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Realio’s Ratings: Sounders continue to flounder

Atencio propels team forward as their best performance of 2024 still results in a loss.

Last Updated
15 min read
Alex Gallardo - USA TODAY Sports

Going on the road, missing multiple key players, and playing the undefeated, Supporters’ Shield-leading LA Galaxy, was a game you expected to lose, but the Sounders still managed to disappoint. Seattle created 17 shots and for long stretches were the better team. A 1-0 scoreline against a high-scoring but defensively suspect LAG showed some improvement, but it also highlighted the essential pieces that are missing. In prior years the team, or maybe an individual player, stepped up to provide leadership and energy to gut out points or come back from a deficit, and knowing they could do that generated confidence over the course of a season. Games like this were ties at the least, if not wins. That ability to get a point on the road, to create and hold onto three at home, that singular past-Sounders aura? It’s just missing. Instead, everyone looks around for someone else to step up and make the big play, or they press too hard. If you look closely, there’s a good team in there, but it's hidden by layers of cascading errors. This year’s Sounders must find direction before it's too late. 


Stefan Frei – 4 | Community – 4.4

Frei hasn’t looked clean this year, and his second match was no different than his first. He didn’t have much work to do (one save on two shots on goal) after a busy start to the match. There’s no sugar coating it: Frei struggled at the start of the game and Seattle conceded. With an offense unable to turn it around, that one goal was all it took. 

One thing I liked: After the first 10 minutes, the defense was excellent, and Frei barely got the ball. This meant only 15 touches for him, and he was content to kick the ball long and allow the defense to do the rest. 

One thing I didn’t like: There isn’t much excuse for the non-save in the 4th minute; he would make that save 99 out of 100 times. If that one time occurs where his hands let him down, he must do better to get his body in front of the shot. The options were to catch it, push it wide of the goal, or even bat it back the way it came, but Frei went for option four: whiff the ball into the net. He also badly stumbled on the 2nd minute Joseph Paintsil shot, and I have no idea what he was doing in the 52nd minute when the ball bounced around the box as Frei misjudged a cross, did the YMCA dance, and inexplicably chested a ball to himself before falling on the ball. 

Going forward: Frei is a leader and captain of the team and leaders have to lead. Make a big save, instill some confidence in the rest of the guys by example. Help earn the points by stepping up. He hasn’t done that this year, and instead he’s been trending the other direction. 


Nouhou – 7 | Community – 5.9

Nouhou was excellent in this match, dropping in mainly as a third center back with Jackson Ragen and Yeimar, and dictating the match through strong defensive interventions. He led the team with both seven clearances and a massive five tackles, many in critical 1-v-1 situations. Nouhou didn’t get forward too much in this match, but he had a number of excellent crosses when he did, including a key pass. 

One thing I liked: His pullback pass to Albert Rusnák in the 70th gave the Sounders’ DP an open look from the top of the box. Even more impressive was his excellent 1-v-1 defense on Paintsil, including picking his pocket in the 54th and shutting him down in the 58th. Nouhou added more transition defense in the 74th, a beautiful 1-v-2 against Riqui Puig and Marco Delgado where he turned both away. His intensity in these pivotal transition moments was excellent, and he excelled in limiting the big counter-attacking movements that have been such a struggle for Seattle recently.

One thing I didn’t like: The early defense was clearly out of sync and on LA’s goal there were three lines of confrontation that were all wrong. Nouhou was in the second line, zonal marking with Jordan Morris as Puig dropped a pass over his head. Like other times this year, Nouhou struggled with plays behind him and didn’t support central. Even though Seattle has four guys effectively marking two active LAG players in the box and they force a savable shot, at some point Sounders defenders have to stop marking space and actually step to dangerous players with the ball. 

Going forward: Seattle started very slowly and the adjustment to a new lineup took long enough for the Sounders to start in a hole. Nouhou continues to do what he does extremely well, and appears to be adjusting game by game to what the offensive needs are in front of him.

Jackson Ragen – 6 | Community – 5.2

Ragen was excellent after the first 15 minutes or so, as Seattle struggled to come out with the same pace and intensity as LA. Unfortunately, those 15 minutes were enough for the Galaxy to create multiple big chances, and to score enough to see out the win against an anemic Sounders offense. Jackson had 70 touches and a sparkling 94 percent passing rate, adjusting to the wet field. He completed six of eight attempted long balls which was helpful, adding verticality to the attack. 

One thing I liked: A great 36th minute recovery run ended one of the few LA counter attacks as Ragen took a smart angle. A 25th minute dribble was a (perhaps unnecessary) fun romp through the middle. 

One thing I didn’t like: Jackson is making some rough decisions as the last man back and being exposed nearly every match. Against LA he stepped up in the 2nd minute only to have a through ball go right over his head into Paintsil for a 1-v-1 with Frei after Ragen completely whiffed an attempted header. In the 75th minute he refused to go wide and support a beaten Nouhou, instead recovering straight to the middle of the field and marking space. His confidence appears to be struggling. 

Going forward: Ragen understands where the defensive pressure needs to go. Even on the goal he was correctly gesturing to where it ultimately came from. He must figure out how to translate that information to a more cohesive back line who follows that direction, and he needs to limit his personal aggressiveness which is backfiring without support in the defense. 

Yeimar – 6 | Community – 5.8

Yeimar was very good, taking up a wide center back role and supporting forward as much as possible. Due to this aggressive positioning, he had a shot and a key pass, but only 77 percent completion rate on his 65 touches. Defensively, he was Yeimar, with six clearances to highlight. 

One thing I liked: Yeimar was able to look cross-field, consistently progressing the ball via diagonal passes that opened up space. He also found Cristian Roldan on a 34th minute through ball in a give-and-go combo in the attacking third you might not have expected.

One thing I didn’t like: An absolutely horrific clearance to the middle of the field in the 36th and bad passes in the 53rd and 54th reminded us about Yeimar’s penchant for randomly inaccurate distribution.

Going forward: Yeimar looks solid again this year, but must get in line with Ragen (literally, at times). They don’t appear to be on the same page, resulting in multiple defensive breakdowns like the one that cost Seattle the LA goal. 

Cody Baker – 5 | Community – 5.5 (off 60’ for Musovski)

Cody got a start at right back as Seattle shuffled some parts around. He did his best to offer width, and did a good job, often being the most vertical player on the right, but didn’t offer a lot in either half, being more of a facilitator for possession. His 50 touches resulted in a less than stellar 70 percent passing, and he had a shot and two clearances. 

One thing I liked: Baker started off the match well with a 10th minute cross from the right, again showing that he has the ability to drop in quality wide service. 

One thing I didn’t like: A couple of bad turnovers put his teammates under added pressure in the 6th and 32nd minutes. In the 57th minute, his wide open opportunity to shoot instead saw Cody take extra touches and fail to get the attempt off.

Going forward: Baker looks like a solid option as a backup on the outside of defense and can put in nice service while adding some aggressive forward play, but doesn’t yet have the finesse or technical skills to take advantage of some of the chances he creates. 

Defensive Midfield

Cristian Roldan – 6 | Community – 5.4 (off 79’ for Rothrock)

Versatile Cristian Roldan earned a start in the defensive midfield and struggled to get his feet before growing into the match and showing glimpses of elite play centrally. Playing under the radar, Roldan filled the stat sheet with 71 touches, a key pass, and an 83 percent completion rate, covering the field defensively as Seattle slowly imposed their will on the match.

One thing I liked: A 32nd minute strong challenge was some physicality not seen from the younger players so far centrally. Cristian’s ability to combine with his brother allowed both Roldans to play interchangeably in the center and on the right, which created some defensive support and offensive cohesion. 

One thing I didn’t like: Cristian was both out of position and slow for the first 10 minutes of the match and LA took advantage. Although he grew into the match, on a 74th minute break out he ignored a Morris through ball attempt to instead pull the ball back from the edge of the LA box, and slowly recycled possession. 

Going forward: It wasn’t conclusive last weekend that Roldan must start centrally when everyone is healthy, but it’s hard to tell how much of his competence is because Cristian is a smart soccer player who can do anything, and how much the position supports his individual skill set. (Congrats on the incoming kid, Cristian!)

Joshua Atencio – 7 (MOTM) | Community – 6.3 (MOTM) (off 85’ for Teves)

With Roldan staying more central, Atencio drifted wide from sideline to sideline to support the Seattle possession and was excellent in being the metronome between defense and offense possession. A tackle, three interceptions and a clearance paired nicely with two shots, 86 percent passing, and 90 touches. Josh connected well through the middle and as usual covered a ton of ground.

One thing I liked: Immediately looking direct, Atencio found Morris forward in the 8th minute that created a Sounder shot. He tried again to find Jordan in the 21st and clearly understood Seattle’s need to stretch out LA. A beautiful 84th minute dribble was something that has been missing since PDLV was injured.

One thing I didn’t like: Like some of his other appearances this season, Atencio sometimes forces too much. A 16th minute attempt forward resulted in a dangerous turnover; Josh is still learning when to push and when to retain control. 

Going forward: It was great to have Atencio back. He remains a solid glue piece but is unable to add the exceptional play to help break down a defense or create the big chance Seattle so desperately needs. 

Attacking Midfield

Jordan Morris – 6 | Community – 4.5

Morris started on the left and played as a wide attacker, encompassing the mid and forward spaces. Dynamic and direct, Jordan continually made excellent runs and put pressure on the Galaxy. Jordan seeing a little more of the ball (43 touches) was good for Seattle and he translated that into a shot, two key passes, and 93 percent passing. 

One thing I liked: Whether it was an 8th minute vertical run and cross to open up Raúl or a 47th minute give-and-go with Rusnák to get in behind and lift an excellent cross to the center, it was Morris consistently probing up the field to create gaps in the LA defense.

One thing I didn’t like: Like he heard my pleading to go at the goal, Morris finally did that in the 90th minute, dribbling brilliantly through the defense, playing a give-and-go with Dylan Teves, and receiving a return pass with Danny Musovski cleaning out the space. Clearly trying to keep it low and place it around the cross runs, Morris inexplicably put it wide. Sadness. 

Going forward: Jordan created some of the biggest chances in this match and continues to make excellent runs. He has the ability to make opportunities for himself and others on his skills and physical ability alone, but he should have put that one away. 

Albert Rusnák – 6 | Community – 5.6

Rusnák wasn’t an immediate entrance point into the opponent's box, but he did help support teammates in attacking the Galaxy in some new and interesting ways. Especially in the second half, Seattle was dominant and multi-faceted, surging through middle and wide channels and switching up attack angles to create forward options. Rusnák led the offense by turning his 67 touches into three shots and two key passes and completing a tidy 90 percent. 

One thing I liked: Having Albert back in the lineup strengthened the core and allowed more central connectivity. His movement in and around the box was a big improvement, creating a shot in the 47th minute for himself, connecting with Morris a minute later, and nearly finding the ball in the 56th minute in a stellar Sounders attack that didn’t quite finish true. 

One thing I didn’t like: After a 15th minute steal and long dribble, Rusnák ran out of options and the play ended in a turnover. Another attacking opportunity for Albert came via a quality Nouhou cross to the top of the box in minute 70; Rusnák put his shot wide. 

Going forward: It’s not a coincidence that this is the best Seattle has looked this year, with Rusnák back and his technical skills supporting the glue tasks needed on both sides of the field. Unfortunately, the Sounders need more than a return to average; hopefully more talent on the field will allow Rusnák to exert his influence further forward. 

Alex Roldan – 6 | Community – 4.9

Alex was moved up a line, likely to facilitate the movement of his brother into a central area. He played this wing somewhat similarly to Cristian, by dropping centrally and deep in defense and in search of possessive control. He led the Sounders with both 91 touches and three key passes. He put his one shot attempt wide. 

One thing I liked: It was excellent wide service from Alex that offered Seattle many near misses, including the 65th minute cross to Musovski that nearly netted the second Cervid goal in as many games. He followed this up with another terrific ball in the 89th that again was just missed by multiple Sounders. 

One thing I didn’t like: Alex looked fairly comfortable drifting into the center to interchange with Cristian but wasn’t particularly effective in possession. His passing and connection in the right channel didn’t create opportunities for himself or Baker on the overlap. 

Going forward: Roldan improved in this match over his wide fullback play so far this year, but really shone when he got into attacking areas and was allowed to showcase his excellent wide service, something that has been an essential part of his success from the right back spot. 


Raúl Ruidíaz – 5 | Community – 5.0 (off 79’ for Leyva)

Raúl played forward but again struggled to get into the box and receive service. He worked hard and came back to get the ball, but he only had 27 innocuous touches without troubling the goal, creating a single key pass for others and putting all of his team-high four shots wide of the Galaxy goal.

One thing I liked: His near-post run and shot in the 8th minute was vintage, getting on the end of excellent wide service through Atencio→Morris. A yellow card taken in transition was some heads-up defending. 

One thing I didn’t like: The lack of movement as the game wore on was troubling. In the 27th and 35th, Seattle moved the ball up field and created opportunities in the attacking third but Raúl refused to make supporting runs that were desperately needed, instead drifting and waiting for an impossible pass that never came. Forcing a bad shot in the 63rd was pretty much a microcosm of his year so far, as was his inability to stretch the field, leaving Seattle flat across the attacking band. 

Going forward: Outside of his cheeky penalty kicks, Raúl’s play has been symbolic of the Sounders attack overall: unable to create big chances, forced bad shots, missed opportunities, and lack of punishing defenses for any mistakes. 


Danny Musovski – 6 | Community – 5.6 (on 60’ for Baker) 

Musovski followed up his stellar substitute appearance against San Jose with another strong performance against LA, coming in with a half hour to play and being part of some of the best soccer Seattle has played this season. Although only getting 15 touches, Danny threatened goal on a number of occasions, earned a shot, and looked like part of a dangerous attack that benefited from his intelligent movement in the box. 

One thing I liked: For the second game in a row, Danny came in and was able to create goal-direct chances. He nearly tied the match up on another excellent header in traffic in the 65th minute. His movement is intelligent, opening opportunities for himself and also, like in Morris’ last-minute chance, creating space for others. 

One thing I didn’t like: There were two big “almosts" where Musovski was too slow, and the hope is that it's some rust that can be fixed. The first was on a neat little Morris flick into a dangerous spot that Danny didn’t reach, and the second came from a late Alex Roldan cross that passed right in front of him, needing only a toe to redirect into goal. 

Going forward: He has now delivered two solid appearances in a row after a number of busts, which may have been him getting into game shape. Which is the real Musovski will be an important question to answer, so Danny may need more looks. 

Paul Rothrock – 5 | Community – 4.4 (on 79’ for C. Roldan) 

Rothrock saw some time against LAG and was somewhat more active than prior matches. Although he only had 11 touches, he helped facilitate Sounders attacks with smart spacing. 

One thing I liked: A nice 89th minute combo brought Teves into the playmaker role and ended with an attempted cross. 

One thing I didn’t like: An 84th minute cross was rough, and he was 0/2 on his attempted entries into the box.

Going forward: Seattle desperately needs a spark off the bench and Paul has yet to bring that. 

Danny Leyva – 5 | Community – 5.2 (on 79’ for Ruidíaz) 

Removing an exhausted Ruidíaz created more space for Musovski and Morris to work and brought the cultured service of Danny Leyva onto the field in the 79th minute. 

One thing I liked: Leyva earned his own shot in the 85th minute, and completed all 11 of his pass attempts.

One thing I didn’t like: Seattle didn’t earn a single corner to let Danny display his excellent service from dead balls. 

Going forward: Leyva showed well in his time with others out hurt, but likely not enough to displace anyone in front of him. He will probably remain a late-game offensive change of pace. 

Dylan Teves – 5 | Community – 4.7 (on 85’ for Atencio)

Minute 85 saw Teves arrive and he brought some nifty combination play, nearly helping Seattle steal a point late. 

One thing I liked: Eight touches and 85 percent passing might not seem like much, but it was a few combination plays that were highlights for Dylan. The first came as he posted on the top of the box in the 89th minute, combining with Rothrock and then Alex Roldan to open the entire right of the field with smart movement. Even better was his dashing diagonal run in the 90th minute, recognizing the attack of Jordan Morris. His angled run pulled the defense apart, and he dropped a brilliant return pass to Morris near the penalty spot to create a massive chance. 

One thing I didn’t like: A 92nd minute cross was poor, ending up easily in the arms of the LAG goalkeeper. 

Going forward: Teves showed excellent speed of thought and movement in deft combinations with teammates. He hasn’t translated that into long term success but continues to be an excellent facilitator who fits in nicely with other dynamic play. 


Ismail Elfath – 6 | Community – 5.0

Seattle welcomed back the PRO referees with none other than Elfath, whose recent history with the Sounders has been gloomy at best. This time it wasn’t terrible, and the difference in a lot of the small things was readily apparent, but there were also some head-scratching calls that weren’t quite bad enough to get worked up about.

One thing I liked: Elfath kept the game moving and called a low number of fouls (18 total) by controlling the match well with communication and advantage play rather than by whistling and showing cards.

One thing I didn’t like: Morris clearly won a challenge in the 27th minute that was inexplicably called a foul, simply because it was against the opposing keeper. There were other small things like missed corner kick calls, inconsistency on a number of similar fouls, and general stuff that tends to get ignored because “it's not as bad as it can be.”

Going forward: This was an okay return to the “real” referees, but the frame of reference is still hard to analyze. 

LA Galaxy MOTM

Youthful newcomer Gabriel Pec was involved straight away, as he was gifted the only goal of the match by a befuddled Frei. It was a near-post effort at a very savable height, but as they say, you can’t score the shots you don’t shoot, or whatever. In the 39th, Pec had a sublime opportunity to double his tally after a clever Puig layoff, but his curled effort traveled wide. His second half was spent primarily drawing cards and helping his side see out the result.

Next up: Seattle invented must-win games in April.