Seattle rebounded from a poor home showing by going on the road and routing a disheveled Toronto FC team. Despite starting a heavily rotated lineup missing upwards of seven starters, the Sounders were the better team, leveraging their vaunted culture and deep roster to plug in rookies and role players, resulting in an impressive road victory on short rest. The final was 2-0 and it could have been closer or more of a rout, depending on a few bounces, but the game always felt within Seattle’s control. The Sounders have shown they take talent from wherever they can, whether it’s a promising young player starting centrally or wide, college guys who excel in defense and attacking midfield, or veterans anchoring the middle or playing striker.
Stefan Cleveland – 7 | Community – 7.1
Cleveland stepped into goal and reminded everyone of our surprise that he wasn’t picked to be a starting keeper elsewhere during the offseason. Stefan was excellent, registering six saves and earning a deserved shutout.
One thing I liked: Toronto’s best chance to get into the match came in the 54th minute when Alejandro Pozuelo snuck between the center backs and got a toe on a difficult shot to redirect on goal. Cleveland was up to the task, sprawling wide and pushing the shot away, preventing a tying goal and removing Toronto’s hope of salvaging a result.
One thing I didn’t like: Moments after that tremendous save, Cleveland airballed a clearance over the head of Alex Roldan, and he missed wide open teammates on several occasions.
Going forward: Stefan Frei isn’t relinquishing his starting job, but it’s comforting to know that Cleveland can fill in admirably when fixture congestion, rotation, etc. present the opportunity.
Nouhou – 7 | Community – 7.3
Nouhou excelled in the back-three formation against Toronto, continually pressing his man into nonexistence while being tidy with the ball and allowing others to push forward and create opportunities. Three tackles, two interceptions, two clearances, seven recoveries and a sparkling 91 percent passing clip highlighted a dominant outing.
One thing I liked: In the 72nd minute Toronto was sniffing out a chance, but like multiple other occasions during this match, it was Nouhou who stepped forward and strongly dispossessed.
One thing I didn’t like: A 34th minute tackle was a bit of a mess, as he fouled and allowed Toronto a free kick, and charging forward late on offense from center back was a little misguided.
Going forward: Nouhou again looked solid defensively and is hopefully able to continue this consistent play no matter who is next to him.
Jackson Ragen – 7 | Community – 6.9
Ragen massively rebounded from a terrible outing midweek against Montreal. He started centrally and looked comfortable directing the defense to earn a shutout. Jackson outdid Nouhou with a team-high 95 percent passing completion rate, going 38/40 in the match. He added a team-high five clearances.
One thing I liked: Getting a bounce back performance like this says a lot about the mental strength of Ragen, who was dominant and strong just days after struggling. There was no hesitation or lack of confidence in himself, and any mental struggles he had during the last match were clearly in the past.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 49th minute Ragen badly missed a tackle, and he was lucky there were no runners to immediately take advantage of his positioning error.
Going forward: It was essential for Jackson to show that the shutdown from last match was a one-off, and he displayed the maturity we have come to expect from him. He has set an extremely high bar for expectations in a short time, and he continues to reach that bar.
Yeimar – 7 | Community – 6.9
Yeimar was the third center back in the Sounder trio and combined splendidly with his teammates to earn the shutout. Yeimar brought the physicality on the back line, leading the match with four tackles and adding multiple won headers.
One thing I liked: With Toronto probing the right side of the Sounders defense early, Yeimar closed down Pozuelo with ferocity and speed in the 7th minute to earn possession and set a tone of a strong, physical line of confrontation.
One thing I didn’t like: Defensively, Yeimar was a rock, but his distribution wasn’t great, only completing 69 percent of his passes and missing nearly every long ball he attempted.
Going forward: Playing a team without a strong physical presence up front allowed the Seattle backline to get their mojo back, and hopefully Yeimar and company can continue to develop a strong defensive partnership.
Jimmy Medranda – 7 | Community – 6.6 (off 60’ for Rowe)
Medranda was excellent, reprising a past role as a wingback in a five-man midfield. He did a little bit of everything, with a shot, a key pass, three tackles, and a clearance. Jimmy combined centrally, pushed the width, facilitated the attack, and defended his channels well in a very positive all-around performance.
One thing I liked: Jimmy was the safety valve, also an option for Cleveland, Nouhou or the DanNico central pair to push the ball wide, and he consistently did great stuff with the ball when he got it. One such time was first-time touching a long free kick from Stefan to Léo Chú in the 39th minute on the way to the opening goal.
One thing I didn’t like: There were a few opportunities for Jimmy to be more goal dangerous, and he missed 18th and 57th minute shots in embarrassing fashion.
Going forward: Medranda looks better the more time he gets, and has now shown value in multiple positions.
Danny Leyva – 7 | Community – 6.5
Leyva returned to the starting lineup and had a sparkling performance, showing all the skills and abilities that the club has been so high on for the past few years. Combining in the middle with Nico Lodeiro, Danny was excellent in possession, having the second-most touches on the team (65), completing 74 percent of his passes, and being a strong defensive presence in the middle.
One thing I liked: He co-led the team with tackles in a dominant physical defensive job that included 10 recoveries, but he also found attacking passes like his 4th minute split through ball. This was an excellent two-way performance that highlighted Danny’s ability to pressure and emulate the work rate of his DP partner centrally.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 10th minute Leyva was defensively excellent to win the ball but then immediately gave it away with a bad pass. There were a number of occasions like this where being overzealous pushed him into an unnecessary mistake.
Going forward: I’m not saying Leyva made Pozuelo look so bad that they traded him three days later, but I’m not not saying that either.
Nico Lodeiro – 8 | Community – 7.5 (MOTM)
Once again, Nico dropped a line into an ostensibly defensive midfield position and again showed incredible ability to impact the match in numerous ways. He unsurprisingly led the team with 87 touches and had a predictable 85 percent completion rate, but he also added three tackles and a fantastic 11 defensive recoveries.
One thing I liked: The DanNico center pair were everywhere, covering both offensively and defensively. When Danny covered, Nico consistently popped up in offensive areas, and when Nico got on the ball in the attacking third, he dropped one of the most impressive passes you will see for an assist in the 60th minute. We saw the pass, but Lodeiro didn’t — it was a no-look pass that split three defenders and put Fredy Montero in free — amazing.
One thing I didn’t like: It’s great that Nico is feeling better and back to being a ball-dominant player. However, his insistence on getting two-yard hospital passes from teammates while being blanket-defended by multiple opponents gets him into trouble if he’s not able to either beat those opponents or win a foul.
Going forward: Lodeiro dropping a line may not be a constant thing, but it’s clearly a tremendous option that so far is undefeated.
Alex Roldan – 6 | Community – 6.5
Alex was solid on the right wing, consistently supporting Dylan Teves in front of him while dropping back on defense into a five-man backline and stuffing any attempts from Toronto to penetrate the width. Roldan had 81 percent passing on his 64 touches, while adding a shot and a key pass from overlapping runs.
One thing I liked: Roldan pushed high often, recognizing Teves’ willingness to push into the middle with Lodeiro deep. One such moment was a fabulous cherry-pick dribble to create space and a perfect 52nd minute cross followed.
One thing I didn’t like: There was a big chance in the 12th minute for Alex to release a shot, but he held onto the ball too long, and a number of other passes went awry in a match where Roldan’s offensive impact was limited.
Going forward: Alex showed he can facilitate the success of whoever plays in front of him on the right, and that he can competently work in different tactical formations.
Léo Chú – 8 | Community – 7.3 (off 72’ for Atencio)
Chú was a menace down the Toronto right defense, continually running by defenders and creating rampant havoc. Nearly all of his 28 touches were direct and goal dangerous, and his decision making with the ball on offense was excellent. He led Seattle with three key passes, had the opening assist, and had an 88 percent pass completion rate.
One thing I liked: Léo beat his man handily in the 39th and then delivered a perfect angled pass back to Teves to open the scoring. Chú’s ability to get possession 40 yards from goal, create for himself or others, and deliver cleanly was on full display here.
One thing I didn’t like: A few small issues on defense highlighted a bit of confusion about his role tactically, and he almost knocked Montero out with a head shot.
Going forward: Chú continues to grow, and rewarded the patience of the staff with another glimpse of his high potential being realized.
Dylan Teves – 7 | Community – 6.9 (off 59’ for Dobbelaere)
Teves earned his first Sounders start and scored his first Sounders goal. Another in a long line of successful introductions to the first team, Dylan had 70 percent passing and was a great glue guy tactically who scored the opening goal and did some of everything to support those around him.
One thing I liked: After missing an earlier run, Teves had perfect outside movement in the 39th minute to cross the six-yard box and finish cleanly from a challenging angle. He showed great understanding of the moment and, similarly to how he played in college, has a nose for the right place to be and the smarts to execute the needed action when he gets there.
One thing I didn’t like: Early on, Dylan was tentative, choosing to play safe and not aggressively attacking Toronto. Although he scored the goal, he wasn’t directly creating for himself or others, remaining dependent on others to create for him.
Going forward: Teves doesn’t have a standout physical ability, but neither did Cristian Roldan.
Fredy Montero – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 7.4 (off 86’ for Baker-Whiting)
Fredy did a complete 180 from his midweek showing, turning in the clear standout performance for Seattle. Nearly everything came from his intense work rate, whether it was defending from the front or creating for others via holdup or finishing cleanly when the opportunity was given. Montero was the most dangerous offensive player on the field: scoring a goal, hitting the crossbar, and nearly creating multiple other chances.
One thing I liked: Normally I would laud his multiple goalscoring and creative moments, but I was particularly impressed with one stat: three won tackles. Fredy brought incredible work rate from the first whistle, pressuring Toronto and forcing everything the home team did into predictable areas. This was fantastic effort.
One thing I didn’t like: Fredy hit the crossbar and would likely have scored the cross that Teves finished, as both Sounders had the defense beat. Montero hat tricks are fun.
Going forward: This week, Fredy displayed two different examples of what he can bring, and he needs to keep bringing the second one.
Ethan Dobbelaere – 5 | Community – 5.7 (on 59’ for Teves)
Ethan subbed in to add some change of pace on the right side.
One thing I liked: Dobbelaere worked hard, eventually earning a shot and winning a header to his credit.
One thing I didn’t like: He only had 10 touches in 30 minutes plus stoppage, and should be impacting the match substantially more than that.
Going forward: Ethan remains a deep bench option who can come in and add some energy late.
Kelyn Rowe – 5 | Community – 5.9 (on 60’ for Medranda)
Rowe got some lengthy sub minutes in this match and was active in his time, pushing up the wing and supporting both ends of the field.
One thing I liked: A really nice switching ball in the 64th minute earned him a key pass.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 83rd minute Rowe had a terrible clearance, and he was part of a frantic late defensive shape that bent horribly, but didn’t break.
Going forward: Rowe looked like the veteran bench player he is.
Josh Atencio – 5 | Community – 5.7 (on 72’ for Chú)
Atencio continues to increase his appearance number, subbing in later in the match for Chú and finding some success pushing up the left wing and defending outside inward.
One thing I liked: His eight touches included a shot, and he had an excellent one-touch passing sequence immediately after entering.
One thing I didn’t like: Atencio was absolutely juked out of his shorts by Pozuelo in the 74th minute.
Going forward: Josh has had plenty of issues in consistently getting on the field, but he is a great option who is still young.
Reed Baker-Whiting – 5 | Community – 5.4 (on 86’ for Montero)
Reed re-joined a short Sounders squad and saw a few minutes of playing time to close out the match.
One thing I liked: An excellent run forward in the 91st minute earned him an open look, forcing a save from the Toronto keeper.
One thing I didn’t like: He was beaten by Pozuelo in the 88th minute in what was likely one of his jobs upon entering.
Going forward: RBW is young with a large upside, but he’ll need more playing time to discern whether he can translate that potential to anything more.
Silviu Petrescu – 5 | Community – 5.3
Petrescu had a tumultuous match, making some good calls but missing some others. While he didn’t miss anything big, he seemed to struggle with finding a specific style to referee the match.
One thing I liked: Immediately stopping play in the 16th for a head injury was spot on, and he otherwise played smart advantage calls multiple times.
One thing I didn’t like: He somehow gave five warnings to a Sounders player, yet Chú got a dissent card 14 minutes into the match for disagreeing with a bad call. Dissent is a proper call, but not in lieu of calling other stuff.
Going forward: If Toronto were more competitive, this match might have been harder to ref, but Petrescu still struggled more than necessary in this one.
Toronto FC MOTM
Aside from some bright moments from Jayden Nelson, Pozuelo basically was the attack for Toronto, not that his work paid much in the way of dividends. The Spaniard consistently worked the transition from defense to attack, and had one of TFC’s best chances of the match. But his toe poke in the 54th minute didn’t quite come off and was dealt with well by Cleveland to maintain Seattle’s advantage.
Next up: It feels like a long time since we beat Portland at home. Let’s change that.