Seattle went into California needing a win against a resurgent Galaxy team and proceeded to dominate the first half. Since this is the 2022 season, that means the Sounders went into half down 2-0 on a defensive breakdown and a mis-hit cross that somehow scored. Facing this deficit and staring down a potential end-of-season/end-of-hope sort of loss, Seattle charged back in the second half with similar play but better results. The away team scored three in a row to take a lead and looked to have a season-defining win in the books before a late heartbreaking VAR call changed the result, leaving everyone dissatisfied.
Stefan Frei – 5 | Community – 5.3
Frei seemed to be very busy but was only credited with a single save. His distribution was poor, connecting infrequently with Seattle players and struggling to find teammates to help break a delayed press. Stefan had a nice punch out after being victimized by a cross near halftime, but needed luck and defensive help to prevent LA from scoring multiple other big chances.
One thing I liked: An 88th minute save looked to have sealed a fantastic comeback victory on the road for Seattle.
One thing I didn’t like: Although it’s a fluke goal from a schross, the second LA goal saw Frei step out, then back, and ultimately get chipped from a nearly impossible angle, giving a massive lift to an outplayed LA side right before halftime.
Going forward: We are overdue for a Frei masterclass that results in a much-needed shutout.
Nouhou – 6 | Community – 6.4
Nouhou moved inside as part of a three center back formation and responded with some strong defending and sporadic offensive support. He completed over 90 percent of his passes and led the team with six clearances and nine recoveries.
One thing I liked: Nouhou was active all over the field, making his impact felt defensively 1-v-1 in the 34th minute, passing beautifully forward to Raúl in the 29th, getting an essential touch in the area on the second Sounders goal sequence, and saving a goal off the line in the 75th minute.
One thing I didn’t like: Not an expert offensive player, Nouhou missed a 7th minute over the top diagonal ball, finding only a Galaxy player in a loss of possession that came back as an opponent attack.
Going forward: Seattle’s offense improved with the three in the back in the second half, but the defense still gave up two legitimate goals in the end.
Xavier Arreaga – 6 | Community – 5.6
Xavier slotted to the center of the defense and experienced some growing pains adjusting to the spaces around him. Seattle gave up three goals, and could have given up a few others, but generally controlled the play and looked much improved. Xavi had 90 percent passing and four clearances.
One thing I liked: Arreaga had a great offensive play in conjunction with his defensive duties, a 40th minute splitting dribble with his head up and a pass to find Jordan Morris forward. This was a fantastic pass.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 10th minute Arreaga dropped back into a line with his center backs, leaving Javier Hernandez unmarked at the penalty spot. LA converted.
Going forward: The gaps between the center backs and the defensive midfielders and wingbacks ahead of them were the difference in this match and will need to be fixed.
Yeimar – 6 | Community – 5.9
Yeimar touched the ball 63 times and was clean distributing to teammates (88 percent). He contributed a shot, a key pass, two interceptions, and a clearance. He was tasked with defending a wide swath of space behind a very aggressively positioned Alex Roldan and did well to slide out and support the gaps created.
One thing I liked: In the 73rd minute it looked like Seattle had come all the way back, with Yeimar out-jumping and dominating his opponent, winning a thundering header from a recycled Sounders corner kick and forcing a save that only made it about a foot out of the goal for Morris to finish off.
One thing I didn’t like: Yeimar took a while to get adjusted to the new passing lanes in a back three and he had several early poor passes looking to switch the field or force the ball through a packed midfield.
Going forward: This formation may have only changed the location of Seattle’s defensive holes, not the frequency of their occurrence.
Kelyn Rowe – 6 | Community – 6.2 (off 78’ for Medranda)
Rowe had an incredibly tumultuous game, being part of both the best and worst of Seattle’s success. His 54 touches came from a variety of offensive positions, and he was directly dangerous on goal with two shots and two key passes, scoring a massive first goal to spark the comeback.
One thing I liked: After a brilliant turn and pass from Raúl, it was Rowe who showed up on the back door and casually finished clean in the 53rd minute to jump start the Sounders’ comeback. This was the kind of opportunity which multiple other Sounders haven’t finished this season.
One thing I didn’t like: Although he scored the goal and was directly goal-dangerous himself, Rowe struggled to complete anything towards goal, with plenty of bad passes and poor defense tainting an otherwise strong outing. His inability to find teammates led to a 73 percent passing rate and that, combined with zero notable defensive contributions, strained the defenders behind him. Multiple LA goals came from his failure to step defensively to his mark on the wing.
Going forward: This was the epitome of an offense for defense trade-off and there was much to like (and dislike) from what Rowe did. Seattle consistently creates the kind of opportunities he smashed home, and he likely starts if he continues doing that.
Danny Leyva – 6 | Community – 6.8
Again, Seattle asked Leyva to be the glue holding together the Seattle midfield and he had defensive presence, connected with teammates, and distributed both short and aggressively. His 92 percent passing came from the second-most Sounder touches, and he kept possession well. He had four tackles and did a good job sweeping in front of the central defense.
One thing I liked: Danny combined solid defensive positioning with some aggressive vertical passing, consistently looking over the defense to spring a forward. A 26th minute great cross put Seattle on the front foot, and he paired that with a 67th minute lock down defensive play, shutting down LA’s new DP midfielder.
One thing I didn’t like: Leyva had the right idea to dribble through the defense in the 39th minute but then forced it too much, taking the ball directly into traffic and losing the ball. He could take a page from Rusnák’s book and learn to dribble to create space but distribute to a teammate quickly thereafter.
Going forward: Leyva has thrust himself into the conversation to be an automatic starter, offering a defensive grit and possession game that currently fits underneath an attacking band of superstars. He will need to close some gaps with the new formation.
Nico Lodeiro – 7 | Community – 6.6 (off 83’ for Atencio)
Nico did a little bit of everything, controlling the play as usual but also showing hustle on both sides of the ball, creating for others, and showing up in the stat sheet with an assist. His 79 touches led the Sounders and he paired that with 90 percent passing.
One thing I liked: Three key passes from Nico included a brilliant assist for the game-tying goal in the 61st minute. He also had a similar assist negated in the 12th minute after Morris was deemed a few inches offside. This was part of total effort, as Nico hustled back to defend centrally on several occasions.
One thing I didn’t like: This offense created around 15 set pieces and Seattle remains a team that struggles to take advantage. Often the service is poor, and the movement isn’t dangerous enough, with Lodeiro shouldering much of the criticism for erratic dead-ball service.
Going forward: Nico wasn’t directly goal-dangerous and doesn’t have to be, as long as he excels in the facilitator role that suits him well.
Albert Rusnák – 7 | Community – 7.1
Rusnák moved forward in the formation and replied with a brilliant offensive performance, creating for himself and others, drifting into spaces between the LA defense, and pestering the goal all match. Albert hit the post, the crossbar, had three key passes, and continually pushed Seattle into the offensive third with urgency and direction.
One thing I liked: It was Rusnák who dropped a bit deeper and found a beautiful over-the-top ball for Morris in the 73rd minute. This play showed an ability to find Jordan in the gaps for long balls that was missing with Cristian out injured. It also earned Seattle a corner kick, and Morris ended up scoring off that corner.
One thing I didn’t like: Early on, Bert was a turnover machine, losing the ball multiple times in the first five minutes, as it took a while to understand his position in the new formation and learn the passing lanes.
Going forward: Albert Rusnák appears to be able to play well almost anywhere, and the flavor of last weekend was attacking midfielder.
Alex Roldan – 6 | Community – 5.7
Alex was a completely different player on the wing, charging into the offense and adding an overlapping component that had been missing from his play for the last few months. He had three key passes on 69 touches, continually dialing up crosses and entry passes for teammates.
One thing I liked: The difference was obvious early, with Roldan attempting an early long diagonal cross to Morris in the first minute of play, showing a willingness to stretch the field and look cross-pitch early instead of filtering all his play into the corner.
One thing I didn’t like: Although he had four tackles, Roldan left huge gaps behind him defensively and LA directly benefited, scoring their first goal by dribbling around him and penetrating immediately into the space he had vacated.
Going forward: Alex had a great bounce-back performance and if he can balance his defensive role with the offensive requirements, can be a difference maker for the rest of the season.
Jordan Morris – 7 | Community – 6.9 (off 86’ for Bruin)
Morris moved up a line next to Ruidíaz, forming one of the most dynamic pairs of attackers in the league. Jordan did a great job of combining his diagonal speed runs with plenty of holdup play, interchanging spaces with Ruidíaz well and finding areas to attack. He had three shots, scored two goals (one of which the refs allowed) and did it all on only 20 touches.
One thing I liked: In the 16th minute Morris drifted off the back shoulder of the defense and scored a tremendous header from a perfect Lodeiro cross. Although this was called back, it permanently changed how the defense dealt with Jordan, which opened up spaces for others underneath.
One thing I didn’t like: Only 20 touches is too few for a player of his ability. A whiffed 21st minute shot and 82nd minute loose touch wasted two of those.
Going forward: Jordan found space and a partnership with Raúl that looks capable of even more.
Raúl Ruidíaz – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 7.6 (MOTM) (off 83’ for Ragen)
Ruidíaz roared back to relevancy in this match, pouncing upon the space created by strike partner Morris and the distribution of teammates behind him to have a massive 44 touches. He converted this into six shots, added two key passes, and ended with a goal and an assist on the evening.
One thing I liked: Raúl’s assist was a nifty turn and dash into the area that looked much easier than it was. He took his first touch away from his body momentum, creating space from a much bigger defender before striding into the box and passing clean behind a smart Morris near-post run to perfectly set up Rowe and start the Seattle comeback.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 77th minute with Seattle riding huge momentum and carrying a lead, Raúl charged into the offensive third on a breakaway facing three defenders but had an onrushing Morris in support. Ruidíaz chose to pass to Jordan instead of further attacking the goal, perhaps due to some limping he had done immediately prior.
Going forward: Raúl found space, and with that space found goals for himself and others.
Jimmy Medranda – 4 | Community – 5.1 (on 78’ for Rowe)
Jimmy entered to play on the wing, offering fresh legs for Rowe who was tiring. Medranda had seven touches.
One thing I liked: He completed 100 percent of his passes.
One thing I didn’t like: Jimmy was beaten badly in the 84th and 96th minutes, the second ending in a yellow card. He completely abandoned form for aggression and was part of a porous late defensive effort.
Going forward: Medranda had a lot of action, but it was mostly in the wrong direction when Seattle needed a calm defensive presence to run out the clock.
Jackson Ragen – 5 | Community – 5.3 (on 83’ for Ruidíaz)
Ragen came in to add another defender. He had two touches total.
One thing I liked: Jackson had a nice 88th minute defensive play.
One thing I didn’t like: Ragen entered but had zero impact on the match, failing to do more than take up space.
Going forward: Adding a lot of defenders just confused Seattle’s players, who played scared late and eventually conceded.
Josh Atencio – 5 | Community – 5.2 (on 83’ for Lodeiro)
Atencio entered for Nico and had three touches.
One thing I liked: Active defensively, Josh had nice plays in the 87th and 97th minutes.
One thing I didn’t like: With only three touches, there wasn’t much impact to be had.
Going forward: Adding a lot of defenders just confused Seattle’s players, who played scared late and eventually conceded.
Will Bruin – 5 | Community – 4.6 (on 86’ for Morris)
Will came in to give Morris an early break and had a single touch.
One thing I liked: In the 89th minute Will won a valuable free kick, allowing a beleaguered Seattle defense a small respite.
One thing I didn’t like: Seattle was unable to get the ball to Bruin, who was a non-factor.
Going forward: Bruin had little to work with here.
Victor Rivas – 4 | Community – 4.1
Rivas had a solid first 90 minutes of the match. His calls mostly made sense, he gave cards when they were warranted, and the game went smoothly.
One thing I liked: The first VAR call on Morris was unfortunately correct. However, had the AR not called it, it was unlikely to have been overturned. The game was adjudicated fairly, with this referee ignoring whining and dives from certain players.
One thing I didn’t like: It’s not just that something similar happened this weekend in the Vancouver and Portland matches, which weren’t called hand balls. The inconsistency is frustrating, but more importantly, the Galaxy PK call was not “clear and obvious.” Arreaga was not in an unnatural position, wasn’t trying to gain an advantage, and didn’t gain advantage from a deflection going at his own goal with three teammates behind him. He had no time to react and made zero play that looks like a PK. To not only flag it but overrule the call on the field, in a game-defining moment, is more than harsh, it’s punitive.
Going forward: I understand you make your own luck, but it sure feels like we have gotten the raw end of numerous game-changing calls, which are more game-changing this year because we are so close to average, and these calls have a higher impact.
LA Galaxy MOTM
Víctor Vázquez, president of the Greg Vanney Friends Club, was a part of everything good for LA in the first half. It was his calmness on the ball and clever switch of play that led to LA’s opener. And whether he meant it or not, it was his beauty of a schross that put the Galaxy up 2-0 going into halftime.
Next up: Just beat that team. Please.