The Sounders welcomed Austin FC into Lumen Field by dominating them in all facets of the match, pushing high and attacking strong, scoring multiple thrilling goals, and limiting the away team to a few half-chances. A much-needed shutout against a highly accomplished team was achieved from strong full-field defense and a calm, cohesive defensive group who held possession well. The offense roared to life in spectacular flowing moments, as the team found ways to highlight both individual and team efforts. The 3-0 scoreline keeps the playoffs in the picture, and Seattle has suddenly found a lineup that is clicking on both offense and defense.
Stefan Frei – 7 | Community – 6.9
Frei and a compact defensive unit earned a deserved shutout against what had been the highest scoring Western Conference team coming into the match. This was a comprehensive defensive outing, with Seattle allowing but a single shot on goal all match. Stefan was credited with a save on a comfortable shot right at him.
One thing I liked: The entire defensive group played cohesively and covered smartly for each other all match. Much of the confidence came from the very back, as Seattle consistently passed back to Frei who was clean and tidy with his distribution, making smart decisions and not taking undue risks with the ball.
One thing I didn’t like: With the defense playing excellently and some coverage, Frei inexplicably came way outside of his box to clear in the 17th minute, a puzzling choice that added unnecessary risk to a game under control.
Going forward: The best path to the playoffs is for Seattle to get about four shutouts in a row. This match showed the ability to do so, but there must be continued improvement on set piece defense.
Nouhou – 6 | Community – 6.9
Nouhou did his job and did it well, shutting down the width for Austin while also dropping centrally to support as needed. He had four clearances, two interceptions, and two tackles in a defense-first outing wherein he facilitated others more than creating for himself.
One thing I liked: Especially in the first half, Nouhou aggressively closed out the width, charging out to limit crosses and force Austin to recycle their possession. This effort to defend to the width prevented much of the wing play that had been successful for them this season.
One thing I didn’t like: The offensive impact was minimal, with an 87th minute cross going out for a throw-in on the opposite side of the field and generally passive movement forward. Making mistakes on aggressive forward play did not harm the defensive shape.
Going forward: Fresh off a starring offensive role, Nouhou reminded us that he is a defensive player and defense is what he did, showing skill on the width that freed up teammates to attack.
Xavier Arreaga – 6 | Community – 7.0
Arreaga again led the team centrally but had few touches, with only 55 on the evening. He made good use of his time on the ball, however, making smart decisions and distributing clean to teammates to the tune of 90 percent passing. Defensively, he had a quiet night, content to keep strong positioning and deter any aerial threats.
One thing I liked: His positional defense and control throughout this match was excellent; he continually found a controlled outlet pass and moved the ball quickly but with purpose through to the midfield.
One thing I didn’t like: Seattle had a bit of trouble with long throw-ins, and a few errant clearances gave Austin repeated set pieces from the sideline.
Going forward: This defense took what it was given and stayed compact and organized — a great sign moving forward.
Yeimar – 8 | Community – 7.6 (off 88’ for Ragen)
Yeimar was big in this match, repeatedly being tested by Austin and repeatedly coming up the victor in 1-v-1 battles. He had many more touches than usual (80) and did relatively well distributing the ball. Defensively, he was a monster, with eight clearances, four interceptions, and two tackles won.
One thing I liked: Yeimar repeatedly tried and completed more aggressive passing than usual, which opened up the match with some excellent through balls and over the top attempts.
One thing I didn’t like: Austin clearly tried to force the ball to Yeimar to clear instead of Arreaga or others, and this led to an awful 36th minute pass that was stolen and turned into a free kick that created Austin’s best chance of the evening.
Going forward: Yeimar had some struggles but has been excellent in the last few games and looks primed to be the dominant DPOY he is.
Alex Roldan – 6 | Community – 7.0
Roldan again started at the wide fullback position and played another strong defensive match, part of a shutout effort. He led Seattle with four tackles and added six clearances and an interception, combining to both stop most pushes down his wing and to open space for Jordan Morris to work at running behind the opponent.
One thing I liked: The passing from Alex to Jordan keeps improving, and it was highlighted by a beautiful through ball perfectly weighted from Roldan to Morris in the 34th minute, ending in a goal. Alex is finding good angles to put his wing partner in offensively advantageous positions, but also worked hard to combine with a give-and-go to get into the position to make that line-breaking pass.
One thing I didn’t like: Alex had a few times where his defense wasn’t great but was protected by a cohesive unit around him. He was badly beaten on the back post in the 84th minute, and Seattle was lucky Austin didn’t do more with it.
Going forward: Roldan being able to open Morris creates huge space for others to work, and their partnership should only get better.
Danny Leyva – 7 | Community – 7.0
Leyva grew into his new leadership role in the middle of the field, combining again with Josh Atencio next to him for an excellent shift dominated by smart angles, hard tackles, and clean distribution. Seventy-seven touches and 89 percent passing added to three tackles is a stat line any midfielder would be proud of.
One thing I liked: Danny is quickly becoming a game manager from the defensive midfield position, understanding tempo and making improved decisions on when to push fast, when to drop the ball, and when to draw a foul and take a breather. His touch in the 14th minute and first-timer to Morris in the 59th were some wow moments showing his ability to capitalize on these quick decisions.
One thing I didn’t like: There were a few times when Leyva played more negatively than the game pace dictated, and he missed several critical combination passes that could have elevated his game immensely.
Going forward: This is Leyva’s midfield to run, and he keeps improving.
Joshua Atencio – 7 | Community – 7.0 (off 76’ for Rowe)
Atencio got another start and again looked excellent pairing with Levya in the defensive midfield position. Together they made smart decisions, combined to control the pace, defended well, and pushed the region of control more vertically up the field. His 53 touches returned a sparkling 90 percent completion rate as Seattle used the midfield as a strength.
One thing I liked: Josh has excellent positioning and runs well off others. This is a great fit for Seattle, whose midfielders are apt to run all over the field. Atencio has done very well covering and creating space for the success of the players in front of him.
One thing I didn’t like: Getting an early yellow due to some aggressive play forced Atencio to play more carefully, and the defensive physicality in the center suffered a little.
Going forward: This Leyvatencio pairing is greater than the sum of its parts, with each playing off the other with remarkable precision.
Albert Rusnák – 7 | Community – 7.3 (off 88’ for Chú)
Rusnák was again a bit of an unsung hero who did some of everything against Austin without directly showing up on the scoreboard. He had 61 touches and was credited with a shot and a key pass, but it was often the pass before the pass which came off Rusnák’s foot that led to strong Sounders possession.
One thing I liked: Constantly unleashed into the midfield by Nouhou and the defense, Albert overloaded the middle and then moved the ball quickly from the left to the right as Seattle repeatedly attacked the backside before the defense could adjust. These little things added up, ending in a chance or a free kick earned by Rusnák, like the one in the 68th that turned into a third Seattle goal.
One thing I didn’t like: Albert had a few rough passes centrally that looked worse because of where they were on the field, and an 86th minute open shot wasn’t as close as hoped.
Going forward: Rusnák gets credit for opening up the offense with his indirect movement and combination in the middle to free up teammates.
Nico Lodeiro – 7 | Community – 7.4
Lodeiro has been unlocked in the last few matches, turning up all over the field to combine with multiple teammates on goals. Against Austin, Nico was everywhere, popping up to assist with a nifty 12th minute pass or consistently put others into advanced areas. He had 96 touches and 86 percent completion.
One thing I liked: Even playing a free role, Nico covered the passing lanes extremely well from the middle, repeatedly shielding the defensive midfielders from pressure as his movement forced Austin back or wide time and time again.
One thing I didn’t like: For all his success, Nico squandered a few golden chances, like a 55th minute late pass that ended up offside, or a few missed crosses with big creation opportunities. In a game where Seattle only had five shots, these were big mistakes.
Going forward: Playing a free role with support both forward and back, Nico suddenly looks like the playmaker we know him to be.
Jordan Morris – 8 | Community – 7.8 (off 76’ for Montero)
Morris had 37 touches and was credited with only a single key pass, yet he was a game-breaking presence that consistently ripped the Austin defensive back line out of shape. His movement and touch gave the visitors fits, as they tried to press high in the attack yet had to drop out of respect for his speed. Jordan had a single shot.
One thing I liked: After getting the secondary assist on the first goal by beating his man to the end line, Morris upgraded to a primary assist on goal two, a perfect illustration of how he has matured. Making a wide move before running past a defender onto a through ball, Morris perfectly used his body to keep the defender on his back and force a foul with any contact, before looking up and unselfishly finding a wide open Raúl Ruidíaz to double the lead.
One thing I didn’t like: Jordan was only credited with a single defensive action, which left Alex and crew behind him with a lot of work to do. It was fine this time, but he may need to support his wide defensive areas more in the future.
Going forward: George Morris running rampant is a thing we like.
Raúl Ruidíaz – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 8.5 (MOTM) (off 90’ for Teves)
Raúl is back from injury and heating up, finding the spaces he likes to operate in and finding the ball there as well. This is a deadly combination, from which two goals were produced. His 31 touches weren’t just in front of goal though, as Ruidíaz dropped into the middle to support with holdup or combination play, bringing Seattle forward into the attack.
One thing I liked: Three shots, all on goal, and clean finishing in the 12th and 34th minutes to earn a brace. These were striker’s goals, earned by movement and vision and realized through great execution.
One thing I didn’t like: Raúl did miss a 47th minute wide open pass across that looked earmarked for another big Sounders chance.
Going forward: That Raúl magic of popping up in the best spot and doing the thing is back.
Kelyn Rowe – 5 | Community – 5.9 (on 76’ for Atencio)
Rowe came in with a three-goal lead and got eight touches as Seattle shut it down and ran out the last 15 minutes of the match relatively cleanly.
One thing I liked: Seattle earned a shutout, and Rowe’s willingness to defend everywhere helped some. He showed off a fancy dribble at least once in the center.
One thing I didn’t like: Eight touches wasn’t a huge deal, but a miserable 57 percent passing rate when tasked to come in and run out the clock was too many turnovers.
Going forward: Rowe has become a dependable late sub to eat minutes in the middle and offer some veteran presence.
Fredy Montero – 5 | Community – 6.4 (on 76’ for Morris)
Fredy did not repeat the fireworks from his last appearance but again joined the team late and helped earn a win, this time with 15 impactful touches.
One thing I liked: Montero in the 80th and 85th showed excellent control and decision-making, opening up Alex Roldan on the latter. Fredy’s ability to hold the ball up is excellent.
One thing I didn’t like: Fredy committed a foul in the 90th minute, unnecessarily giving up a free kick.
Going forward: Montero showed in the last two matches that he can be what the team needs late, to either drive Seattle or smother opposition chances.
Léo Chú – 5 | Community – 5.4 (on 88’ for Rusnák)
Léo Chú lives, and he came into the match to play some soccer. On for a few minutes, he had three touches.
One thing I liked: One hundred percent completion from the Chú.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 92nd minute he lost his mark in the box during an Austin set play.
Going forward: Chú found a few minutes and will need to show much more to get meaningful time the rest of this year.
Jackson Ragen – 5 | Community – 5.7 (on 88’ for Yeimar)
Ragen got a few minutes at the end of the match to look tall and play taller. He did both.
One thing I liked: One hundred percent completion from the Ragen.
One thing I didn’t like: Only one touch to prove his tallness.
Going forward: Ragen is waiting for any chance he can get, showing an ability to play across the backline should he be needed, but with the end of the season approaching the defense looks set.
Dylan Teves – 5 | Community – 5.5 (on 90’ for Ruidíaz)
Dylan got a rare appearance, charging onto the field to help close it out.
One thing I liked: Seattle didn’t need Teves to touch the ball, and he didn’t.
One thing I didn’t like: Seattle didn’t need Teves to touch the ball, and he didn’t.
Going forward: Teves had a great start in Toronto but has been out of the picture for minutes since. This is unlikely to change as the team pushes for the playoffs and leans on veterans.
Marcos de Oliveira – 6 | Community – 5.8
This was a pretty boring match for the referee. Neither side was excessively physical, and de Oliveira only had to blow his whistle 20 times for fouls (12 for Austin, eight on Seattle). He did a good job keeping the play calm and attempted to use advantage as much as possible. The cards given made sense.
One thing I liked: I liked the 46th minute delayed advantage call, giving the play time to conclude before whistling.
One thing I didn’t like: With Atencio getting an early card for physicality, it was surprising that Maxi Urruti never talked himself into one for all the histrionics and fouling he did. Alex Roldan probably deserved a warning for delay before getting a yellow.
Going forward: Seattle played well, and the referee didn’t directly influence the play, making this ref a quick favorite.
Austin FC MOTM
Urruti seems like one of those guys who you love when they’re on your team and hate playing against, and he’s not a Sounder. Despite lining up at the top of Austin’s setup, he primarily facilitated. He poked and prodded throughout the match, and unfortunately for the FCs, couldn’t fashion more than a few half chances.
Next up: Hay the Fe. Keep Winning.