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Realio’s Ratings: A draw that felt like a loss

Frei stands tall, earning another shutout, but Sounders can’t turn one point into three.

Last Updated
13 min read
Dustin Safranek - USA TODAY Sports

In a vacuum, a point on the road at FC Dallas, where Seattle has struggled, would be a positive result. But because of the dreadful start to 2024, it was just a dreary match sucking all the air out of the Sounders hype train. The positive vibes from last week’s home blowout were extinguished by the end of a mundane and boring match. Although for much of the game the Sounders looked better than the struggling Dallas team, Seattle appeared to play for (and ultimately earned) a single point. The 0-0 tie was an opportunity lost, as the Sounders were unwilling or unable (or both!) to push forward and execute with any urgency. Even when Seattle only managed one shot in the last half hour of the match, making just one sub prior to the 88th minute and no tactical improvements meant that, by the end of the game, everyone was exhausted and clearly just trying to get out of town as soon as possible.


Stefan Frei – 7 (MOTM) | Community – 6.8 (MOTM)

Frei is starting to string together shutouts and earned this one due to a couple of spectacular saves. Although only credited with two saves on the night, both were excellent parries and the definitive difference between a struggling team getting a road point and moral victory and a lousy team capitulating to the heat and pressure of a dreary season and going home empty. 

One thing I liked: Both of Frei’s saves were massive for the Sounders; the first came in the 6th minute as a sneaky shot deflected through the box on goal off Alex Roldan, and Frei was strong to parry it safely wide. His second was even better, a 49th minute long bouncing Paul Arriola shot that snuck up on Frei who gave it a strong push to prevent a goalbound shot. 

One thing I didn’t like: A terrible 73rd minute pass in the middle intended for Albert Rusnák was nearly recycled right back to Frei, and the intensity and cohesion in the back suffered as the game wore on.

Going forward: Frei shrugged off a horrible error that cost his team points, and since then he’s helped the Sounders earn four points from the last two matches, putting to rest any question about his starting position. 


Nouhou – 5 | Community – 5.4

Nouhou was just okay in this match, much like most of his teammates. His 98 touches were the highest on the team and he was clean with distribution (92 percent completion). The normally dependable Nouhou had a number of issues in the first half, as he was caught forward attempting to support an anemic attack which left gaps. 

One thing I liked: Smart play early shut down some Dallas half chances as Seattle actually pushed forward and attacked. Nouhou worked especially well with Yeimar, who came across to cover as he closed down a crosser in the 4th minute. The expected 1-v-1 defense was on full display in the 79th. 

One thing I didn’t like: A back post miscommunication gave Dallas one of their best looks of the night, as neither Nouhou nor Obed Vargas tracked a runner. One of Nouhou’s missed passes was an important push forward that went out of bounds with a wide open Rusnák hoping for the proper pass. These were examples of a sloppy game on both ends of the field for Nouhou.

Going forward: Someone from the fullback position has to be an asset in the attack or this offense is just dreadful. Maybe it shouldn’t be Nouhou, but at this point anything is better than whatever the Sounders are doing. 

Jackson Ragen – 6 | Community – 6.0

Ragen looked fine, and the defense as a whole was excellent in earning back-to-back shutouts. Jackson controlled the back, won three aerials, converted 92 percent of his 95 touches, and led the team with an impressive nine clearances as part of a no-nonsense defense that cleared the ball long and forced Dallas to attempt to beat them from long range. 

One thing I liked: A nice 61st minute step forward resulted in a steal, and it was clear Ragen understood the need to up the midfield intensity to force the offense forward.

One thing I didn’t like: Jackson has struggled this season with picking his spots to press, and he consistently allows space in the middle due to protecting his speed. On other occasions, such as the 76th minute, he gets beaten centrally which allows an inferior opponent a big chance due to being overly aggressive but missing. 

Going forward: Seattle’s defense is doing its job and is one of the best in the league, even though Ragen has been considerably less effective than he was last year. 

Yeimar – 6 | Community – 6.1

Yeimar was again strong but again had a quiet evening as Dallas focused their counter attacks through Arriola on the other side, and Seattle didn’t have much push up the right after halftime. Yeimar had 66 touches, preferring to make safe passes to teammates, and he wasn’t involved in a lot of ball progression. 

One thing I liked: Yeimar was excellent in coming across and supporting in the first half, especially in the 4th minute as he popped up on the left sideline to push an attack away. Yeimar’s back post awareness is consistently the best on the team. 

One thing I didn’t like: A 55th minute shove in defense is a part of his game to frustrate opponents, but it can get him in trouble, as the foul was called, giving Dallas a valuable set piece. A turnover twenty minutes later was luckily not capitalized upon. 

Going forward: Yeimar missed a few games at the start of the season but has been Seattle’s standout defender since he returned. His consistently stellar defense and dependable positioning creates momentum as the team continues to be strong defensively. 

Alex Roldan – 5 | Community – 5.3

After showing how impactful he can be on the offensive side of the ball last week, Alex regressed against Dallas. Gone were the key passes, the dynamic movement off the ball, the direct dangerous play, all replaced with bland, cautious passes that failed to remotely threaten the Dallas goal. 

One thing I liked: Alex did a lot of defensive work, amassing four tackles, two clearances, and two interceptions, with a crucial 30th minute intervention being some beautiful anticipatory defending. 

One thing I didn’t like: So many times Roldan got the ball in attacking areas but recycled possession back through Yeimar or a deep midfielder. His lack of a vertical push or desire to create any pressure forward was mind boggling. 

Going forward: Seattle has long relied on fullback support in the attack, and Alex’s best match this season was also the Sounders’ best performance. Alex is not solely to blame for their struggles, but it’s fair to say Roldan needs to play better for Seattle to be at their best. 

Defensive Midfield

Obed Vargas – 5 | Community – 5.4 (off 92’ for Teves)

After a strong game, Obed was again back to average. He did a lot of the little things well, especially on the physical defensive side, leading the team with five tackles and adding a blocked shot and interception. Vargas was lucky that his tracking defense wasn't exposed when central runners snuck in behind him as he trailed the play. His 80 percent passing was tame and safe, lacking some of the dynamic attempts from previous matches.

One thing I liked: The 38th minute saw Vargas again display excellent composure under pressure, spinning away from multiple defenders and controlling play centrally where a mistake could have been costly. 

One thing I didn’t like: After seeing how dynamic he could be and how much the offense improved when Vargas looked direct, having all that be absent from this game was disappointing. In the 92nd minute he made a great run but failed to pull the trigger on a cross. 

Going forward: Obed appears firmly in the conversation to pair with João Paulo in the middle, for better or worse. 

Josh Atencio – 5 | Community – 5.7 (off 65’ for João Paulo)

Atencio struggled to have his usual impact in this match, being forced to run from sideline to sideline with sometimes little support. This tired the young midfielder, who, like the Sounders team as a whole, faded in the second half. He had 66 touches and 82 percent passing before subbing out. 

One thing I liked: Josh attempted a few important long balls, like a completed 32nd ball that nicely switched the field. These passes showed an understanding of a need to stretch the field out, an understanding that wasn’t shared by the entire team. 

One thing I didn’t like: Atencio’s complete whiff in the 2nd minute on the end line in his own box gave Dallas a nervy chance early, and he was absent in the second half, missing a 49th minute pass and unable to provide the connection with teammates that was needed. 

Going forward: Atencio showed last year that he and JP can be a winning combination in the midfield. He may still get the first crack at the spot next to João, but the coaching staff clearly sees a path for Obed Vargas to pair there as well, and Atencio will need to play better than he did this week to claim the spot. 

Attacking Midfield

Jordan Morris – 6 | Community – 5.3

Morris was the offense in this match and the only player willing or able to stretch the field. The infrequent times he was able to do so created the best chances for Seattle. Two shots, two key passes, 94 percent passing: Jordan made the most of his 46 touches. 

One thing I liked: Jordan stretched the field and created the space for himself and others to work. A nice 19th minute diagonal cross was excellent, followed by nearly scoring himself in the 30th minute after making Paul Arriola look silly by cherry picking him then getting a low, hard shot on goal. A cross in the 41st made it all the way through to Cristian Roldan who whiffed on Seattle’s best chance of the night. 

One thing I didn’t like: Especially in the second half, the rest of the team couldn’t keep up with Jordan’s movement and runs, and there were few options. Unfortunately, Jordan’s best chance came in the return from Cristian, with a blind header falling to him in the 59th minute on the back post which Morris attempted to hit down, but he put it wide.

Going forward: Morris has looked good on the left, but with pieces returning, it is hard to tell where he will start, if he starts at all. He has looked like the best Sounder attacker for much of the season but doesn't have the stats. It's clear his ability to stretch the field is necessary for Seattle to function, but Jordan may need to do so from another spot. 

Albert Rusnák – 6 | Community – 6.0

Rusnák again started in the middle and was a strong facilitator; he was active in the first half which should have earned Seattle a lead. Connecting and combining with the midfield, he set up a number of offensive opportunities for himself and others, ending the match with a team-high three key passes and he almost scored on his only shot. 

One thing I liked: His 27th minute shot just missed at the far post. The 56th minute cheeky flick is the kind of play that will have added value when he’s surrounded by more dynamic and active players than Seattle had on the field in the second half. 

One thing I didn’t like: Rusnák plays at a higher tactical level than some of his teammates, and that must be frustrating. In the 65th minute he showed visible frustration with Obed Vargas who completely missed him at the second level; instead he stepped on the ball and dropped it back to Ragen. 

Going forward: Rusnák is a force multiplier, but with the forces lagging in the second half, there was little to work with and no fresh legs to combine with as Seattle settled for a single point. Having more dynamic defensive midfield passing will help, but Albert’s being crowded in the middle and the Sounders need to create space vertically and wide to allow him to thrive. 

Cristian Roldan – 5 | Community – 5.0

Cristian had a tumultuous match, mirroring the team’s frustrations as he was unable to convert or create chances big enough to get the team over the scoring hump. While pushing inside to support the middle and getting 55 touches, he had a rough 65 percent completion rate, struggling to connect both forward into dangerous areas and centrally. 

One thing I liked: In the 23rd minute, Roldan found a vertical Morris run and he’s still one of the few players who seems capable of accessing the “Jordan space.” A nice back post cross in the 59th minute came off his left foot and found the head of the aforementioned Morris, who did not score. 

One thing I didn’t like: The biggest moment of the match saw Roldan wide open on the back post with time and opportunity to push Seattle into halftime with a lead. Attempting to first-time the Morris cross that found him, Cristian whiffed, and with that chance went Seattle’s hopes of scoring in the game. 

Going forward: Roldan plays centrally as a winger to connect with the middle, but in this match Seattle completely abdicated any space on the width (unless Morris switched to that side, which non-coincidentally resulted in the big chance) and Seattle is consistently dreadful against packed defenses. Figuring out how to unlock the Broldan side of the field and access that space is essential in finding success. 


Raúl Ruidíaz – 5 | Community – 5.2 (off 86’ for Musovski)

Raúl continues to get reps at striker and was underwhelming against Dallas. He works hard, and the effort is clearly a coach favorite, but he was ineffective in the heat of Texas. His 33 touches resulted in a single shot and a single key pass, both midway through the first half. 

One thing I liked: A 27th minute shot is the kind of try that you want someone with Raúl’s skill to have a go with, as he got it on frame, he forced a save, and it’s the sort of attempt Ruidíaz can convert on within a tiny window. 

One thing I didn’t like: Raúl was completely ineffective going at goal for the entire second half. Even as a facilitator he struggled, as in the 60th minute Ruidíaz dropped back and had a chance to transform holdup play in his own half to a 4-v-3 for his team rushing forward into the attack. His pass was intercepted by Dallas. With Raúl dropping farther and farther back there was no “tip of the spear” for Seattle, which completely congested the midfield, suffocated any space for Sounders to work, and made the defensive positioning easily compact. 

Going forward: Seattle played better last year with Raúl on the bench. Suddenly he's getting 90 minutes every match. He had three touches after the 65th minute (zero in the attacking third) and was completely nonexistent. What are we doing here?


João Paulo – 5 | Community – 5.7 (on 65’ for Atencio) 

JP was the only sub for much of the match, replacing a lagging Atencio early in the second half. While active, João wasn’t able to link with teammates to unlock the Dallas defense. He had 27 touches in his substitute appearance with a number of the most direct, vertical passing attempts of the match. 

One thing I liked: A 66th minute bicycle-kick clearance is the kind of thing you do when you are feeling healthy, a good sign for Seattle’s MVP. JP got forward and combined in more attacking areas than his midfield mates. 

One thing I didn’t like: A 67th minute turnover and a 69th minute miss of a gorgeous Morris run showed the rust as Seattle desperately needed João Paulo to help unlock the spaces that were missed there. 

Going forward: Hopefully “back to full fitness" means JP starts and exerts long term influence on matches, something that can wear down defenses. His ability to consistently probe into dangerous spots is pressure that leads to defensive breakdowns, and often the cumulative effect is greater quality in chances created, something sorely needed by this Sounders team. 

Danny Musovski – 5 | Community – 5.6 (on 86’ for Ruidíaz) 

Musovski didn’t get much time on the field but was an immediate upgrade, both creating space for others and driving the ball forward toward goal. He had seven touches, completed each passing attempt, and looked lively. 

One thing I liked: After an 88th minute dribble nearly created something for the team, a deflected clearance in the 92nd minute saw Musovski drive directly at the back line before being turned back by the fifth defender, as he was only supported by Dylan Teves and a late-arriving Morris. 

One thing I didn’t like: Danny was active and goal-direct in a way that the player he replaced hadn’t been for over 30 minutes, and why he only got this small pittance of time is confusing. 

Going forward: As players return to health the sub minutes will likely decrease, especially if starters get penciled in for 85 minutes regardless of effectiveness, but Musovski has shown an essential talent for being direct on goal and effective in the air, something that likely remains important to the Sounders. 

Dylan Teves – 5 | Community – 5.0 (on 92’ for Vargas)

After coming in and nearly immediately scoring last time on the field, and creating a big chance the match before, Tevas was brought in to kill time and “preserve” a tie in the 92nd minute against Dallas. He had zero touches. 

One thing I liked: In the 93rd minute Teves sprinted forward, supported a nice Musovski effort by creating attacking space, then hustled to force a turnover in the attacking third. This gave Alex Roldan an opportunity to dribble forward and then, inexplicably, turn around and pass back toward the halfline to preserve this essential point as the ref called full time. 

One thing I didn’t like: Dropping back on defense, Dallas managed to get numbers behind him once, but Dylan didn’t find the right access to the back post. 

Going forward: Teves has good energy, makes smart moves, and can be a great combination with like-minded teammates. He showed he can give the team a spark off the bench, but this team was apparently scared of fire. 


Alexis Da Silva – 7 | Community – 5.6

This was a new ref for Seattle. He did well in the hot weather with two teams who struggled for much of the match. The game was called evenly, with each team earning 12 fouls and Dallas getting both yellow cards. As the match slowed down, the play got sloppy, and this could have led to more whistles late, but they weren’t always called. 

One thing I liked: This referee was quick to give appropriate yellows for much of the match, which was a pleasant surprise. Both cards were the correct call and met little resistance. 

One thing I didn’t like: Cristian Roldan gets fouled without a whistle more than perhaps anyone in the league, and he had cause for complaint in the 27th and 77th minutes, both times getting hammered with no call made. A soft call in the 73rd minute seemed at odds with the rest of the officiating. 

Going forward: Some of the new referees we’ve seen have been good – making consistent, appropriate calls to keep the game flowing and players safe – and that bodes well for the future. 

FC Dallas MOTM

Paul Arriola did his usual lots of running thing in this one. Playing as a right wingback, he was tasked with dealing with Seattle's left winger at one end (most often Jordan Morris), then pushing forward onto Nouhou during Dallas' various counters. He facilitated a chance for Petar Musa in the 40th minute.

Next up: Seattle invented winning 5-0 at home against Canadian teams.