Cookie Consent by Free Privacy Policy Generator Skip to content

Realio’s Ratings: Seattle’s newly-minted 8 looks to do it all

The young central midfielder can take pride in this performance, even if it didn’t lead to three points.

Last Updated
15 min read
Kayla Mehring / Sounder at Heart

Seattle continued their slow start to 2024 with an energetic but disappointing 0-0 tie at home against Austin FC. Austin was completely uninterested in scoring, so Seattle was tasked with breaking down a compact defense and was again unsuccessful in scoring from open play. The Sounders were missing a few star players and had no tactical answers for Austin’s defensive posture. Seattle had 23 shots but didn’t create the big chances for success from their opportunities. Absent the little bit of brilliance needed to break through, Sounders settled for numerous half chances and speculative opportunities, lacking the cohesion and execution needed to convert their overwhelming shot advantage into goals. It’s nice to earn the first shutout of the year, but this game asked the question even more urgently: how will Seattle score goals?


Andrew Thomas – 6 | Community – 6.2

Thomas played keeper for Seattle and again did just about everything right. The difference in this match was the opponent had no desire to threaten his goal, with both of their “shots” being tame attempts from far out. He again showed off strong passing skills and the few decisions he had to make were smart and quickly executed. 

One thing I liked: A 23rd minute catch in traffic showed good assertiveness to use his size and hands to remove a half chance. A calm clearance when under some pressure right before half showed his quality foot skills. 

One thing I didn’t like: At least one time Andrew wasn’t perfect: his 37th minute catch turned into a dribble off the turf before he corralled it. This isn’t a big deal when the opponent has zero attackers near the catch, but it is something to improve upon. 

Going forward: It usually takes more to earn a shutout than this one did, but they all count the same. Thomas appears to be a capable Stefan Frei backup and looks comfortable and able in the back. His passing and decision making are highlights, with good communication to his defense. Some overly aggressive play from last season in Tacoma seems to have been tempered. 


Nouhou – 7 | Community – 6.1

Nouhou had an outstanding match, as he and the defense removed all chances from an Austin team not very interested in testing them. The left back had 97 touches in a busy night, consistently driving the ball into the attack. In fact, he had almost twice as much progressive carry distance as any other Sounder as he continually brought the ball forward and found attacking teammates. Nouhou had two key passes and completed 83 percent of his attempts. Defensively, he contributed four clearances, as Austin had zero success probing the Sounders left side duo of Nouhou and Xavier Arreaga. 

One thing I liked: Nouhou did well to push into attacking spaces and found some quality crosses into the box. A 67th minute ball asked a lot of questions of the defense, and one ten minutes later was even better. That one dialed up Josh Atencio in the box for one of the best attempts of the night, forcing an excellent save by Austin’s keeper. A 94th minute Raúl Ruidíaz shot was created by good work from Nouhou.

One thing I didn’t like: An ill-advised 26th minute shot and 33rd minute error killed promising attacks for Seattle. There are few times when the best attacking option is Nouhou, and translating the forward momentum to going directly on goal is lacking.

Going forward: Nouhou is taking the space he’s given, putting in a few nice crosses per match, connecting to teammates and playing strong defense. If the team can’t score with the six attacking options in front but expects the left back to do more, it’s time to change the tactics or find someone with a skillset that better fits that need. 

Xavier Arreaga – 6 | Community – 5.9

Arreaga started for the Sounders for the first time in a while and looked excellent. He controlled the back and helped to organize the different lopsided defensive stances that Seattle took as wide players took turns pushing high and joining the attack. His 57 touches, 89 percent passing and a key pass were part of a clean, solid defensive outing. Austin’s infrequent offensive pushes were calmly dealt with by Arreaga and Co. 

One thing I liked: Xavier was effective on both sides of the field against Austin. An excellent pass threaded the needle to find Cristian Roldan in the 18th minute. Defensively, Arreaga had a smart play at the start of the second half, with perfect positioning to support Jackson Ragen after an uncalled foul, removing one of the small chances Austin had to break through. 

One thing I didn’t like: A strong tackle in the 22nd minute unnecessarily slammed the opponent into the benches, starting a kerfuffle. Being physical is part of Xavi’s game, but he can be overly aggressive at times, and this one resulted in an early yellow card. A terrible 93rd minute pass gave Austin a moment to potentially steal points late in the game. 

Going forward: Arreaga showed again that he’s an excellent MLS defender, consistently making strong plays on both ends of the field. As a depth piece, there aren’t many better options in the league, and he is a valuable trade option should the team decide to move him. As a starter, he slots in nicely on the left of defense and adds physical play and a second quality distributor from the back. 

Jackson Ragen – 7 | Community – 6.6

Ragen moved to the right side and assumed the aggressive posture that Yeimar usually takes, pushing forward as Austin conceded nearly the entire Sounders defensive half. This let Jackson show off some quality decision making and service from deep areas. He ended with 75 touches and 83 percent passing rate. He added two shots and a key pass due to aggressive positioning and a mundane three clearances in a quiet defensive match. 

One thing I liked: Ragen’s position on the right of central defense opened him up to be more aggressive with direct service forward, and he responded by leading the team with 11 completed progressive passes. He also had eight headers won, showing aerial dominance all match and adding some smart passing on the offensive end, nearly creating a goal when he dropped a 72nd minute cross onto the head of Jordan Morris. 

One thing I didn’t like: It was a nervy moment in the 55th minute when Jackson physically tackled an opponent in the box and the entire stadium held their breath. While ultimately not called, you cannot let the referee take the scoreline into their own hands. A chance on the other end saw Jackson miss a header in the 20th minute that he had a clear look at but failed to get on frame.

Going forward: With Yeimar’s absence, it's likely that Ragen will continue to bounce back and forth depending on who he pairs with in the defense. Ultimately, he’s an every match starter who excels wherever he’s positioned, but there are opportunities for him to take the next step in supporting offensive actions, especially with what looks like improved set piece service this season. (Speaking of Yeimar and set pieces, boy is he missed!) 

Alex Roldan – 5 | Community – 5.5

Alex had a better outing against Austin, but still didn’t have the impact we’re used to seeing. Combining often with his brother and midfielders, Alex struggled to translate this possession and combination play into the direct right-sided attacking we know he can do. While much of this may be due to central changes, Alex struggled from open play to affect the match. This resulted in a dismal 1/10 crossing, completely unable to connect with anyone in the box. He had a strong defensive match, often pushing high and initiating defensive posture near midfield, resulting in his team-high five tackles.

One thing I liked: Alex had much improved set piece delivery in this one, including an excellent pass in the 20th minute off a short corner, with Roldan dialing up Ragen on the back post that deserved a better result. His corner kicks were into dangerous areas. 

One thing I didn’t like: On multiple occasions Roldan got into great positions on the back side of the play, in the box, and froze. This hesitation, combined with too many extra touches, led to his one shot being blocked, and the other opportunity was wasted altogether. He has to be more definitive in the box, especially when given golden chances deep in the penalty area. 

Going forward: Alex has had a slow start to the season and the right side has underwhelmed. His usual creation with his brother is missing something, and neither are consistently getting to the end line and distributing back from the right corner as they did so effectively last year. This is a giant hole in the Sounders’ attack that must be fixed. 

Defensive Midfield

Obed Vargas – 6 | Community – 5.6

Obed improved from his first outing of the year, growing into the game against Austin and having a well-rounded match. His stats were solid: 64 touches, 88 percent passing, three shots, two key passes, and a few tackles defensively. He helped shuttle the ball forward more in this match, dribbling and pushing up as the opponent ceded much of the midfield to Seattle. 

One thing I liked: Some good defense right before half ensured a repeat of the previous game wouldn't happen. A shot off a corner in the 68th was an offensive highlight. For much of the match, Vargas was a coordinator for others. 

One thing I didn’t like: Obed didn’t do much overtly wrong, but there also weren’t a ton of highlights. When Vargas could have been more aggressive, creating off the dribble or attempting a low percentage but high reward pass, instead he defaulted to slower, controlled play. While not bad, this game needed some of the creativity we have seen in spurts from him. 

Going forward: The Vargas-and-Atencio midfield did a solid job against a team that was stacking up on the defensive side of the ball, but they still failed to create magic or to convert their play into better chances. While improving, this partnership is still underwhelming. 

Josh Atencio – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 6.9 (MOTM)

Josh Atencio was excellent, driving the Sounders repeatedly into attacking positions, supporting across the middle defensively, popping up in the box in the attack, and running the show from his central defensive midfielder position. He had 106 touches, a massive six shots, two key passes, two tackles, and four interceptions. He was fantastic at taking advantage of Austin’s defensive posture, pushing high and overloading offensive areas, combining with teammates and pushing tempo either on the dribble or through vertical passing. 

One thing I liked: Josh was credited with three aerials won, the biggest being his 77th minute header from the six-yard box off a great Nouhou cross. He put the shot on frame, forcing an excellent save from keeper Brad Stuver. Atencio was willing to get into the penalty area and mix it up, adding numbers and options to the attack. His 92nd minute delivery to Raúl nearly snagged a home win. 

One thing I didn’t like: In the 9th minute Josh had a beautiful dribble, slicing through the Austin defense on a rampaging creative run … then fumbled the ball away. He has the potential to be great and it shows on these plays, but the little bit of technical execution needed to convert his efforts into tangible team success is missing, mirroring the team in general. Oh, and two yellow cards in two games may be an issue later in the season (even though it was the right play). 

Going forward: Atencio has grown into a strong midfield shuttler who finds creative counter attacks through his dribbling or passing, as well as overloading the box as an extra option. Only his header made it through on target, though. If some of his six shots had instead landed on the foot of a DP, there could have been a better result. The next step for him is to slow down in the big moments and execute on the plays that will impact the scoreboard. 

Attacking Midfield

Léo Chú – 6 | Community – 5.8 (off 81’ for Musovski)

Léo looked much better this match, and having a proper center midfielder next to him opened up some of the space that he lacked in the previous match. He also looked more direct, going at Austin on the dribble and finding creative ways to find crosses and link through his wing. He had 51 touches and ended with two key passes and two shots. 

One thing I liked: For a 10-15 minute stretch in the second half, it was the Léo Chú show, as he marauded down the left, torturing Austin with his dribbles while connecting to teammates and creating chance after chance. Chú was cookin’, creating defensive gaps in the Austin backline and asking questions of the opponents. 

One thing I didn’t like: His decision making is still hit or miss, with Léo going direct on a few occasions when he should have passed (like in the 80th with both Ruidíaz and Morris making strong runs in front of him) and making hopeful crosses multiple times into traffic without a quality target. He is missing the decision making preciseness to supplement his creative abilities, and he absolutely must understand when to find a teammate. 

Going forward: Chú had a much improved match versus the prior one, but still is a part of an offense that creates chances but not BIG chances. This is problematic for a player like Léo who needs much of the offense to run through him, and Seattle/Chú is specifically missing the cutback options usually provided by Albert Rusnák and João Paulo. 

Pedro de la Vega – 6 | Community – 6.8 (off 63’ for Ruidíaz) 

Pedro got his first Sounders start and did well, running much of the show centrally but also demonstrating he’ll go anywhere on the field to find the ball. While not totally comfortable in the middle, his effort and movement accentuated nearly everyone around him, and his creative ability and technical skills were readily apparent. De La Vega ended with two shots and a key pass on 51 touches, with some connections but a definite sense that he is still not quite on the same page with teammates. 

One thing I liked: PDLV did a great job spreading the ball around the midfield, moving dynamically, and again showing his dribbling and tight control is some of the best in the league. His ability to break open the defense and create opportunity is fantastic.

One thing I didn’t like: Similar to teammates, Pedro settled for low-chance cross attempts (1/6) and he had almost no connection with Morris. He tried a lot of stuff but also forced reactionary movement from teammates a few times. 

Going forward: Pedro needs game time to get used to his teammates, and more importantly, for teammates to understand how to facilitate his talent. That he is now hurt is absolutely devastating for the Sounders, who need his creative spark and ability to play at a higher level than many others on the team. PDLV being out for a while is a shame for a multitude of reasons. 

Cristian Roldan – 6 | Community – 5.9

Cristian had another quiet match where he still led the team in key passes with four, although he only added a single blocked shot himself. Nothing about his 59 touches or 80 percent passing was noteworthy. Instead, Roldan was tasked with doing the dirty work on the right and centrally, moving to support teammates, combining in buildup, and being the lone connection to Morris. 

One thing I liked: Arreaga found Cristian over the top in the 18th minute as Roldan stretched the field. Much of PDLV’s success came via roaming, and it was Roldan who moved nearly perfectly in sync to enable the creative movement without sacrificing defensive presence or vertical runs. 

One thing I didn’t like: In the 85th minute Roldan was clearly tired in the box, and the usual late-match Cristian spark was missing from a team that was pressing and had all the momentum. Honestly, the biggest thing I didn’t like was how little of the game was about or involved Cristian Roldan, who normally has a bigger impact. 

Going forward: Cristian and his brother are missing the magic sauce that had them creating chances last year. The biggest deficit is attacking the right corner, as Cristian has been pulled more central due to big absences there, and Seattle hasn’t used that part of the field at all in early 2024. The Sounders need a more varied attack from this wing if they are to be successful. 


Jordan Morris – 5 | Community – 5.2

Jordan had another quiet game to start the year, with only 20 total touches in the entire match. He had a shot and a key pass, but wasn’t able to create any big chances and had limited impact. A willing runner who earned two tackles as a counter-pressing forward, Morris made some good runs that were unseen. He has yet to develop a strong connection with teammates that will create consistent threats. 

One thing I liked: Excellent pressing from Morris created some brief counter chances, including forcing a keeper error in the 31st minute as Seattle hounded Austin from attempting to possess in their own half. A 37th minute hustle play nearly busted him through on goal. 

One thing I didn’t like: Morris got in some good positions, but faltered on the execution. A 17th minute PDLV corner found Jordan but wasn’t finished. He was offside on a through ball in the 50th, missed a great chance from a Ragen cross in the 72nd, and ultimately was unable to get the ball in attacking areas. 

Going forward: One of the biggest things missing from the current midfield is attempts to connect with Morris. They either don’t find him, find him too late to be effective, or Morris doesn’t offer a valid option. Rusnák, and even more so João Paulo, find Jordan in optimal places to succeed; the current center pairing do not. As long as Cristian Roldan is the only one linking with Morris, Jordan will struggle to score when starting up top. 


Raúl Ruidíaz – 6 | Community – 6.4 (on 63’ for de la Vega)

Raúl entered with a third of the match left and was an instantly dynamic attacker, looking for chances to go direct and facilitating himself and teammates into strong goal scoring positions. He had three shots and 90 percent passing in 18 productive touches. 

One thing I liked: Ruidíaz was instantly goal-dangerous, forcing Austin to defend him constantly as he looked for unique angles to shoot. His last minute first time volley off an Atencio backside cross was hit with a technical skill few have, slamming nearly through the keeper and unfortunately off the crossbar and out. 

One thing I didn’t like: Put in to replace PDLV at center mid, Raúl didn’t have many touches or much involvement in any kind of buildup, instead lurking around on the top of the box playing as a striker, which left the middle zones open for speculative shots from defensive players. 

Going forward: Raúl looks goal dangerous, but he’s being used as a playmaker and it isn’t a great fit. While he can create, he is better at ghosting around the box and diving into scoring positions deep in the box, which Seattle hasn't been able to facilitate tactically so far this year. 

Danny Musovski – 4 | Community – 4.6 (on 81’ for Chú)

Musovski entered for the last nine minutes to replace a tiring Chú and offer some more size and ostensibly goal-direct play. He had five touches, won a header and had a 67 percent pass rate. 

One thing I liked: Playing more in the middle, Danny had some smart movement off the ball in support of teammates.

One thing I didn’t like: Added to a match where it was all one-way traffic and potentially being a big target as Seattle pumped service into the box, Musovski was nowhere to be found. 

Going forward: As far as bench sparks go, Musovski hasn’t shown it yet. Struggling when added to midfield positions, he isn’t active in buildup or creating goal-dangerous runs without the ball, two pretty essential needs for Seattle. 


Rafael Santos – 7 | Community – 4.9

Throughout the first two weeks, MLS has had some pretty poor officiating, and this one wasn’t a horror show like we experienced last week. This referee and his team did a solid job of running the match, calling a lot of fouls (32 combined) and cards (nine combined) but doing a mostly competent job. Expectations are low, but this outing showed good control from the center, mostly appropriate calls, and attention to safety of the players. 

One thing I liked: Austin used fouling to their advantage early, but the ref understood that and issued cards. Zero delay on handing out a 33rd minute yellow card is the kind of quick, authoritative refereeing we love to see. Ultimately giving out six to Austin, this helped keep the match watchable as the away team was looking to delay, slow the match down, and earn a shutout. There were even a number of standout plays, like allowing advantage as Chú played through an attempted tackle. 

One thing I didn’t like: This match wasn’t perfect, and there were times where he got it wrong. Perhaps the most frustrating was Jader Obrian only being called for a single foul, while receiving multiple “last” warnings, being overly physical and getting away with it, including a nasty two-footed tackle attempt in the 34th minute with studs completely exposed that somehow was shrugged off. 

Going forward: Throughout the first two weeks we have seen a poor referee performance and an okay one. Who knows what the future will bring?

Austin FC MOTM

Shot-stopper Stuver earned that shutout and point on the road versus Seattle. With the field tilted such as it was, he was asked to produce saves time and again, finishing with three on the night. And while, as has been noted, none of the Sounders’ chances were particularly big in nature, shots still need stopping.

Next up: Playing on the road in Philly is a huge uphill battle. Knowing they played a tough game midweek is one small, hopeful piece of info.