Seattle had a chance to build off some road momentum by going into their biggest rival’s house and both boosting the Sounders’ playoff chances and diminishing Portland’s. Instead, the opposite happened. Seattle came out flat, and although they earned an early lead, they conceded twice and lost 2-1. Some questionable refereeing and unquestionably bad defense created two opponent goals, but the Sounders showed a lack of cohesion and lacked answers for what a mediocre team threw at them throughout. Good teams create their own luck, and the Sounders are neither good nor lucky right now. We may have deserved to lose, but I wish the games between our teams weren’t so referee flavored.
Stefan Frei – 6 | Community – 5.8
Frei had another average match. He made four saves and kept his team in the match as best he could, but he struggled in the second half to organize his defense as Seattle conceded a soft game-winner.
One thing I liked: A 14th minute save on a goal-bound free kick was solid, and a 44th minute big save kept the halftime deficit manageable.
One thing I didn’t like: It’s not fair to ask Stef to save PKs, as opponents will score them most of the time. But he rarely gets close at all, and his save percentage is dismal.
Going forward: It’s been a struggle for Frei this year, as he has often been on the wrong page with the defensive unit in front of him.
Nouhou – 7 | Community – 5.2
Nouhou played as a center back this game and again looked excellent, dominating early defensively and finding some luck later as a wide defender who pushed the team forward. His 64 touches were third on the team, and he had a key pass, a shot on goal, and four clearances.
One thing I liked: When the team was down against their biggest rival, Nouhou was one of the few players who seemed to step up his intensity. Finding success up the left wing, he earned a 74th minute corner from an overlapping run and following it up with a great 80th minute cross to Jordan Morris.
One thing I didn’t like: A silly dribble in traffic in the 44th minute was stolen and immediately turned into a Timbers shot that almost put Portland ahead at half.
Going forward: Different formation, same result.
Xavier Arreaga – 5 | Community – 4.6 (off 58’ for Ragen)
Xavier again started in the middle of the defense but had a tough time organizing the team in front of him. He was limited in his impact, getting caught out defensively and relying on last ditch defending for much of his time in the match. He had four clearances and a won tackle defensively.
One thing I liked: With Portland pressing early in the match, it was Arreaga’s head that found the critical clearance on multiple occasions.
One thing I didn’t like: Any lost possession from the back was returned via a shot moments later, but it was egregiously bad defense on the game-winning goal that saw Xavier strolling yards behind the play, not marking anyone, and watching Portland score.
Going forward: It’s not all on Arreaga, but he is struggling as the season wears on. In this match, he made a great case for Ragen to get more time.
Yeimar – 8 | Community – 6.0 (MOTM)
Yeimar was massive on defense, getting a ridiculous 11 clearances, many in last-ditch efforts to prevent a flowing Portland attack from entering the box. He also scored the lone Sounders goal, added 85 percent passing and led the team in shots.
One thing I liked: Seattle didn’t look great in the first half, but it was Yeimar who gave them an early 9th minute lead with a gorgeous back post header to score.
One thing I didn’t like: I cannot blame Yeimar for that call.
Going forward: Seattle needing to rely on double digit clearances from Yeimar is a big issue.
Kelyn Rowe – 4 | Community – 3.9 (off 69’ for Atencio)
Rowe played, I guess. His 68 minutes of soccer had 36 touches and 75 percent completion rate in an outing that offered little more than space occupancy.
One thing I liked: An 8th minute back post cross was a nice thought and he switched the ball to Alex in the 15th.
One thing I didn’t like: Rowe had zero offensive recordable actions, and a single clearance. His passing was bad, and he still doesn’t close down wing players on defense, creating massive problems for his team behind him.
Going forward: Rowe had a goal last match, which is important for a team struggling to score, but otherwise he’s been dreadful.
Danny Leyva – 6 | Community – 4.6 (off 58’ for Montero)
Leyva was asked to defend across the entire backline and against a team pushing heavy numbers forward. Unfortunately, he was unable to navigate the defensive responsibilities needed. He had only 29 touches.
One thing I liked: Danny worked hard trying to defend everywhere, showing great hustle to cover the numerous gaps as Portland strode through an empty midfield toward the Seattle defense. His control in tight areas was especially useful to help move Seattle into their few advanced areas in the first half.
One thing I didn’t like: Any time Leyva made any mistake, it felt like a near Timbers goal, with arms out defending creating the free kick in the 13th minute, and minutes later a loose pass immediately opening a counter chance.
Going forward: Leyva looked fine in this match but needs much more help; he clearly isn’t a one-man destroyer able to connect the very disjointed midfield shape.
Nico Lodeiro – 5 | Community – 4.8
Seattle asked Lodeiro to do everything, and he responded poorly. Getting 20 more touches than anyone else in the match, Nico was on the ball constantly, but failed to find luck doing anything productive with it. He completed 82 percent of his passes and had a single shot.
One thing I liked: Nico was tirelessly trying to get through a crowded midfield, attempting to connect with others and hustling around looking for chances that didn’t appear.
One thing I didn’t like: Zero key passes. Poor free kicks. The complete lack of offense from Lodeiro when the team clearly had no ideas other than “kick it to Nico” was disappointing.
Going forward: Expecting Nico Lodeiro to single-handedly drag this team to the playoffs is a flawed expectation.
Albert Rusnák – 5 | Community – 5.0 (off 82’ for Chú)
Rusnák played for 82 minutes and had 31 touches. Seattle was either unable or refused to find him in this match, and he was largely an observer, opening spaces for the attacking skills of the similarly initialed but much more effective Alex Roldan.
One thing I liked: Albert was clean on the ball when he did touch it (88 percent passing) and at least tried to use Morris going forward, finding an over the top try in the 3rd minute and being willing to look to stretch the field.
One thing I didn’t like: This is a DP player who was basically absent from the game. His foul defensively gave the set piece Portland scored the winner from.
Going forward: Did Rusnák not get the memo about what a rivalry game is?
Alex Roldan – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 5.2
Alex was almost the entire offense for Seattle, creating the best chances for himself and others, adding in a massive defensive output as well. He led the team with five tackles, four interceptions, three key passes, two shots and had the only assist. Roldan was the team: one of the few players who was up to the task of playing hard and well against a rival on the road.
One thing I liked: Everything offensive came through Alex, starting in the 9th minute with a gorgeous back post assist to Yeimar. He nearly pulled the match level with similar service to Ragen in the 85th minute, and he had multiple long distance shots that unfortunately went wide.
One thing I didn’t like: Fredy Montero had a beautiful switch in the 68th minute that Alex fumbled, one of his few errors on the evening.
Going forward: Alex showed just how much more he can impact matches in this formation, and if he’s the only one willing to do anything, get him the ball.
Jordan Morris – 5 | Community – 5.0
Morris started up front again and was asked to do a lot of setup stuff that doesn’t fit his game well. He had 31 touches, a shot, and a key pass against Portland.
One thing I liked: In the 49th minute Morris RRBH. It was a brief reminder that when Jordan gets in space, he can beat nearly everyone in the league.
One thing I didn’t like: Jordan wasn’t part of this game. Asking him to be a guy who goes up and wins headers as the only way to find him on the field is a gross misuse of his tremendous talent.
Going forward: Without space, Morris will be lost.
Raúl Ruidíaz – 5 | Community – 5.0
Raúl was healthy enough to play a full 90. He responded by touching the ball 28 times and earning a shot. If these numbers seem low, it’s because they are. Ruidíaz was active but completely cut off from his team and was a non-factor.
One thing I liked: An 8th minute turn and dribble set up Kelyn Rowe well as Raúl showed he could be used more as a playmaker.
One thing I didn’t like: There wasn’t much space for Seattle in the attack. Morris and Raúl made redundant runs with neither having success at kicking the ball toward the Portland goal.
Going forward: Seattle must find a way to get the ball to Raúl more, even if it’s in setup and not just off-ball runs.
Fredy Montero – 5 | Community – 4.4 (on 58’ for Leyva)
Fredy joined the match to try to add some creativity and control to the attacking midfield and to set up the forwards. He worked hard to do just that.
One thing I liked: Montero only had 15 touches but clearly understood it was a rivalry game, popping up all over the field with hustle, adding a key pass, and connecting the front to back much better than before he subbed in.
One thing I didn’t like: For all his effort, Fredy didn’t release anyone, and with two forwards in front of him, was left combining behind the front line.
Going forward: Fredy under two forwards was interesting, but results were murky.
Jackson Ragen – 6 | Community – 5.1 (on 58’ for Arreaga)
Ragen replaced Arreaga and was an upgrade in the back, finding clean passing to teammates. His 89 percent passing included a lot of attacking, forward looks that jump-started a struggling Seattle offense.
One thing I liked: His defense in the 63rd minute was excellent, and Jackson showed no fear playing a team he was recently red carded off the field playing against.
One thing I didn’t like: A beautiful Roldan cross was met just as beautifully by Jackson in the 85th. It’s just a shame his header bounced off the crossbar and out, instead of tying the match and perhaps saving Seattle’s season.
Going forward: Ragen has looked good in a back three, and he’s likely to find more time after this outing.
Josh Atencio – 6 | Community – 4.8 (on 69’ for Rowe)
Atencio entered for Rowe and was an immediate upgrade to the midfield, spraying passes around and using his body to strongly defend in front of the center backs.
One thing I liked: In the 73rd minute we saw the patented calm dribble from Josh, confronted with pressure and casually walking the ball out. His presence gave Seattle an advantage centrally.
One thing I didn’t like: A 79th minute bad pass and an 88th minute cross were two moments where he needed to be better for a struggling team.
Going forward: This was a good outing for Atencio, who is playing himself into more time.
Léo Chú – 4 | Community – 3.7 (on 82’ for Rusnák)
Chú came in for the ineffective Rusnák and was somehow even more ineffective.
One thing I liked: Chú won a header, a rarity from the Brazilian.
One thing I didn’t like: Léo brought nothing on offense, getting few chances to impact the match. When he did get the ball he turned it over almost immediately, ending with 50 percent passing and just eight touches.
Going forward: The Chú experiment is losing whatever steam it may have had.
Ismail Elfath – 3 | Community – 2.7
Seeing Elfath as the center in a rivalry game is enough to make your heart sink. You just know he’s going to somehow make the match about him, and that’s exactly what he did. He is one of those guys who fills up my notes with moments, as opposed to the referee ideal where the game is about the players on the field.
One thing I liked: The early yellow card for Sebastián Blanco for dissent was warranted; it’s the kind of card Elfath loves to give, to assert his authority or whatever. His use of delayed yellow cards after advantage was done well.
One thing I didn’t like: It’s not a PK, and the entire ref team got it wrong. Since he was looking right at it, I blame Elfath for inserting himself into the narrative and being unable to ignore a guy throwing himself at the ground in the box without contact. If he doesn’t call that, it’s unlikely VAR calls him over. If that call doesn’t get made, maybe Seattle makes it to half. Maybe adjustments would have been made, who knows.
Going forward: Seattle has been the recipient of multiple poor calls, and it’s cost them a lot of points. A better team can persevere, but right now we aren’t that team.
Portland Timbers MOTM
As usual, Blanco had his fingerprints all over this rivalry meeting. He helped send wave after wave towards a disoriented Sounders defense, creating a chance in the 34th, before providing the game-winning tap in early in the second half.
Next up: After that rivalry fiasco, a midweek game on short rest all the way across the country where it’s hot and humid? I have no idea what to expect.