Seattle played a home match against the Colorado Rapids and immediately got on the wrong foot, conceding in the 3rd minute, as another defensive rotation took time to gel. Refusing to fold, Seattle was the better team for the remainder of the match, even playing a man down after a second foolish red card in three matches. (Four matches? Losses all feel the same.) The Sounders found a goal right before half time and forced a 71st minute penalty kick that was converted for a deserved 2-1 win, breaking their losing streak and offering some momentum as they leave home.
Stefan Frei – 6 | Community – 6.8
Frei had a quiet night, facing eight shots and making two saves, being tested at the start of both halves as the defense was good for most of the match.
One thing I liked: Stefan had to make a save and push the ball wide in the 46th minute, preventing a repeat of the defensive breakdown right after the opening kickoff. He made sure to push the ball well clear of an onrushing Michael Barrios lurking on the back post.
One thing I didn’t like: Just moments into the match, Seattle’s defense was split, and Frei came out aggressively to cut the angle but made an awkward attempt to save without giving up a penalty, missing Jonathan Lewis and opening up the entire goal.
Going forward: Frei hasn’t excelled in the kind of 1-v-1 saves he missed in this match, and that’s okay.
Kelyn Rowe – 4 | Community – 4.8 (off 47’ Red Card)
Tactically, Rowe’s inclusion on the left seemed to do something, although it wasn’t always positive. When it worked, Seattle’s spacing and movement through the wing was quick, incisive and consistently dangerous. When Rowe tired or was unable to defend, the side was exposed. Oh, and he got sent off for two silly cards.
One thing I liked: Surging up the left and dropping an excellent 20th minute cross to Jordan Morris earned Rowe a key pass in a nifty combination.
One thing I didn’t like: Much of Colorado’s offense was smartly focused on Michael Barrios, who abused Rowe on multiple occasions and exposed some inconsistent positioning. Barrios blowing by Rowe in the 22nd minute earned a yellow card for a deliberate hand ball on a play Xavier Arreaga had covered. Kelyn compounded this by picking up a second yellow moments into the second half, getting sent off for throwing a ball over the ad board. Knowing it is a point of emphasis for referees, this was an absurdly stupid thing to do on a yellow card, early in the half, in a tied match your team is dominating, and there was zero advantage to doing that.
Going forward: Coach Schmetzer seemed more impressed by Rowe staying in the locker room to apologize for this mistake than upset that the veteran put his team in this position in the first place. YMMV.
Xavier Arreaga – 7 | Community – 7.1
Arreaga again showed how improved the defense can be with him in the middle, marshaling the forces around him and distributing from the back. He was strong in both offensive and defensive phases of the match, denying any purchase from Colorado offensively, and using his excellent passing to nullify some pressure from being down a man. He had six clearances, two interceptions, and two tackles, while completing 80 percent of his attempts, including a key pass.
One thing I liked: Early on, Arreaga showed great cohesion with Albert Rusnák and Cristian Roldan in front of him, and in the 17th minute he juggled the ball past Barrios and aggressively dribbled forward into the center of the pitch, pulling the defense toward him before laying the ball off to Morris. A give-and-go later and Jordan was teeing up Nico Lodeiro for a tremendous chance on goal.
One thing I didn’t like: A 66th minute pass within his own area was nearly stolen and another example of almost too much relaxed play in the defense. This was a time to clear the ball, not make a short give-and-go within the Sounders box.
Going forward: Xavi’s ability to aggressively push the ball into attacking areas with dribbling and passing unlocks immense potential for Seattle to attack more quickly.
Yeimar – 7 | Community – 6.4
Yeimar was excellent after the first five minutes, showing off his strong aerial presence (four headers won) and leading Seattle with a ridiculous 10 clearances. His passing was sparkling as well, with 5/7 on long balls completed as part of an 88 percent outing.
One thing I liked: Late on, with Colorado finally trying to attack, it was repeatedly Yeimar who rebuffed their attempts. Time and again he would outjump and out-physical his opponents into a won header or clearance, helping preserve a Sounders win.
One thing I didn’t like: On the Colorado goal Yeimar was caught flat-footed, with a simple through ball put by him as a runner ran behind and scored. He must be more aware of these angles. He did have a chance to rectify this on an excruciating sequence in the 41st minute, missing twice within the box on a corner kick, somehow failing to score for Seattle.
Going forward: When Arreaga is in, Yeimar tends to have better passing numbers and they look great next to each other.
Alex Roldan – 6 | Community – 6.4
Roldan returned to the starting lineup and was aggressive going forward, helping balance the Seattle attack and finding luck as a two-way player. His 89 percent passing was excellent and highlighted by multiple key passes as Alex charged up the wing with Jimmy Medranda often tucking inside.
One thing I liked: Alex had two shining plays, the first in the 8th minute as he found himself in a 1-v-3 defensive position and won a header, clearing the danger. The second came 75 minutes later, as Roldan had a beastly dribble forward past four defenders, earning a corner kick.
One thing I didn’t like: The cohesion up the right wing was spotty, with Roldan starting and stopping runs on several occasions, finding himself out of sync with teammates while adjusting to his brother next to him instead of front of him. When he got forward, he tended to settle for crosses and lower percentage choices offensively.
Going forward: Alex was a welcome returning starter and continues to produce consistently.
Cristian Roldan – 7 | Community – 7.2
Cristian moved back to the center defensive midfield position and immediately had a transformative impact. His positioning and ground cover unlocked Rusnák to play higher, and both combined brilliantly in the midfield to further enable attacking pieces forward. His 62 touches came all over the field, he completed 88 percent passing while dropping a key pass, and he won three tackles.
One thing I liked: At times it seems Cristian is the only person who understands how broken Jordan Morris can make a soccer match, and moving Roldan centrally didn’t change this. Time and again, Cristian looked up and dropped through balls and over-the-top passes for Morris. When he didn’t choose to make that pass, this combination stretched the defense out of shape, allowing Roldan to find other options easily through the middle.
One thing I didn’t like: It took a while for the Crusnák (?) pairing to gel, and part of the Colorado goal was due to neither of the defensive mids stepping to Diego Rubio, instead getting pulled apart and allowing the opponent time to find the splitting pass.
Going forward: Roldan looks great wherever he plays, because he is a great player. This spot helps the team in a different, but perhaps more important way than his play as a winger.
Albert Rusnák – 8 | Community – 7.6
Rusnák was tremendous against Colorado, unlocked by the pairing with Roldan and displaying quick, assertive decision making to move the ball forward and attack the opponent. His 60 touches and 89 percent passing were strong, but it was his effective defensive partnership with Roldan (four tackles) and the way he unlocked space for Nico and Morris to move through and attack that stood out.
One thing I liked: Albert’s 69th minute pass back across the grain of play to find a backside runner (Morris) perfectly in stride was not just nice, it was borderline magic. It is hard to “feel” the runs of teammates off your back shoulder, especially if you are pushing the ball one way, getting bodied by Bryan Acosta, and have Will Bruin screaming for a through ball forward. Rusnák processed all this and casually hit a backside ball so perfectly that three players all turned at the same time to get a perfect view of Morris charging into the box with the ball.
One thing I didn’t like: Rusnák took a free kick in the 36th minute and again struggled, adding to Seattle’s ongoing woes when it comes to dead balls.
Going forward: Colorado didn’t play well, so it’s premature to judge this central pairing, but so far Cristian looks like a good defensive mid partner for Albert.
Jordan Morris – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 8.4 (MOTM) (off 93’ for Montero)
Morris was unleashed against Colorado. After a few matches when he was bottled up offensively, he exploded in this one with seven shots and, more impressively, five shots on goal. He also created for others, dropping in a team-high three key passes, completed 91 percent of his attempts, scored, and earned a PK to create both of Seattle’s goals.
One thing I liked: Morris was relentless. After getting a 10th minute shot, he set up Nico seven minutes later for a great chance. He finished clean in the 43rd minute after having another great chance saved five minutes prior. He earned the game-winning penalty by running past Keegan Rosenberry not once but twice on the same play.
One thing I didn’t like: Jordan didn’t really defend at all, and while he wasn’t asked to do so very much, this put some pressure on Rowe, opening gaps in behind Morris.
Going forward: Jordan showed that if you get him enough touches, he will continue to produce, and that should be a blueprint for future success.
Nico Lodeiro – 7 | Community – 7.6
Nico was unlocked in this match, whether by the formation adjusting to an inverted right winger, a more attacking left back, more distributive defensive mid pairing, more space created via the red card, or a combination of all the above. This added up to an excellent three-shot, three key pass match where Lodeiro turned 88 touches into consistent offense.
One thing I liked: There is no one in the league better than Lodeiro at finishing penalty kicks, and when he was given the opportunity to put Seattle into the lead, he did so with enough power to ensure his perfect record would stay intact.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 17th minute Lodeiro missed an open look from a Morris pass and that’s now a few times we’ve seen him put this makeable shot over the bar.
Going forward: Lodeiro had space and time to work the ball and having a strong spine allowed him to play better.
Jimmy Medranda – 6 | Community – 6.5 (off 65’ for Dobbelaere)
Medranda played on the right and was steady, offering inverted and midfield support while opening an overlap channel for Alex. He only had 30 touches but did well to provide offensive impact in the form of two shots and two key passes in his 65 minute shift.
One thing I liked: Jimmy didn’t get either of his shots on goal but knew what to do with a quick reset in the 41st minute. First, he had beautiful control on a long Lodeiro ball, nestling the ball with his foot and immediately attacking the goal. Understanding the run of Morris, he laid off a ball to his teammate and earned a deserved assist when Jordan finished true.
One thing I didn’t like: It took Medranda some time to get into the flow of the Sounders possession, and a 25th minute poor pass killed an attack by missing a teammate forward.
Going forward: With Roldan’s move looking good, there are potential right wing minutes that Medranda has shown he can produce from.
Will Bruin – 6 | Community – 6.1 (off 83’ for Ragen)
Will started up top and didn’t have a sparkling match, but was part of an entire team that played significantly better than their last few outings. Willing to do much of the dirty work, Bruin had 32 touches, found two shots, and was a constant active member, disrupting shape and creating space.
One thing I liked: Will was an excellent support player and his holdup was improved in this match, with a 20th minute play showing off his back-to-goal skills. Bruin was also excellent on defensive corner kicks, supporting the defense and showing off some hops.
One thing I didn’t like: When not running off the ball to create space for others, Will struggled. Multiple times his on-ball touches were sloppy and he lost possession, such as a 49th minute through ball mistouch and a speculative 73rd minute shot that went awry.
Going forward: Whether it’s causal or correlative, if the team plays this well with Bruin, he is likely to continue to start while Raúl is out.
Ethan Dobbelaere – 5 | Community – 5.8 (on 65’ for Medranda)
Ethan came in to add energy to a team playing down a man, and he brought that. He only touched the ball 13 times, but he was a relentless hustler up and down the wing, contributing a defensive intensity that was needed.
One thing I liked: In the 86th minute Double Dare had a fantastic defensive series, showing off individual 1-v-1 defending in the corner, leading to a goal kick won for Seattle after some immense effort.
One thing I didn’t like: Although likely asked to be defense-minded, there were offensive opportunities missed due to poor positioning, the most egregious a 77th minute back-post run that went wanting and could have ended in a goal.
Going forward: Dobbelaere continues to gain tremendous praise from coaches and fans, but he’ll have to do a little more to live up to those high standards.
Jackson Ragen – 5 | Community – 5.6 (on 83’ for Bruin)
Ragen came in to add 77 inches of height to the defense and helped close out the win.
One thing I liked: He had four touches, one of which was indeed a won header, two clearances, and did what he was asked to do defensively, including an essential 93rd minute clearance.
One thing I didn’t like: Small sample size, but 50 percent passing can be improved.
Going forward: Ragen was trusted to come in and help lock up a lead late, hold on and win the match. Mission accomplished.
Fredy Montero – 5 | Community – 5.6 (on 93’ for Morris)
Montero came in to kill some clock and give Morris a deserved ovation.
One thing I liked: Fredy has some very good coffee at Santo.
One thing I didn’t like: He lost possession in the 93rd minute on his only touch of the match.
Going forward: Fredy continues to be a strong combination with Bruin.
Rosendo Mendoza – 4 | Community – 3.7
I have no idea what to rate a referee who gives one of the softest red cards I have ever seen. Originally, it would be a very low rating, but referees have been told to focus on and enforce delay tactics more this season, and the staff and players know this. While that helps explain why it happened, it is infuriating when your player is sent off the field for a harmless play. Adding to the the issue was Mendoza’s inconsistency in refereeing “delay” for the rest of the match, and his calls (and lack thereof) highlighted what a mess this was.
One thing I liked: Early on this ref was great, showing advantage in the 8th minute to allow play to move forward, and giving a 32nd minute yellow to Acosta for a bad foul.
One thing I didn’t like: The inconsistency in this match was maddening. It was insane that this ref allowed Colorado to delay the match without penalty from the first 10 minutes onward, yet red-carded someone out of the match for an infraction that could easily have been handled with a warning, or adding three seconds of extra time for the opponent to get a new ball.
Going forward: Knowing the coaches and players were aware of this heightened penalization of throwing the ball over the boards only makes Rowe look worse. It doesn’t make Mendoza look any better.
Colorado Rapids MOTM
First off, it’s such a thrill to be given the opportunity to write about someone other than the opposing goalscorer. Barrios’ primary influence on this match was the effect he had on Kelyn Rowe. His pace was always going to be an issue, and it scared Rowe into an intentional handball for his first yellow. Unfortunately for Colorado, outside of the early goal, their attack was rather anemic.
Next up: Media darlings in prime time on Friday night? Feeling better than … Steve? Does anyone care who coaches them?