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Realio’s Ratings: Seattle Sounders vs. 2023 recap

2023 provided highs, lows, a return to the playoffs, and one last ride with Nico.

Last Updated
4 min read

In the final Sounders ratings post for the 2023 season I’ve compiled some stats to see a bit of the big picture. If you cut the season into four chunks, you see the hot start, the awful dropoff midyear, and the improvement to finish off the regular season. Although playing some of their best soccer in the playoffs, an inability to score meant a team playing well went home early. 


2023 team average, regular season: 5.95 

Opening 10 matches


20 pts

Middle 15 matches


16 pts

Final 9 matches


17 pts



2023 Highest Rated Matches: 

7.15 2-0 vs. Dallas playoffs, first leg (10/30)
6.79 3-0 vs. St. Louis (4/8)
6.71 2-0 at RSL (3/4)

2023 Lowest Rated Matches: 

5.13 0-2 at Vancouver (5/20)
5.13 1-4 at Portland (4/15)
5.20 0-2 vs. Atlanta (8/20)


2023 High Ratings: 

10 – Jordan Morris 1x
9 – Léo Chú 2x, Jordan Morris 1x, Nouhou 1x
8 – João Paulo 7x, Stefan Frei 5x, Morris 4x, Cristian Roldan 4x, Albert Rusnák 3x, Nico Lodeiro 2x, Jackson Ragen 2x, Josh Atencio 2x, Chú 2x, Yeimar 2x, Alex Roldan 1x, Raúl Ruidíaz 1x

Most MOTM: 7x (Frei) 5x (JP, Chú) 3x (C. Roldan, Yeimar, Morris) 

2023 Low Ratings: 

4 – Obed Vargas 3x, Ruidíaz 2x, A. Roldan 2x, Nouhou 2x, Fredy Montero 1x, Ragen 1x, Kelyn Rowe 1x, Chú 1x, Reed Baker-Whiting 1x, Frei 1x, Yeimar 1x. 

Highest rated Sounders, 2015-2023:

Regular Season – Obafemi Martins (7.00), João Paulo (6.90), Lodeiro (6.66)
Playoffs – Clint Dempsey (7.43), Chad Marshall (7.40), Lodeiro (7.15)


2023 Referee Appearances: 

4x - Allen Chapman; 3x - Victor Rivas, Joseph Dickerson, Rosendo Mendoza, Nima Saghafi

2023 Referees High Ratings (apps): 

8 - Pierre-Luc Lauziere (1), Armando Villarreal (1)
7.5 - Alex Chilowicz (2)
7 - Filip Dujic (1), Lukasz Szpala (1)

2023 Referees Low Ratings (apps): 

3 - Jair Marrufo (1)
3.5 - Ted Unkel (2)
4 - Ismail Elfath (1)
4.5 - Drew Fischer (2), Jon Freemon (2), Fotis Bazakos (2)

Referee Comments:

2023 was the year of new referees. Often, if you didn’t recognize the name, they were going to do a good job. Referees Dujic, Szpala, and top-rated Lauziere had a combined three Sounders matches coming into 2023, and were again rated highly. Chilowicz has now refereed a total of seven Sounders games, and his name should be a welcome sight on match sheets. On the flip side, consistently awful referee Marrufo takes yet another ratings wooden spoon, in his 22nd rated Sounders match. Other previously low-rated referees Fischer, Bazakos, and Elfath showed up again on the list of low scorers.

Realio’s Recap

2023 was a rollercoaster of a year for the Seattle Sounders. Starting February 4th with a Champions League match against Al Ahli, the season encompassed over 10 months of competitive matches. A sizzling start to the MLS season faded into a miserable summer before a resurgent fall. Then, playoff soccer once again saw the Sounders competing for the MLS Cup. Ultimately falling short, 2023 was a learning experience, as the team tested their roster depth and found out they can compete at a high level without the same lineups they have used for the last five-plus years. Some young talented players emerged, as did a tactical flexibility that leaned on a league-best defense and suffocating possession style. 

What I liked: Playoff Sounders are the best Sounders. After a brief hiccup in 2022 they were deservedly back in the playoffs. The team had a great start to the MLS season, and despite a severe dip mid-season, the team righted itself, ending up second overall in the Western Conference. The massive improvement from young players is the most exciting takeaway from 2023. Ragen found the consistency to drive himself into best-in-the-league discussions. Atencio found starter’s minutes and delivered. Chú forced his way into the starting lineup, carrying the team creatively for months in rapid improvement for the Brazilian. Other young players such as Reed Baker-Whiting and Cody Baker also took developmental steps forward, showing high ceilings and MLS skills. These young players pushing for minutes provide incredible depth, and are supplemented by prime TAM players who dominated the ratings — JP, Roldan, and Yeimar again showed league-best ability at their positions and irreplaceable skills for Seattle. The Sounders look poised to continue their excellence even as they replace legends. 

What I didn’t like: The midseason swoon was demoralizing, as the team played badly, players were hurt and underperforming, and it was painful to watch. No tactical adjustments could hide the lack of creative attacks. A disastrous game against Atlanta had some of the most uninspired play at a Sounders home match in recent memory, immediately following their meek showing in the Leagues Cup, falling to both RSL and Monterrey by multiple goals. Héber was the king of almost scoring, going from inspired signing to massive disappointment. Cristian Roldan had head injury issues that called into question his ability to play in the future. The highest paid players on the team vastly underperformed, and in MLS you need DPs to be difference makers, not benchwarmers. Their once formidable home field advantage was largely absent. People were calling for Defiance players to start, hoping for a spark of energy, which is a bad look for a proud team. All of these factors had many thinking Seattle needed to blow up the team and start over, including the coaching staff. Those were the dark days of poetry ratings, because what could you say? You had to laugh or cry. 

Moving forward: One takeaway from 2023 is that the roster doesn’t need an entire overhaul; instead they look poised to retool and restock. With DPs aging, Seattle faces an exciting but scary 2024 as they move past legends while acknowledging the team is still elite as currently assembled. A Sounders star moved to Orlando in the offseason, and they must develop a new identity without Nico Lodeiro for the first time in seven years. Based on play alone, this is the João Paulo era, but increased roles for Seattle veterans Rusnák, Morris, and the BRoldans, plus the emergence of young starters Ragen and Atencio, should set high expectations for 2024. While the team can compete as is, there are definite attacking needs and room to improve. The team has an open DP spot to fill, a great youth pipeline, and some flexibility in roster construction that is intriguing. More scoring is the highest concern, whether via more direct wide play or finding some scoring boots for current players. Somehow the Sounders, despite underperforming for much of 2023 and losing its best-ever player in the offseason, could actually be a better team in 2024 with minimal changes.