forward into space, something that was lacking in the previous match.
One thing I didn’t like: The team needed someone to cover a lot of gaps in the midfield and he wasn’t able to do so. When the defensive midfielders were not in perfect unison, Chicago was able to penetrate directly down the center of the field.
Going forward: Leyva has a valuable skill set, but this match didn’t show him as the perfect partner with Albert Rusnák if he must cover everything behind him when Albert pushes into the attack.
Albert Rusnák – 6 | Community – 5.6
Rusnák was fine in the middle but was not quite able to create the big play, finish the open shot, or find the final pass that would have unlocked the goal for Seattle. Playing aggressively, Albert often found himself in the attacking third; as a result, he led the team with four shots and added two key passes while completing 91 percent.
One thing I liked: Albert does a lot of things well, like his set piece service which was outstanding against Chicago. I was particularly impressed with a 53rd minute switching pass that was inch-perfect up to the width to spark a Seattle attack.
One thing I didn’t like: If Rusnák is going to play so far forward, he must do better with his big chances. An open volley in the 79th minute went wide, and Albert was a large part of a misfiring offense that shot often with poor accuracy.
Going forward: Albert is doing his best in the 8 position, but without strong defensive support, Seattle is vulnerable through the middle. Finding his best position/complement may be the key to future success.
Jordan Morris – 6 | Community – 5.4
This was another game where it didn’t seem like Morris did much, but he was the main offensive catalyst and one of few effective attackers for Seattle, albeit in limited chances. Jordan had two shots and importantly put them both on frame, accounting for 100 percent of Seattle’s shots on goal. Although he only touched the ball 23 times, he was impactful in spurts.
One thing I liked: I liked the thought process of switching Morris to the right, which gave him a different perspective and led to a nice breakaway and shot in the 7th minute. His tactical flexibility is very important to the team.
One thing I didn’t like: After getting a shot on frame in the 7th minute, Seattle (and Jordan) didn’t get another until the 88th minute, when he got in behind and was unable to get more than a toe on a shot with a chance to steal a point.
Going forward: Seattle has become reliant on Morris as an over-the-top threat, but I believe there is more value to his game than that.
Nico Lodeiro – 5 | Community – 5.2
Nico returned to the attacking midfield role he has had much success in for his Sounders career, but struggled in his third match in a week. While his underlying stats looked good (team-high four key passes, two shots), the impact we have come to expect from Lodeiro was nowhere in sight, as Seattle struggled to create offense.
One thing I liked: His four key passes included creating both of Seattle’s big chances, each time facilitating Jordan Morris in space.
One thing I didn’t like: Other than looking for through balls, Nico seemed lost for ways to work with an ineffective Will Bruin and a Seattle offense that was out of sync. He resorted to looping in hopeful crosses, ending with a pitiful two of 10. Every time he lost possession, Chicago was able to break out and create big chances.
Going forward: Three matches in a week is a big ask for a guy who runs as much as Nico, and this performance was unfortunately predictable.
Cristian Roldan – 6 | Community – 5.2
Cristian, as usual, was effective in the soccer match, but barely rated in my notes and on the stat sheet, as he did a lot of things well without high or lowlights. He had the fifth most touches, created two key passes, and completed 80 percent, but was muted in big moments.
One thing I liked: A beautiful 32nd minute turn into the box showcased some excellent dribbling and individual creation, something Seattle has struggled with.
One thing I didn’t like: Roldan worked hard but wasn’t cohesive with Rowe in the first half, moved to the left and was invisible, and then failed to do more than tread water and support centrally for much of the game.
Going forward: After the last match, I mentioned Cristian seemed tired and unable to impact the game. That he went another 90 after that means this was a predictable result from a guy who could use a rest.
Will Bruin – 4 | Community – 4.5 (off 58’ for Chú)
It was Will Bruin’s chance to start up top for Seattle and he struggled. A game after subbing in and being an offensive spark, Bruin was unable to translate that performance forward into anything in a starting role. Bruin had 25 touches and failed to impact the match positively before being subbed out early in the second half.
One thing I liked: In the 34th minute Bruin had his best offensive moment, fumbling away possession but working hard to win it back, then adding a free kick won in possession to give Seattle a rare and important set piece chance.
One thing I didn’t like: Will looked close to a few chances in the 3rd and 50th minutes, but flubbed a breakaway chance and failed to put either of his two shots on frame.
Going forward: This match was a struggle for Bruin, who showed as recently as the game prior that he can play much better.
Léo Chú – 5 | Community – 4.3 (on 58’ for Bruin)
Chú arrived to provide energy into a fading match but struggled to find the ball and integrate into the offense.
One thing I liked: Immediately after arriving, Chú had excellent defense, with a 64th minute tackle and hustle showing some great two-way effort.
One thing I didn’t like: Léo had very little impact in the match, with 14 inconsequential touches leading to zero shots and few opportunities.
Going forward: Chú has shown flashes of talent but is still an odd fit for a Sounders team that consistently looks like it’s on a different page.
Alex Roldan – 5 | Community – 5.1 (on 58’ for Rowe)
Roldan was an improvement on Rowe, but other than some hustle, he was mostly a non-factor on the right.
One thing I liked: Eighty-nine percent passing and 27 touches showed an active and willing runner for Seattle on the right, with a 66th minute cross through the box nearly creating a big chance.
One thing I didn’t like: Seattle wasn’t able to combine up the right and leverage this to offset other teams and pull them out of tactical shape as they usually can.
Going forward: Alex got some rest in this match and should be ready for the next.
Jackson Ragen – 5 | Community – 5.2 (on 65’ for Arreaga)
Ragen returned from red card exile and gave the recently injured Arreaga an early break.
One thing I liked: Jackson had a ton of touches, with 24 in limited minutes, spraying passes around from the back including a beautiful 74th minute switch.
One thing I didn’t like: He wasn’t a factor in either direction.
Going forward: Hopefully Ragen learned from his red card experience and will not want to settle for starting behind Arreaga, which offers the team excellent depth.
Fredy Montero– 5 | Community – 4.7 (on 65’ for Leyva)
Fredy subbed in for Leyva and immediately pushed up front as Seattle added attackers en masse early in the second half.
One thing I liked: Montero helped the Seattle shape with more cohesive movement and off-ball running to create space for others. He had a great fake in the 87th minute.
One thing I didn’t like: Seattle tried to get more attackers on, including Fredy, yet he only got 11 touches in half an hour of work which resulted in zero shots.
Going forward: Neither Bruin nor Montero has shown consistency as a Ruidíaz replacement, and it’s likely we will see the platoon for the foreseeable future.
Dylan Teves– 5 | Community – 4.6 (on 83’ for Nouhou)
Teves returned to the field in a substitute performance, pulling a fullback off and changing the tactics to pour attackers forward. He had six touches in an inconsequential appearance.
One thing I liked: Dylan made at least one nice run, showing a nose for where the ball would go and exhibiting good soccer instincts.
One thing I didn’t like: Teves was immediately dispossessed upon entering, and never looked comfortable, with only 50 percent passing.
Going forward: This appearance won’t define his career.
Pierre-Luc Lauziere – 6 | Community – 4.9
I was unfamiliar with this referee, and his first time refereeing the Seattle Sounders and being rated by me was rather mundane. His style was readily apparent, allowing plenty of physical play but doing well to communicate with the players, which limited the need for the whistle. He called 20 total fouls and showed but a single yellow, allowing a lot of play to continue without adjudication.
One thing I liked: Kelyn Rowe deserved a card in the 24th minute but this referee allowed play to continue with advantage, returning after the play to appropriately card the Seattle right back.
One thing I didn’t like: The physical play was almost too much, which necessitated adjustment from the players, and Lauziere was baited into a free kick on an 11th minute Chicago dive. I thought Morris had earned a yellow on a 77th minute break as he was pulled down.
Going forward: This referee should also get all of Penso’s games, IMO.
Chicago Fire MOTM
Rafael Czichos, a player Keith Costigan may or may not have described as a “man mountain” during the broadcast, defined this outing for Chicago. Not only did the towering centerback help to limit Seattle to the aforementioned two shots on goal, he also expertly drifted off the back shoulder to nod in the only goal of the match in the second phase of a set piece. Well done, large human.
Next up: Seattle must start winning matches, and this weekend is a great time to do so.