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Seattle Sounders at Sporting Kansas City: Player ratings

Jordan Morris gets four to get ten.

Seattle went to Kansas City to play the Sporks and there was a ton of narrative against the Sounders: on the road, missing starters to international call ups, some injuries, playing a team that is never an easy matchup. After five minutes the doubts were completely justified, as a sluggish road team conceded on their first defensive test and SKC looked to be on the front foot. Unlike last year, however, Seattle weathered the pressure and turned the tide, starting with an equalizer to go into half level before breaking loose in the second half. Powered by a dynamic creator and an unstoppable finisher, the Sounders demonstrated excellent all around team play to dominate en route to a 4-1 final score.


Stefan Frei – 6 | Community – 6.7

Frei started out shakily, but like his team, he leveled off, growing into the match and holding SKC to the one early goal. Credited with two saves, Frei had an excellent defense in front of him for the latter 85 minutes or so, and wasn’t tasked to do anything spectacular.

One thing I liked: After conceding, Frei correctly prioritized clearing over possession. In the 21st he came well off his line to clear a ball and he continually made the safe play, allowing his offense to carry the match.

One thing I didn’t like: For the second time this year, Frei gave up a goal that he could have done better on. In the 5th minute he parried a shot back into the middle and directly to an alert William Agada who opened the scoring. The original shot was likely going wide so it was doubly disappointing to see him “save” it back into play instead of corralling it or pushing it safely wide and out.

Going forward: Goal of 33 shutouts is gone; 32 on deck.


Kelyn Rowe – 6 | Community – 6.3 (off 83’ for Dobbelaere)

Rowe looked out of place at times and made some unpredictable plays, but at the end of his shift he hadn’t been beaten badly and had done enough to prevent goals from his side. This wasn’t only a case of the ends justifying the means, as Kelyn had two tackles, two interceptions, and two clearances to go with 89 percent passing in a solid effort.

One thing I liked: In the 43rd minute it was Rowe who was leading a counterattack up the wing and looking spritely, helping create some offense and usher in halftime with continued momentum.

One thing I didn’t like: Something about the way Rowe played on the left made his every possession a scary moment. A number of obviously poor plays such as a 25th minute bad clearance or multiple turnover passes directly to SKC didn’t end up in anything major against Seattle, but there was an air of uneasiness as Kelyn took a few adventurous trips around the defense.

Going forward: Rowe ate minutes and got the ball to the guys in front of him without letting the opponent get behind him (for the most part). While not the sexiest outing, it was a workmanlike appearance and one that should maintain his hold on backup left back time.

Jackson Ragen – 7 | Community – 7.0

Ragen returned to his starting spot and, similar to the rest of the team, was shaky in the first few minutes but greatly improved into the match. He leveraged his skill and positioning to impact both sides of the match. Jackson was an incredible 46/46 passing. (That’s a 100 percent completion rate for non-math nerds.)

One thing I liked: The first goal was huge for Seattle as a momentum creator and it’s perfectly indicative of why Ragen has the starting role. It won’t show up in the statsheet, but in the 23rd minute Jackson took an innocuous short ball from Frei just outside the Sounders’ goal box. Instead of the open safe short pass to Rowe, Ragen instead hit a line-splitting pass to Léo Chú that cut out the entire four-man SKC midfield. This pass gave Seattle a 4-v-4, and after four touches, the ball was in the back of the net.

One thing I didn’t like: Ragen was part of a multitude of mistakes in minute 5, as he was too slow to react to Frei’s save to the field of play. As a result, Jackson got a nice view of his man scoring from three yards out.

Going forward: The Yeimar and Ragen combination in the back is part of a bigger defensive apparatus, but as a pair they are showing excellent cohesion. The ability to work off each others’ strengths and cover weaknesses has been nearly perfect this season.

Yeimar – 7 | Community – 7.3

Yeimar had another strong match, utilizing his speed to match up with Dániel Sallói and company on the SKC left. After a rough start, Seattle settled down and adjusted, part of which freed Yeimar up for cleaner passing, which resulted in an 87 percent completion rate on 53 attempts.

One thing I liked: It took a while for Cristian and Yeimar to get on the same page, but once they did, the right side of Seattle’s offense joined the match consistently. With Albert Rusnák supporting centrally and Roldan pushing high, it was Yeimar who held down the entire right defensively at times and was excellent at covering large spaces and opening opportunities for teammates. His ability to recognize and deny entry to the width removed much of SKC’s pressing attempts.

One thing I didn’t like: Yeimar had a few poor pass choices, the worst of which came in the 37th minute. Confronted by numerous options and being closed down, he chose wrong and gave away a bad turnover into the center.

Going forward: This year looks to be a resurgence for Yeimar who is showing DPOY abilities and adding some clean distribution to his repertoire as well.

Cristian Roldan – 6 | Community – 6.8 (off 87’ for Kitahara)

Cristian started in yet another position, this time in the right defense spot usually held down by his brother Alex. After a rocky start, Seattle and Roldan figured out how to get out from under the pressing SKC and created space to attack on the right with consistency. He had three tackles and four clearances and added a key pass to four won headers.

One thing I liked: It took some time but the Sounders (and Cristian) figured out his role up the wing and he was consistently playing wide in possession.

One thing I didn’t like: Cristian got turned badly in minute 5, allowing Sallói inside to get off a shot. This sort of play was directly off the scouting report, and Roldan should not have allowed that to happen.

Going forward: It’s great to see that Seattle has enough depth to deputize Cristian as a right back, but his brother is a better defensive player at this point in their careers, and that’s a good thing for daily play. Having this option for tactical flexibility is also a good thing.

Defensive Midfield

João Paulo – 8 | Community – 7.6 (off 84’ for Leyva)

João Paulo was massive in this game, yet somehow completely overshadowed by a handful of teammates. He had 100 touches, 22 more than the player with the second most on Seattle (Rowe), and yet still had an incredible 97 percent pass completion rate. Constantly making the right choices, JP was the engine from a defensive position.

One thing I liked: In minute 54 after Morris and Yeimar forced a blind clearance after a corner kick, JP used a nifty chest control to keep the ball in the attacking third and immediately first timed a ball into Chú at the top of the box. Léo and Jordan took it from there, but it was this essential bit of class — two quick touches (one chest down, one touch forward) that instantly put Seattle in a dangerous spot to score the go-ahead goal.

One thing I didn’t like: In the 42nd minute the ball popped out to the top of the box and the ever-present JP was there with a chance to strike direct. He put the ball into the stands and that is a shot he has the ability to get on frame and change the game going into halftime.

Going forward: The João and Atencio midfield pairing was excellent and showed a lineup flexibility that bodes well for a long season with plenty of opportunity for shuffled rosters.

Josh Atencio – 7 | Community – 6.6

Atencio stepped into the starting lineup and showed he is a quality option for Seattle if they need him. He had 74 touches and completed 92 percent of his passes as part of a near-flawless passing match from the defensive midfield. This cleanliness through the center of the field tilted the field firmly in the Sounders favor, as they minimized mistakes and turnovers in bad spots.

One thing I liked: There wasn’t a dropoff in style or substance from the Seattle midfield, and Atencio did beautifully settling in next to JP and denying space to SKC. He chose smart forays forward (minute 7 was a moment, as he helped kickstart the Seattle comeback by refusing to let them dwell on the previous mistake) and was solid defensively.

One thing I didn’t like: In the 28th minute Atencio did everything right as he dribbled out of the back but then passed immediately to the opponents. He was just rusty enough in these moments to show some room for improvement.

Going forward: Atencio has solidified his role as the backup defensive mid but may be getting some competition from a returning Obed Vargas. This is a great problem to have, and becoming a known quantity is an awesome tool for the coaching staff to create with.

Attacking Midfield

Léo Chú – 9 | Community – 8.9 (off 78’ for Montero)

Léo Chú got his first start of the 2023 season and, hoo boy, did he take full advantage. After settling into the match, he dialed up Jordan Morris three times directly and on a fourth occasion found Nico (who found Jordan) for a goal, tallying a league-record FOUR assists. He was completely dealing, finding smart passes (86 percent), playing defense (three tackles) in a comprehensive outing that highlighted the massive upside of which we’ve only seen glimpses thus far. Chú even tested the keeper with a nifty off-footed chip, forcing a tough save over the bar.

One thing I liked: I could write a novel about his performance, but Chú first changed the match in minute 23. Reeling a little from conceding early, the first goal was massive for Seattle’s comeback bid and this was Léo’s best play of the night. It was pure executional magic, as Léo took one touch from a long pass from Ragen to find Nico, ran past Graham Zusi to get on the end of Lodeiro’s first-time through ball, and delivered a magnificent pass onto the onrushing Morris for assist number one. The icing on the play was the inch-perfect curling pass around the defense, directly into the foot of Morris, and sending the keeper the wrong way, but the whole damn cake was made via a quick peek he took three strides earlier. At 22:28, after skating by Zusi, Léo lifts his head and sees three defenders between himself, Morris, and goal, but also knows his teammate and instinctively understands not only the run that Jordan will make, but that he will be fast enough to split the defense. At 22:30 his second touch of the sequence was the service to Morris, never looking up, yet still placing that spectacular pass that cut out four defenders and the keeper. Sublime.

One thing I didn’t like: It’s hard to find fault with someone who had four assists, but there were a few bad decisions, poor passes missed, and a number of times where Chú took hopeful dribbles into pressure and lost possession.

Going forward: I cannot imagine moving to another country in my early 20s, dealing with a pandemic and a new language and a rabid fanbase instantly comparing me to guys rated at ten times my value, and starting a family, all while trying to improve and tune out the negativity that came when I struggled. For now, enjoy the moment, Léo. You deserve it. (Sorry, our unreasonable expectations are now even higher.)

Nico Lodeiro – 8 | Community – 7.8

Lodeiro was another player a bit overshadowed by the success of the team around him, but he was essential to this success. His 76 touches, two key passes, two shots, a beautiful assist to Morris, and very smart tactical play in the midfield is a statline well deserved. Nico was active on both sides of the ball as well, leading the team with four tackles.

One thing I liked: Although he had an assist and very excellent midfield play to alleviate the SKC press, Lodeiro did something beautiful in the 60th minute that will never show up in a highlight reel. Having recently given up the lead (but before the red card) SKC was still involved in the match, and Rowe was caught in a 1-v-1 on the width. When Kelyn was beaten, it was Captain Nico Lodeiro who popped up defensively to thwart a quality chance for the home team. This level of effort and defensive intensity was amazing to see.

One thing I didn’t like: Morris might have had five or six had Nico managed to find him on a number of opportunities, as Nico ended 1 for 8 on crosses.

Going forward: It was an incredibly smart adjustment by Nico and Albert to erase the success SKC was having going forward and this kind of recognition and activity from Lodeiro is critical. He is doing as much as he has ever done for the team, but in unique ways in 2023.

Albert Rusnák – 7 | Community – 7.0

Albert started on the right wing for the first time in 2023 and after an adjustment period, found his spots to impact the match. He was incredibly tidy on the ball as usual, turning 54 touches into multiple shots and key passes, while completing 89 percent.

One thing I liked: SKC had an impact in the first 5 minutes, pressing and finding their goal. One of the most important adjustments Seattle made was freeing up Albert to mirror Nico’s movement. When Lodeiro dropped into the corners to overload and work out of pressure, Rusnák tucked inside and offered his usual excellent touch and vision as a corollary outlet. This was genius, as suddenly Rusnák would pop up centrally, holding possession and attacking behind the Kansas City line, distributing wide or direct. Seattle scored their 69th and 77th minute goals off of this positioning as well, having Albert central to press and free up the width for an overlapping Roldan had two-way impact.

One thing I didn’t like: Albert had a forced pass and yet again rushed a shot. He seems to be mentally forcing things in an attempt to be more direct, without luck.

Going forward: Having a player as technically proficient to play inverted on the wing worked nicely as a counterbalance to how Lodeiro played, and the idea of Nico and Albert playing more in tandem is an interesting wrinkle introduced to great success.


Jordan Morris – 10 (MOTM) | Community – 9.8 (MOTM) (off 84’ for Teves)

FOUR. FOUR GOALS. FOUR SHOTS. FOUR KEY PASSES. Jordan Morris was the TRUTH against Kansas City — too big, too strong, too fast, able to outjump, outthink, and outplay their defense. Paired with dynamic service, Jordan was an unstoppable force. He continually ran at the defense and found pockets to attack the goal, and when given opportunity, scored a ridiculous four times. Not just content to dominate the scoreline, Morris also dropped back and held the ball nicely, distributing consistently to others for possession or shot opportunities.

One thing I liked: The pure assortment of scoring ways is enough to make a fan giddy. The first goal was a spectacular direct run and clean finish. The second started with pressure in the corner to force a turnover then staying involved, moving onside horizontally before bursting to goal and finding a shot through a keeper. The third was a delicate touch on a blind pass, reaching out and deftly tapping the ball into the far post. The fourth was perhaps the most impressive, a physically imposing header only made possible by incredible leaping and timing to jump backwards, while somehow heading the ball down with enough power to beat a goalie. What a finishing clinic.

One thing I didn’t like: Jordan had a heavy touch in the 5th minute trying to hold up the ball. I think we will forgive him.

Going forward: Seattle has a ton of quality players who can play multiple positions. While it’s likely not prudent to change everything after one match, being tactically flexible is important in a long season, and having so many weapons and configurations is glorious. He deserves all the praise, and needless to say, June’s homies love Jordan Morris.


Fredy Montero – 5 | Community – 5.5 (on 78’ for Léo Chú)

Fredy got in late and had a shot and nine touches.

One thing I liked: Montero is excellent holding the ball in the corner, seemingly wasting minutes without losing possession.

One thing I didn’t like: His 66 percent passing was meh.

Going forward: This wasn’t a game where we needed Montero to do a lot, but if he is looking for playing time, he needs to show more when given the opportunity.

Ethan Dobbelaere – 5 | Community – 5.5 (on 83’ for Rowe)

A bit forgotten, it was nice to see Dobbelaere get a few minutes, entering for Rowe but playing on the right.

One thing I liked: 4/4 on passing and some good positioning.

One thing I didn’t like: There was an opportunity to give the younger players more minutes, and Ethan especially looked like he might have had impact potential.

Going forward: If he is going to break through for the Sounders, the most likely path is something similar to Alex Roldan’s. While that might be hopeful at this point, Ethan again looked calm and composed at right back in this match, clearly worth another look if the opportunity arises.

Dylan Teves – 5 | Community – 5.5 (on 84’ for Morris)

Teves got some time and had six touches.

One thing I liked: Dylan completed 100 percent of his passes, and that’s the highest percent you can have.

One thing I didn’t like: Teves had zero notes in his outing, and he will want to do something with his time on the field that is remarkable.

Going forward: We know Teves to be a very smart player who can fit in tactically with multiple systems, and he remains a depth piece that is somewhat of a mystery.

Danny Leyva – 5 | Community – 5.7 (on 84’ for João Paulo)

Leyva played a few minutes at the end of the match and looked like he belonged, showing good composure centrally and finding the ball 15 times.

One thing I liked: In the 91st minute it was Leyva who showed excellent defensive instincts, helping defend after Sota Kitahara was beaten by his man.

One thing I didn’t like: In the 86th minute Danny airmailed a pass.

Going forward: Leyva looked cohesive in the few minutes he got, and while he may be behind others, the consistency of his appearances is an excellent option for the coaches.

Sota Kitahara – 5 | Community – 5.5 (on 87’ for Roldan)

Sota Kitahara got his first minutes as a Seattle Sounder and was quite active in his time.

One thing I liked: Sota moved a lot, showing and finding the ball, earning seven touches and completing all four of his passes.

One thing I didn’t like: Up against Johnny Russell defensively in the 91st minute, Kitahara was beaten 1-v-1, necessitating Leyva’s intervention.

Going forward: There wasn’t enough in this match to know what to expect from Sota, but in his short time he looked active and had good touch and possession instincts, showing excellent potential.


Alex Chilowicz – 8 | Community – 6.6

Everything was going to look good after Seattle’s last match, but again Chilowicz showed well in a Sounders match. He was involved early to ensure that physical play was adjudicated, and used his whistle and advantage to guide the play while limiting the necessity for cards until forced. The far AR struggled at times to discern which direction for throw-ins and had to rely on the center ref, but for the most part the refereeing squad was excellent in an environment and against a team that other referees have struggled to govern.

One thing I liked: Almost all of the center referee’s calls made sense, and he only needed 19 total fouls to control the match. There was one yellow card which was an immediate and correct call, followed by the second yellow which showed that Chilowicz isn’t afraid to send someone off when the actions on the field warrant it. Some referees would have taken gamestate into consideration, but this was a refreshing change of making the right calls, efficiently.

One thing I didn’t like: There was a foul in the 18th minute by Remi Walter behind the play that was allowed to continue for advantage. Frustratingly, the card wasn’t given after the completion of events. This sort of card can’t just be erased by advantage.

Going forward: So far this referee has shown fairness, done a solid job, and has been highly rated in Sounders matches. Seattle has scored eight times in his games this year … Coincidence?

Sporting Kansas City MOTM

Dániel Sallói provided a devastating opening five minutes for SKC, swiveling his hips into this week’s MOTM award. He worked past Roldan, then Atencio, then put a mean shot on target, making things tough for Frei, and the Sporks’ opener came one touch later. Thankfully for Seattle, Sallói didn’t do a whole heck of a lot after that.

Next up: A boring LA Galaxy is next on this road trip and they are similar to SKC in their inability to score while putting up strong attacking numbers. A repeat of last weekend’s scoreline is fine by me.

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