Seattle continued their road trip into Colorado, where they played the struggling Rapids. In the first half, you saw an inspired lineup, an intriguing mix of veterans and youth that produced some of the most dynamic movement and appealing play of the season. This group showed well against a bottom tier opponent, earning a two-goal cushion that was relinquished late as the altitude and positioning errors finally caught up to the Sounders. The 2-1 final indicated both a late collapse and a bit of resiliency, as the team held on for a road win that counts even if the lack of style points won’t reward any re-watchers.
Stefan Frei – 6 | Community – 6.6
Frei again looked to be cruising to an easy shutout for the first 70 minutes of the match, with Seattle holding Colorado to two very speculative shots total. Then, after some subs and a massive drop in defensive intensity, the Sounders gave up nine shots in the final 15 minutes, conceded once and nearly dropped points. Stefan was credited with a single save.
One thing I liked: With all of the momentum on their side, Colorado had a great chance in the 87th minute to equalize off a long throw and flick to the back post, but Frei lunged and was able to make the save, securing the win.
One thing I didn’t like: Stefan continued a rough stretch where he struggles at distributing with his feet. It wasn’t just the slippery field that bit him a few times, but a combination of bad touch and poor choice in the 75th that nearly handed Colorado a big chance.
Going forward: Frei and Seattle haven’t shut out anyone for a while, and while it’s less important than wins, it’s an indicator that the defense is prone to big mistakes.
Nouhou – 6 | Community – 6.1 (off 81’ for RBW)
Nouhou didn’t have a lot to do, but when asked to defend, he did well. Sixty-five touches and 90 percent completion were his possession stats, but most importantly the Cameroonian played controlled behind Léo Chú, staying home and keeping possession which allowed Chú to cook.
One thing I liked: In the 5th minute Nouhou had a nifty drop pass over the top that found Chú up the wing, setting up the Colorado defense and forcing them to drop for the rest of the match. Some dominant 1-v-1 defense in the 23rd minute reminded us of his ability in the back.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 54th minute Nouhou was skinned defensively (something of a rarity), and needed the support when Chú tracked back (also a rarity).
Going forward: An early yellow card didn’t turn into disaster like in a previous Seattle match, but Nouhou will be sitting against Nashville due to accumulation.
Jackson Ragen – 6 | Community – 6.9
Ragen was solid in the back, combining to control the first half and limit Colorado to nothing much offensively until late. He mainly stayed home in his own half, finding safe square passes, and he completed 90 percent of them. He added seven clearances.
One thing I liked: A sliding tackle in the 15th minute was fun to watch, as the eight foot defender went horizontal and covered some serious ground in defense.
One thing I didn’t like: At times Ragen seemed to force the ball to teammates more than usual, which, while they were considered “completed” passes, put the Sounders under pressure and were hard to deal with.
Going forward: Jackson bounced back from a poor match with a solid one and will have a big matchup coming up.
Yeimar – 7 | Community – 6.6
Yeimar has been surging in the second half of the season with some great performances, and while this wasn’t overwhelming, he again was a standout in the back as his positioning and recovery ability freed up some serious Roldanery on the right. His 91 percent completion rate paired well with a shot and a key pass.
One thing I liked: A 9th minute over the top attempt to Albert Rusnák was nearly a magnificent goal, as Yeimar hit a perfect ball that Albert almost over-the-shoulder-volleyed for a goal of the year candidate.
One thing I didn’t like: Under no pressure in the 6th minute, Yeimar’s inexplicably poor pass across the face of his own defense was nearly a disastrous giveaway.
Going forward: Yeimar has again assumed the mantle of best defender on the team.
Alex Roldan – 6 | Community – 6.5
Judging by my kids and upbringing, you aren’t supposed to get along with your brother, let alone combine flawlessly on the soccer field every time you’re paired on the wing. Yet when Alex and Cristian Roldan start next to each other on the right, something brilliant happens. Alex pushes high, Cristian fills the midfield gaps, and they combine to lock down the side. This game was an example, with Alex freed by Yeimar’s wide defense and able to domino forward to his brother.
One thing I liked: The tactical positioning on the right was so improved, with Cristian floating and Alex connecting through all the spaces underneath. Leading the team with a nice 69 touches, the younger Roldan linked consistently through the smart movement of Josh Atencio to push the right and balance the field.
One thing I didn’t like: When Cristian subbed, the introduction of Obed Vargas changed all the cohesion. Suddenly the right side was scrambling, with multiple players chasing the ball as the team eventually conceded.
Going forward: Alex has been excellent at taking what the opponents give him and playing within himself this year. Strong right-sided play should support him being an even more impactful player.
João Paulo – 7 | Community – 7.3 (off 86’ for Arreaga)
JP was stellar for much of this match, combining through the middle with Josh Atencio to both defend strong in front of the back four but also getting forward, taking turns with Josh and Albert to make vertical runs through the middle. He had a 93 percent completion rate while creating two key passes in a full-field impact.
One thing I liked: João was a little bit of everything, but especially productive in creating big chances. His 7th minute cross nearly found Jordan Morris for a goal, and it was some excellent 34th minute pressure that created the turnover Chú would eventually score on.
One thing I didn’t like: A 73rd minute turnover where JP missed Chú was the start of Seattle’s fade, as everything after that was pretty much one way traffic the other direction. Had he completed that ball it might have been a 3-0 final.
Going forward: It’s wild how much the offense looks improved merely by putting in a center trio who pass to each other.
Josh Atencio – 7 | Community – 7.0
Atencio got the start and made a great case for more of them. While his outing wasn’t perfect or even statistically profound (54 touches, 77 percent passing, two tackles, eight duels), it was what his positioning and movement did for the team’s tactical shape that was an improvement. Time and again he moved to space and combined with a Roldan, JP, or Rusnák to continually spur the ball forward.
One thing I liked: The cohesion of Josh, Albert, and JP meant someone was always looking for a release of the speed guys, someone was always connecting through the center in possession, and someone was always diving into the box to overload and give more options in attack. Vertical passing from both defensive midfielders was simple, yet revolutionary.
One thing I didn’t like: Atencio just missed a number of big passes that could have broken apart the match, namely 29th and 34th minute attempts to put Morris in behind. If he wants to be the man, he has to complete those chances.
Going forward: It’s hard to watch the last two matches, see the difference in midfield shape, and not wonder why.
Léo Chú – 7 (MOTM) | Community – 7.5 (off 81’ for Lodeiro)
Chú returned to the starting lineup after taking a week off, and he returned to the same form as when he left. He didn’t skip a beat while surrounded by a different group of teammates, combining well with Rusnák and the midfield to stretch the pitch, and providing verticality parallel to Morris. His 40 touches were offense-minded, charging forward to poke and prod, and he made great decisions with the ball (87 percent completion rate).
One thing I liked: Everyone knows Chú can “push to the end line with pace and cross,” but against Colorado in minute 34 he reached into his bag of tricks and pulled out a “cut back to my right, drive into the box and hit a screamer to the far post” goal.
One thing I didn’t like: Léo’s defensive angles continue to be a work in progress, as often they are quite terribad. A chance to volley in the 51st minute was wasted.
Going forward: Seattle looks best when Chú and Morris can stretch the field and leverage other smart teammates’ active movement underneath.
Albert Rusnák – 7 | Community – 7.2
Rusnák got to start at the ten, and while it wasn’t the ball-dominant singular creative force Sounders fans might be used to at that position (only 40 touches), he added his own flair that worked excellently with teammates. He showed how well he can hold the team together via movement without monopolizing personal possession, and he popped up time and again in dangerous spots to find a shot for himself or a teammate.
One thing I liked: Albert led the team with four shots, as a direct result of his smart movement and ability to find gaps in the area to attack offensively. He did this perfectly in the 56th minute, tracking the combination of teammates on the right before diving directly at goal and heading strongly home from the six to double the Sounders lead in what would become an essential game-winning goal.
One thing I didn’t like: Rusnák missed the 9th minute attempt over the top from Yeimar which would have been spectacular, and he was too slow to shoot in the 52nd minute, displaying some room for offensive growth.
Going forward: Putting direct options up front and allowing Rusnák to coordinate attacks through the spaces underneath in combination with the midfield is a great look for Seattle.
Cristian Roldan – 7 | Community – 7.6 (MOTM) (off 65’ for Vargas)
Roldan was back, starting, and proved how important he is to this team. Immediately back to normal, Cristian did it all: 89 percent passing, a team-high four key passes, a shot of his own, and an assist borne out of the nifty combination play we have come to expect from him.
One thing I liked: In the 56th minute JP found Cristian in the right channel and Roldan did the rest. Driving by multiple players, somehow turning the corner at the end line, Cristian dropped a perfect hopeful ball to the six-yard box. His hopes were realized when a magical Albatross soared in to beak it home.
One thing I didn’t like: CR7 wasn’t perfect, and some rustiness showed up in being uncharacteristically pushed off the ball in the 3rd minute, giving bad service off a short corner in the 14th minute, and shooting over in the 24th with his brother wide open to his right.
Going forward: As soon as Roldan stepped off the field the intensity dropped, and the team conceded nine shots in the final 15 minutes, after conceding two in the time Cristian was on the field.
Jordan Morris – 6 | Community – 6.3
Jordan Morris started up top, and while he didn’t directly score or assist, his impact was felt all over the field. Colorado was forced back due to his smart diagonal runs, and this opened up all the central spaces for the intricate and attractive attacking soccer Seattle played. Jordan had 30 touches, two shots, and three won headers.
One thing I liked: Many times his movement would create the spaces for other smart players (e.g., JP, Roldan, Rusnák) to fill the gaps. With Morris occupying two and sometimes three defenders, this Seattle lineup attacked the spaces where they had numerical advantages.
One thing I didn’t like: Missing an early 7th minute header and only a single shot on goal shows a lot of room for improvement in direct goal contributions.
Going forward: Morris showed how to be impactful as a forward without many touches or shots.
Obed Vargas – 4 | Community – 5.1 (on 65’ for Cristian Roldan)
Obed came in with a two-goal lead and was asked to play a sort of hybrid right/center position, but he never seemed to settle into either. He had 18 touches and 73 percent passing.
One thing I liked: A nice turn in the 69th minute got him momentarily out of traffic.
One thing I didn’t like: He immediately followed up that good play with a turnover, added a middle pass to no one two minutes later, and he ended the match with a pointless 92nd minute foul that gave Colorado a big chance at the death.
Going forward: I don’t know if he has a contract that says he has to play every match, but Vargas isn’t playing with confidence. At some point that could be damaging for a young player with so much upside.
Reed Baker-Whiting – 5 | Community – 6.0 (on 81’ for Nouhou)
Reed came in to give some more energy and did that. He was very active, with 25 touches.
One thing I liked: RBW instantly juked his man and got a cross in after subbing on, showing the confidence from his recent MOTM outing.
One thing I didn’t like: A bad touch went right to Diego Rubio in the 91st minute as Colorado pushed waves forward.
Going forward: The likely starter for the accumulation-suspended Nouhou, Reed has a big opportunity this weekend.
Nico Lodeiro – 5 | Community – 5.6 (on 81’ for Chú)
After playing a full match prior, Nico arrived off the bench as Seattle scrambled to hold on to a late lead. He did well to control the match, with 13 touches and 100 percent completion rate.
One thing I liked: No one knows better than Lodeiro when to absorb contact and hit the deck, and he did this multiple times to earn important breathing room via fouls.
One thing I didn’t like: With only 13 touches, Lodeiro had a chance to be more ball dominant and add leadership that seemed lacking.
Going forward: Nico might want to get used to this role, but who knows?
Xavier Arreaga – 5 | Community – 5.6 (on 86’ for JP)
Xavi came in and as he has done all season, he played his role and kept the ball out of the net behind him. He had five touches.
One thing I liked: Arreaga seems to have a calming effect on the defense, and again he was inserted amidst chaos and helped close some gaps.
One thing I didn’t like: Xavier wasn’t as effective as he had been in shutting everything down, as Seattle remained under pressure even with the five-man backline.
Going forward: Arreaga continues to do just about everything right; he’s an excellent asset who is pushing for more time.
Filip Dujic – 7 | Community – 6.0
A new referee to the Sounders, you might not have noticed he was even on the field since he was very reluctant to use his whistle. Dujic only called eight total fouls, and somehow one of Seattle’s three fouls was the yellow card that means Nouhou misses the Nashville match.
One thing I liked: The card to Nouhou was the correct call, and some nice advantage calls for each team (Yeimar 23rd committing, then 55th on the receiving end) were great plays. This referee even ignored a dive in the 73rd minute.
One thing I didn’t like: Nouhou got away with a pretty egregious 51st minute foul and JP was on the receiving end of a 61st blatant call that also wasn’t whistled. In fact, not much of anything was whistled, so it’s hard to tell.
Going forward: Calling fewer fouls allowed the match to flow, and neither team played dirty so it made sense, but it felt weird to have so few stoppages.
Colorado Rapids MOTM
Goalscorer Cole Bassett did goalscoring with his 80th minute goal. Outside of that (and his sporadic involvement in the late flurry his goal caused), he didn’t do a whole lot. Then again, neither did his attacking teammates.
Next up: Just keep getting results.