Seattle, desperately needing a home field win, failed to get that, instead falling 2-1 to visiting RSL in a game they appeared to dominate. Seventy percent possession, 16 shots, and a 7-0 advantage in corner kicks. Instead of turning those great stats into a statement win, earning momentum to finish out the year strong, a combination of a defense that inexplicably falls asleep at inopportune times and an offense that never wakes up created another depressing loss as the Sounders struggle to stay relevant in the playoff hunt.
Stefan Frei – 6 | Community – 5.9
Frei made two saves on four shots on goal. Clearly frustrated after the first goal, he came out in the 47th to clear way outside his box on a ball that he had no reason to attack, but hey, I get it.
One thing I liked: A nice 75th minute save prevented the game from getting out of hand.
One thing I didn’t like: For whatever reason, opposing teams are making both their high quality and low percentage shots against Seattle this year and this game was no different. In this match, RSL got two huge chances inside the six-yard box and finished both.
Going forward: A goalie is ultimately the product of his defense and opportunity. Stefan is getting plenty of opportunity via his randomly porous defense.
Nouhou – 7 | Community – 4.9
Nouhou was strong against RSL, defending well when tasked to do so and getting forward at times to support the attack. He ended up with 91 percent passing including two shots and two key passes.
One thing I liked: Nouhou showed intense effort for the entire match and was especially effective late from a more central area, showcasing 1-v-1 defense to prevent any late RSL goals and hustling to give Seattle as many chances to procure a positive result as possible.
One thing I didn’t like: The attacking part of his game wasn’t there, and it’s a shame he was presented with a chance for an open cross in the 21st and a volley in the 40th, both moments that could have changed the entire match, but they went wanting.
Going forward: The left back had as many key passes as both wide midfielders and the right back combined.
Xavier Arreaga – 6 | Community – 5.7
Xavier was a steady defender on a team that made a few big errors which directly led to goals against. His 71 touches were converted to a 91 percent clip, and he even added a key pass.
One thing I liked: Strong defense in the start of the second half helped keep Seattle in the match, and Arreaga smoothly transitioned forward to support the attack as they threw numbers forward later.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 32nd minute, Arreaga overcommitted defensively after jogging back to help defend against a breakout counterattack from Sergio Córdova. It was a scrambling play, but had he hustled to recover, broke down earlier and made Córdova more predictable, there’s a good chance RSL wouldn’t have taken the lead there.
Going forward: The defensive central pairing has limited attacks down the middle that were a problem, but now they’re getting caught out of position in other ways.
Yeimar - 6 | Community – 5.5 (off 77’ for Medranda)
Yeimar had similar stats to Arreaga, getting 75 touches and completing 86 percent of his passes. He wasn’t particularly busy on defense, with a single recorded tackle and interception.
One thing I liked: For the most part, Seattle’s defense held RSL to half chances and limited them to only eight shots.
One thing I didn’t like: Caught way up field on goal one, goal two happened behind him and while it wasn’t his man who scored, he looked lost defending a quick ball to the back post.
Going forward: Seattle has consistently missed this defensive assignment and while it’s by design to attack the ball and every team defends this way, it is getting old seeing other teams capitalize in these spaces when we can’t.
Alex Roldan – 4 | Community – 4.6 (off 85’ for Chú)
Alex has been largely absent from the recent Sounders matches, failing to show up on either side of the ball. Against RSL, he was a big part of both goals against, and again couldn’t bring offensive support.
One thing I liked: A 30th minute overlap and clever interchange led to a Seattle corner kick.
One thing I didn’t like: Alex touched the ball the second-most times in the match and didn’t earn a single key pass. His defense was a complete mess on goal number one: he was beaten in behind as the last man back explicitly to prevent that on a set piece. The second goal was a miscommunication between he and his brother, with neither marking the back post which allowed an RSL game-winning goal.
Going forward: Alex will need to put this poor performance behind him.
Danny Leyva – 7 (MOTM) | Community – 6.4 (off 65’ for Bruin)
Although he subbed out immediately after the Sounders conceded their second, Leyva was a huge bright spot in this match, controlling the midfield defensively, opening up teammates into space and being the fulcrum that much of the Seattle possession pivoted off of. He led the team with three interceptions and two tackles, added a shot and a key pass, and controlled the match through strong build-up play.
One thing I liked: Danny was full of energy, starting with an early pressure high and consistently spraying passes around and creating for others. His over-the-top passes were excellent, especially a delicate chip in the 49th that put Nouhou free into the box.
One thing I didn’t like: A bad pass turnover early slowed Leyva’s attacking verve a bit, and he tired early in the second half, prompting a switch.
Going forward: I’m not sure whether the game plan was for Leyva to do everything, but that appeared to be when Seattle played the best.
Albert Rusnák – 7 | Community – 6.6 (MOTM)
Rusnák played his former team and did well, scoring the only Sounders goal and linking with teammates. His combination with Leyva looked fluid and Seattle created a lot of half-chances throughout. Albert’s 94 touches included a key pass, but the Sounders struggled to create big chances.
One thing I liked: In the 62nd minute it looked like the Sounders had broken through and were on to a deserved comeback victory. The goal came off some nice interplay with a teammate that found Rusnák with an open near-post shot. He took it, not scared to shoot from outside the box, and briefly tied the match.
One thing I didn’t like: A 53rd minute whiff on an open shot and earlier struggles in the box were indicative of an entire team that failed to shoot (or connect) when they had the opportunity.
Going forward: Leyva and Rusnák did their job well, contributing to most of the best Seattle chances, likely earning another look as the offense gets sorted out.
Jordan Morris – 5 | Community – 5.4
Morris again started on the left but had almost no success against the RSL defense. He managed 24 touches but only a single key pass and two wayward shots. Often crowding the middle, Jordan was asked to win many headers from a cross-heavy offensive scheme.
One thing I liked: In the 55th minute, Jordan had a beautiful diagonal run into the box and crossed it back for one of several half chances Seattle was unable to capitalize on.
One thing I didn’t like: Morris was lost for much of this game, as Seattle forlornly sent in hopeful crosses for him to miss or head over.
Going forward: Jordan struggles when he can’t find space to work.
Nico Lodeiro – 5 | Community – 5.5
Nico worked hard in this match but fell into the trap of crossing a lot, and was unable to release teammates into attacking positions with any regularity. As usual, he led the team with an enormous 128 touches and added three key passes and a shot.
One thing I liked: His 88 percent passing was great in possession as Seattle poked for holes in a compact defense, and it was a simple stepover back heel that created enough space for Rusnák to score the lone Seattle goal.
One thing I didn’t like: Lodeiro attempted thirteen crosses and was only successful on three, relying too much on sending in hopeful balls that made the RSL center backs look like world beaters.
Going forward: Nico needs more support, and when he is leaned on too heavily, the offense gets one-dimensional.
Cristian Roldan – 5 | Community – 4.9 (off 77’ for Rowe)
Roldan moved back to the wing and struggled to impact the match outside of a few moments, instead combining infrequently into space and unable to create as he has earlier this season. He completed one of his six crosses for his only key pass, falling into the “cross and pray” offensive strategy that failed as miserably for him as for everyone else.
One thing I liked: Cristian fought hard in the 12th minute, earning what seemed to be an opening goal for Seattle. Later, he had a great run and cross in the 44th minute to earn a corner.
One thing I didn’t like: Roldan turned off defensively immediately after the Seattle goal, failing to mark the backside runner and not passing his defensive assignment off to his brother. Both combined to watch Andrew Brody score the game-winner right in front of them.
Going forward: Roldan had a chance to revisit his success at winger without any such success. He may be a defensive mid while the lineups juggle yet again.
Raúl Ruidíaz – 5 | Community – 6.2 (off 65’ for Montero)
This was a rough outing from Raúl, who looked to have scored early and was active but looked overmatched when asked to win dozens of headers against guys literally a foot taller than him all match. He had 26 touches and two shots.
One thing I liked: Raúl did his job, scoring a goal in the 12th minute that showcased his quick trigger and goal direct style. In a happier timeline, it would have counted, and Seattle would have walked to a comfortable win.
One thing I didn’t like: After the goal was taken away, Raúl seemed to fade from the match. He only had one other shot and a dismal 47 percent passing rate, continually missing teammates and not able to combine or create consistently.
Going forward: Raúl doesn’t need an entire game plan to revolve around him, but playing to at least one of his strengths should help his output.
Will Bruin – 4 | Community – 4.3 (on 65’ for Ruidíaz)
Will played for a half hour. He had 14 touches.
One thing I liked: Bruin got a shot in his time on the field, a header off a 76th minute corner.
One thing I didn’t like: Will didn’t make an impact at all.
Going forward: Unfortunately, Bruin should no longer be expected to do more than this.
Fredy Montero – 5 | Community – 4.6 (on 65’ for Leyva)
Fredy came in as another offensive option with plenty of game time to have an impact and while he worked hard, he failed to score. He had 18 touches and two shots with a key pass.
One thing I liked: Montero did a good job finding pockets, nearly scoring a back post shot with a toe on a shot that would have tied it late. If he’d dragged his foot in the 89th minute, he might have earned a PK.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 87th minute, Nico Lodeiro dialed up a perfect cross to an unmarked Montero from just outside the 6-yard box. Fredy MUST put that on goal and should score most of the time. Instead, he missed over.
Going forward: Fredy, unlike Bruin, is at least getting chances with his movement and instincts, but his end result is the same as Will — not scoring.
Jimmy Medranda – 5 | Community – 5.1 (on 77’ for Yeimar)
Jimmy entered on the left side, pushing Morris up somewhere to jump forlornly at crosses. Medranda had an active 20 touches, contributing a lot of half chances.
One thing I liked: A 91st minute shot was unfortunately blocked and a 95th minute first-time cross was beautiful, begging for a back post touch to tie the match.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 79th minute, Jimmy had a great run forward that he fumbled out of bounds for an RSL goal kick.
Going forward: Medranda showed a lot of action, which was frankly better than many others, and might earn him more time.
Kelyn Rowe – 5 | Community – 5.0 (on 77’ for Cristian Roldan)
A rare sub for Cristian meant 20 minutes of Rowe on the field, and he was active across the middle without much impact, but not for a lack of quality runs.
One thing I liked: Rowe made smart, vertical runs from deep midfield to the center of the box and these runs made the RSL defense uneasy.
One thing I didn’t like: Eighteen ineffective touches and a single key pass weren’t enough impact.
Going forward: Rowe is willing and able to play everywhere on the field, but isn’t translating that ability into tangible stats.
Léo Chú – 5 | Community – 4.4 (on 85’ for Alex Roldan)
Léo Chú came in to be yet another offensive person in a crowded attack as RSL firmly parked the bus.
One thing I liked: Chú completed all his pass attempts.
One thing I didn’t like: He had only four touches, being completely unable to integrate whatsoever into an offense that was speculative crosses by the time he arrived.
Going forward: Strike this one from the list of formations Léo will want to play in the future.
Timothy Ford – 6 | Community – 4.7
Ford was fine in this match.
One thing I liked: As much as I hated the result, the VAR was correct to discount the first Sounders goal, and the match was refereed without making the ref the story (outside of absolutely trucking that RSL dude).
One thing I didn’t like: My biggest complaint was that a high kick that nearly took Raúl’s face off in the 58th minute was not given as a foul (and subsequent PK), yet similar high boots were penalized against Cristian.
Going forward: It’s not Ford’s or Nouhou’s fault the Sounders didn’t win.
Real Salt Lake MOTM
The big Venezuelan showed a range of skill as he put RSL into the lead. First, he made a lung-busting run from well inside his own half to catch out the Sounders’ back line. Once he had corralled the through ball, he was patient, attempting an outside-of-the-boot flick, then taking a moment to sit Arreaga down, then finishing cooly past several scrambling Sounders.
Next up: I’m not one to talk about “must win” games in a league where three wins in a row can put you in first place, but uhh, I would love to see that talk go away after a victory this week.