An in-form Seattle team traveled to Portland to play against a lousy team. Unfortunately, a number of key possession players were out and as Seattle tired and changed tactics, their absences was massively felt. With 45 minutes of controlled play by both teams and Seattle having the better chances before halftime, it was the second week in a row that the Sounders came out the better team from the break, and dominated on the way to working a beautiful team goal. This came in the 58th minute and Seattle controlled much of the match
until a hurricane hit the stadium in minute 70 and they ended it early, as a 1-0 win for Seattle. Against the run of play, Portland scored a bicycle kick. Like in the second half of the LAG match, Seattle was overrun through the midfield but this time the defense completely fell apart, conceding four times in 20 minutes and ultimately losing 4-1. The team will rue not scoring the handful of opportunities they had to put this game away, well before the storm bicycle kick. This defeat was hard to stomach; even my mom called it a shit show, and the Sounders need to review their intensity in a rivalry match.
Stefan Frei – 4 | Community – 4.3
Giving up a handful of goals to your rival is bad enough, but it was the nature of the goals that brought into question Frei’s performances on the season. A normally great defense was porous through the last half hour of the match, but Frei shares much of the blame for being beaten on nearly everything that the defenders allowed. This was as poor a showing from Stefan as we have seen in years.
One thing I liked: A nice catch in traffic in the 54th minute was the kind of control Seattle seemed to be exerting over the match.
One thing I didn’t like: Four goals to your biggest rival is awful, especially when they’d only scored six all year. Frei could have done much better with most of them. The third was extremely egregious, as he once again “saved” a shot right into the path of an opponent to tap home. Goal number four: he waved as it went by.
Going forward: Shutouts? How about not being embarrassed by Portland three times a year? Where’s the leadership?
Nouhou – 6 | Community – 5.4 (off 80’ for Rowe)
Nouhou was very good, leading the team with three tackles and playing defense down his side to limit service to the box.
One thing I liked: Nouhou’s calm touch in the 56th was another example of how strong he has gotten in possession, casually taking a long ball softly to his feet and making good distribution decisions.
One thing I didn’t like: A 33rd minute turnover gave Portland an opportunity it didn’t really deserve in the first half.
Going forward: Nouhou wasn’t part of the big collapse, but his injury didn’t help so it’s hard to know how much to blame him.
Jackson Ragen – 4 | Community – 4.8
Ragen came off a great match to a howler, his second poor performance against Portland in a row. When Seattle lost their mind in the second half there was no calm influence on the defensive end to get things back on track, and Portland ran rampant through the middle.
One thing I liked: In the 16th minute we saw a Chad Marshall’esque-directed header out of trouble to a teammate, something that has been missing from Jackson’s game.
One thing I didn’t like: Ragen’s angle on the second goal was awful, somehow letting Nathan Fogaça walk in and score through Frei. On the fourth, he let a guy dribble down the middle and then watched as he had an unimpeded shot on goal. Jackson at some point should have committed to making the play more predictable by stopping the ball, even though Seattle was low on defenders supporting him.
Going forward: Ragen needs to play better in rivalry games.
Yeimar – 4 | Community – 4.6
This was one of the worst Yeimar performances we have seen. Seemingly befuddled by Timbers’ wide players, Yeimar auditioned for the Kraken and skated all over Portland’s field for the evening. The cracks showed in the first half, as Yeimar frequently gave away possession on the way to a lousy 69 percent passing rate.
One thing I liked: He led the team with four clearances.
One thing I didn’t like: Yeimar wasn’t great defensively and his positioning was off all match. He compounded this by getting caught in no-man’s land on the bicycle goal and looking somehow worse on the second one, being dribbled around and watching as Seattle conceded the lead. During the third he again over-committed. Goal four he under-committed, as he and Ragen watched Juan Mosquera score.
Going forward: Now that both halves of this central defense completely bombed, there’s plenty to work on. Yeimar forcing too aggressively has been a problem, and small mistakes are landsliding into massive errors.
Alex Roldan – 5 | Community – 4.7
Alex struggled all match with the physicality of Sounders Killer Dairon Asprilla. Time and again he was bodied off the ball, forced into stabbing or lunging defensive plays, and was absent going forward as a result of the Portland pressure down his side. Not asking Alex to get kicked in the face, but that was almost a dangerous play on the bicycle kick that happened right in front of him.
One thing I liked: He had nice defense in the 17th minute, winning a 1-v-1 battle with Asprilla.
One thing I didn’t like: Getting a 53rd minute yellow card limited his physicality, which was already lacking against Portland. This was compounded on the third goal when Alex just love-tapped Fogaça, who turned and shot on frame.
Going forward: Alex and Yeimar were continually beaten, and Seattle must adjust quickly to find defensive spacing that works.
Obed Vargas – 4 | Community – 5.3 (off 80’ for Montero)
Obed had a complete rollercoaster match that was ultimately disappointing. Subbing in for the injured Albert Rusnák and Josh Atencio, Obed started out rough. He struggled to get his positioning and connection with João Paulo before growing into the match and finding a moment of offensive brilliance. He followed this up with some of the worst positional defending we’ve seen since the last time he tired in the second half (versus LAG). He had fewer touches than the entire back line.
One thing I liked: In the 58th minute Obed got a midfield touch then smartly followed up the ball, eventually getting sprung into the right corner before finding a nifty cut back pass to Raúl Ruidíaz to open the scoring.
One thing I didn’t like: In the first half Vargas lost the ball in a number of bad positions, and in the second half his positioning was so exposed he rarely had a chance to pass badly because he was being run through and around by a rejuvenated Timbers midfield. His connection with João Paulo was atrocious.
Going forward: One nice run forward aside, Obed has struggled this year and will need to show a lot more growth to compete with players putting up MOTM performances from defensive midfield ahead of him. If Josh Atencio threw the gauntlet last week in competition for backup d-mid playing time, Vargas fell off his horse in response.
João Paulo – 6 | Community – 5.2
I don’t know how fit JP was, but he played a full 90 against Portland and looked to be worn down early. His partnership with Vargas was tenuous at best, and unlike his recent pairings with teammates who controlled the ball and got a lot of quality possession, a majority of the play was forced into João, and often he had to choose between multiple poor options.
One thing I liked: João Paulo had two of the best passes in the entire match. The first in the 23rd to put Jordan Morris in after faking checking to the ball, and the second in the 56th to catch the defense again as Alex Roldan snuck in behind the backline. These passes were excellent, and they deserved more from the guys on the other end.
One thing I didn’t like: As he tired (and after his yellow card), JP lost effectiveness defensively. He failed to step up aggressively on multiple occasions, with Portland taking full advantage on their first goal. Clearly frustrated late, he forced things and chased the ball trying to create impact, and Portland took advantage of the disastrous midfield shape.
Going forward: This match showed exactly how important the missing players are to this team, as when Sounders players press, it looks very familiar to last season’s shape.
Léo Chú – 6 | Community – 6.2 (MOTM) (off 69’ for Héber)
Léo Chú got another start and looked dangerous in the few opportunities he found to get in behind and attack the defense. For much of the match he was part of measured possession for Seattle, but his quick transition moments created the biggest chances before he was removed. He ended with 70 percent passing on 43 touches and had two key passes.
One thing I liked: Chú has matured his decision making within the Seattle offense, and he is not only creating chances but correctly choosing which crosses to make. This improvement in his overall play has made him a much more complete option.
One thing I didn’t like: Léo missed a header in the 67th minute that might have ended the match. I’m not sure how he failed to hit the ball.
Going forward: Léo Chú wasn’t the problem in this match, but subbing him out cost the team as it exacerbated some of the shape issues centrally that became apparent after he exited. He needs to continue to work on being relevant and more diverse on both sides of the ball.
Nico Lodeiro – 7 (MOTM) | Community – 5.6
Lodeiro had an active night, leading the match with 93 touches, completing 76 percent. He led the Sounders in shots with five and key passes with three, while adding multiple tackles and defensive plays in a complete effort.
One thing I liked: His 18th minute ball over the top was perfect, finding Chú in behind for what we have seen Morris score multiple times this year. He found Léo again in the 39th for another big chance.
One thing I didn’t like: In the 55th minute he had a wide open shot that he hit into the stands. An even better chance in the 68th minute on a clear header from a Morris cross was also missed.
Going forward: Again, Lodeiro only shows up in the final boxscore with a single assist, but he was instrumental in the necessary work on and off the ball.
Jordan Morris – 6 | Community – 5.6
Morris returned to the right side and was part of a dangerous counter attack and possession-based first half when Seattle created the best chances but was unable to break through. His 33 touches and 79 percent passing included a lot of direct wing play as well as some creative dives central in conjunction with Raúl.
One thing I liked: Morris was involved in nearly every quality chance for Seattle, whether it was part of buildup, crossing to dangerous areas, or getting on the end of crosses himself. He was close to scoring or assisting on a handful of chances.
One thing I didn’t like: Both Chú and Lodeiro missed open headers from Morris crosses, and other chances that Jordan created could have ended the game before Portland even thought about a comeback. Instead, a combination of bad luck and errors in execution allowed that disaster to happen.
Going forward: Morris has shown game-breaking ability at three positions and while it’s likely the preference is for left wing, Jordan is a great player playing well no matter where he lines up.
Raúl Ruidíaz – 6 | Community – 5.7 (off 83’ for Leyva)
Still a Portland menace, Raúl scored yet again in this rivalry, briefly giving Seattle a lead in the 58th minute. He struggled otherwise to get into the match, at times finding redundant runs with Morris and being victimized by a few poor touches. He had four shots but only put the one on frame.
One thing I liked: Ruidíaz made it look easy early in the second half when Obed Vargas crossed back toward the top of the 18. Raúl’s first-time shot worked through the crowded area and into the side net and was an almost casual finish from a tough angle.
One thing I didn’t like: Faced with a wide open header off a corner kick in the 36th minute, he cleared it safely into the stands, instead of heading on goal or down toward the far post where multiple Sounders were waiting to tap home an early goal.
Going forward: Raúl has two goals in two games this year and is doing his part well.
Héber – 5 | Community – 4.4 (on 69’ for Chú)
Héber joined the match and was part of Seattle’s tactical change to a more two-forward dominated shape.
One thing I liked: Héber played his role, completing 100 percent of his passes and combining on the few (11 touches) times he was able.
One thing I didn’t like: Adding Héber seemed to invite every Sounders player to start rushing forward, opening up massive gaps in the midfield that Portland walked through to score seemingly at will.
Going forward: There is a world where this sub both made sense and worked. In this situation, the move seemed to compound some of the already cracking defensive shape, and while not his fault, it is definitely a learning opportunity for the entire team.
Kelyn Rowe – 4 | Community – 4.0 (on 80’ for Nouhou)
With an injury to Nouhou, Rowe was quickly forced into the match in time to watch two goals go by him. He had a key pass.
One thing I liked: Kelyn had a nice flick in the 87th minute forward. At least he wasn’t scared of the ball.
One thing I didn’t like: It was one-way traffic for his entire time on the field, with Rowe unable to find any cohesion with teammates and forced into desperation defending. Watching Rowe inexplicably run away from the ball on goal number three was confusing, but watching him jog behind Portland as they broke out to score their fourth was just depressing.
Going forward: Rowe put in the effort, but as a last-minute sub he struggled as much as everyone else around him with tired legs were already struggling.
Fredy Montero – 5 | Community – 3.9 (on 80’ for Vargas)
Montero came into a rivalry game and seemed to be at least interested in fighting for a result, which was a pleasant change.
One thing I liked: He was active, with two tackles defensively to go with a key pass and some creative play.
One thing I didn’t like: I think Fredy may have had a legit claim to a PK in the 89th minute which would have changed things a lot, but his flop and it being Diego Chara who was already on a yellow meant it was off to the races the other way.
Going forward: Montero set up a couple of chances and nearly earned a PK, which is about all you can hope for from a late sub.
Danny Leyva – 5 | Community – 4.2 (on 83’ for Ruidíaz)
Realizing the defensive midfield was a complete disaster, Seattle added a defensive midfielder. This appeared to be a problem much earlier, and he didn’t immediately fix the Sounders since their struggles were more than one player-dependent, but Leyva added a bit more positional structure that helped some.
One thing I liked: Eight touches, 100 percent completion, and a more balanced middle.
One thing I didn’t like: Portland still scored after he entered, as no one covered the middle when Leyva made a wide run to the corner and crossed.
Going forward: It’s hard to judge this outing for Leyva, but it might indicate what the staff thinks of him that he wasn’t subbed in sooner when there was a clear midfield problem.
Drew Fischer – 5 | Community – 5.1
This ref had a lot to do in a rivalry match, but the first half was very muted and most of the game called itself. With a number of questionable calls being “played on,” it was clear that Fischer was going to err on the side of continuing play. He called 17 total fouls and handed out three yellows in a game that lacked a lot of the previous animosity expected.
One thing I liked: The yellow cards made sense, with JP barrelling into a man and Chara earning a persistent infringement card from his usual overly physical designs on anyone in the midfield.
One thing I didn’t like: Asprilla probably deserved a yellow for overly physical play on a number of occasions as well as a 38th minute dive that was blatant yet ignored. Multiple times advantage was played or professional fouls ignored.
Going forward: The referee didn’t have a lot of opportunities to change this match and didn’t appear to be actively searching for one, which was nice.
Portland Timbers MOTM
Asprilla and his rally-kickstarting bike ride away with this one. He didn’t do much else of note, but he didn’t really need to. That goal fully changed the complexion of a match that the Sounders would have felt they controlled well, up until that pivotal point.
Next up: Minnesota United, a good team that plays a boring style which the Sounders have struggled with, is coming to Seattle this weekend. A lot will depend on who can play, and what kind of energy Seattle brings this week.