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Realio’s Ratings: Hot take edition

Takes only slightly warmer than on-field action!

Last Updated
13 min read
Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

The away victory in Philly was exciting, but I didn’t think those goals were repeatable. Boy, did that prove out at home against the LA Galaxy last Sunday. The 0-0 final score marked the second time Seattle has failed to score against the Galaxy, a team which has given up nearly two goals per game in every non-Sounder match this year. In this one, Seattle accumulated many chances and had an insane 45 touches in the LAG penalty area, but they only managed to get five shots on frame. A youth substitute wave made the game more interesting late, as they created some of the best chances of the afternoon. Seattle’s team shape was a work in progress, and they don’t have enough talent to “brute force” matches anymore, leaving us with another disjointed effort. This season is frustrating because on any given week they can be either great or terrible. 

Hot take: Previous Sounders teams were able to “just win,” either from team cohesion, individual brilliance, creativity, persistence, or whatever. This team sometimes has some of that, but it’s missing the consistency and top-end star power to turn mediocre results into good ones, and the set piece ability to capitalize on bunker defenses that allow 12 corners. 


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

Frei wasn’t tested much against LA, as for most of the game the away team didn’t appear to be playing for all three points. He was credited with three saves, only one of which was particularly noteworthy. He was tasked with quite a few touches around the back (35) and did as well as he could to help Seattle’s plodding possession choices. 

What I liked: A 76th minute save was Frei’s best moment, and it kept the shutout. Covering the near post, he moved quickly to the back as a looping cross found Diego Fagúndez, who put his two-touch volley on frame, only to be parried over by Stef. 

What I didn’t like: The gamestate awareness of this team is abysmal sometimes. It’s ulcer-inducing to see them force a pass back across goal to Frei under pressure and wondering if he’s going to fumble it away with his feet. 

Hot take: Although Frei is getting 0-0 shutouts, the new hotness is 3-2 road wins where you hang on by the seat of your pants. 


Nouhou – 6 | Community – 5.9

The always controversial Nouhou had an excellent game against LA, matching up well with their wide attackers for speed and physicality, and playing stellar defensively. He added some quality moments going forward, co-leading the team with two key passes and completing the third-most progressive passes. He added 91 percent passing and a dozen defensive actions. 

What I liked: LAG came in with a vaunted pair of wingers in Gabriel Pec and Joseph Paintsil. Both were Nou-tralized. There were very few transition moments for a Galaxy attack that clearly wanted to counter attack, but often were turned away before anything could happen due to quality defensive marking. 

What I didn’t like: Raúl Ruidíaz stepping aside so Nouhou could be on the ball in the box is a pretty damning indictment of the team’s attack as a whole. Nouhou refusing to play Jordan Morris forward into space, which might force Jordan to be aggressive, is another. 

Hot take: Nouhou must have stolen art supplies from a baby kangaroo cause he had Joey Paints in his pocket all night long.

Jackson Ragen – 5 | Community – 5.4

Ragen had an up and down match. Again tasked with distributing from the back, he seemed slower and less likely to attempt aggressive passes, which added to the general offensive malaise. He had 82 touches and 92 percent passing. His game-high six aerials were high quality. This was the story of the match: Seattle holding the ball in the back and struggling to get forward before LA rebuilt their compact defensive shape. 

What I liked: Jackson was credited with four out of seven long balls completed, and just pushing the ball from the backline to the opposing third was often a success, as Seattle created opportunity through gobbling up second balls. This also forced LA from their comfort zone of “sit and wait for Seattle to shoot into the stands.” 

What I didn’t like: In the 55th minute with plenty of options literally anywhere else, Ragen tried a cute outside of the right foot pass across the middle to Josh Atencio who then had to combine with the alert Yeimar to shut down a 3-v-2 gifted to Fagúndez. 

Hot take: Ragen should spend less time on social media addressing his red card and concentrate on limiting the massive chances he’s giving away nearly every week. 

Yeimar – 7 | Community – 5.8 (off 86’ for Baker-Whiting)

Again, Yeimar was a standout defensively for the Sounders, compiling two tackles, two interceptions, six clearances, and completing 87 percent of his passes. Working with the elder Roldan, Yeimar stepped into the wide attack at times, pushing Cristian forward and allowing him to overlap the Vargas Zone. 

What I liked: In the 10th minute his aggression won possession and a quick counter-attacking shot. Yeimar stepped up well and combined with Cristian Roldan to consistently control possession down their wing. 

What I didn’t like: Seeing the best defender on the team go down with an injury, clutch his leg, and be immediately subbed off is about par for this season’s course. Prior to that he had a bad pass in the 29th minute that killed one of the better Sounder buildups. 

Hot take: He was hurt just before Brian was going to send him up to forward, where he would have been our best attacker. 

Cristian Roldan – 6 | Community – 5.8

Cristian got another start at the right back position and looked stellar. His ability to control the ball and produce the possession and attack on the right looked similar to his brother’s. Getting more acclimated to Obed is a clear upgrade need, as at times these two seemed on different pages. He had one key pass among his team-high 87 touches. 

What I liked: His 16 progressive passes led the team in attempts and showed an understanding of how the team needed to push their tempo forward. Cristian looked excellent when moved to the middle late, showing the ability to play centrally and distribute from the deep-lying defensive areas that he was patrolling. 

What I didn’t like: Cristian missed multiple chances in the first 10 minutes to strike on goal or deliver a cross into a dangerous area, and he again took a long time to get “warmed up” in the match, which has been an issue all season. Any role that puts his head in more likely physical contact is worrying. 

Hot take: Cristian is the best right back on the team. 

Defensive Midfield

Josh Atencio – 6 | Community – 5.8 (off 57’ for Musovski)

Perhaps surprisingly, Atencio was subbed early in the second half against LA. Prior to this he was having an excellent match. Atencio won six aerials and is perpetually underrated for the size and physicality he adds, especially when compared to some of the shorter Sounders. Although he subbed out early, he still led the team with three shots, added a key pass, and had three tackles, three interceptions, and a clearance in a busy afternoon. 

What I liked: Josh did all the little things centrally that were essential to success on both ends of the field. He continually pressed and doubled defensively wide, creating turnovers for Seattle to counter with. When he had space, Atencio dribbled aggressively through the middle and found outlets, such as wide to Roldan in the 6th minute on a strong offensive sequence. 

What I didn’t like: Atencio’s game is strong, but boring. He relies on a high floor but needs to find a higher ceiling for a team that desperately needs someone to be creative. There are times in each match where he gets into great spots due to his insanely strong work rate and endurance, but then chooses the second or third best option, or sends the ball out of reach. 

Hot take: Atencio is playing better than JP right now. 

João Paulo – 6 | Community – 6.2 (off 74’ for Baker)

This was a quiet performance for JP, who nonetheless led the team with three shots, added two key passes on 89 percent passing, and had the second-most touches on the team. Through all that, João was the linkup player centrally, finding teammates and moving the ball up the field when able. 

What I liked: A fantastic set piece went direct in the 64th minute and forced a save from the alert LAG keeper. 

What I didn’t like: JP is back to starting and doing his normal thing, but he’s struggling to create those big moments that we hoped were coming. His defense is fine, but the cohesion with the offense, the springing teammates into good spots, and the long distance shots (on frame!) are still missing. 

Hot take: JP isn’t yet healthy. 

Attacking Midfield

Jordan Morris – 5 | Community – 4.3 (off 86’ for Minoungou)

Morris started on the left and spent much of the match starved for service. The rest of the time, he struggled to turn the possession he did have into quality attacks, often looking reluctant to play with aggression. He put both his shots on target, had a key pass, and was active defensively with two tackles and two clearances. 

What I liked: Morris continually made good runs and nearly got on the end of a JP over-the-top ball in the 67th minute, as he attempted to stretch the field. Jordan also won a surprising number of 50/50 balls, turning long service into possession through holdup play and quality control on the width. 

What I didn’t like: Jordan has a terrible connection with Raúl when he plays “behind” him, and they continually appear to get into each other’s way. Or, as is often the case, Morris gets forward with everyone else lagging behind. It’s these moments when he needs more killer instinct to just beat his man and score, but he often retreats and keeps possession as the rest of the team catches up. 

Hot take: He should play forward and the team should counter attack into the space he opens up. 

Albert Rusnák – 5 | Community – 5.1 (off 74’ for Chú)

Rusnák was just okay against LA, struggling to multiply weak forces. He had three shots, but didn’t get any on frame, and while his 88 percent passing was good, his only dangerous creation came from set pieces. He struggled to do anything when compacted into space with Raúl. 

What I liked: Albert’s best impact was on set pieces. They weren’t all great, but there were enough of them that he had a few good ones from many opportunities. 

What I didn’t like: This was an uncharacteristic outing for Rusnák, who seemed off his game. Multiple missed passes, some control issues, and a general lack of influence seemed to plague Albert. 

Hot take: PDLV was signed to replace him, not the left winger. 

Obed Vargas – 7 | Community – 6.5

Vargas got a start at the right wing and again looked excellent, controlling the ball and consistently turning vertical to attack. The hesitancy in his game prior to the last few matches was gone, as Obed often probed the LAG backline with direct play. He had a shot and a key pass and led the team with five tackles. 

What I liked: Is this enough consistency to expect this level of play from Vargas every match? This is three matches in a row where Obed has looked completely transformed, attacking space and displaying aggressive, dynamic play. Coupled with his incredible touch, he looks like a completely new player. His offensive play is exciting, but Obed’s crucial midfield tackle in the 44th minute likely saved a goal. 

What I didn’t like: Although Obed has looked good on the wing, Seattle’s shape when he was out there was compacted, as he drifted internally a lot. This helped control and overwhelm the middle, but after the first 10 minutes he tended to ignore the width and overlapping into the corner was intermittent at best. 

Hot take: The real question is, how do new rookies like PDLV integrate with known star veterans like Obed Vargas?


Raúl Ruidíaz – 5 | Community – 5.4

Raúl again started and went 90 minutes. He was active (50 touches) but again fairly ineffective, especially falling off late and struggling to impact the goal either directly or by combining with teammates. He had three shots and two key passes. 

What I liked: Raúl surprisingly took a few set pieces, which seems odd as a striker. However, he had an excellent corner in the 4th minute and had both of his key passes from one of Seattle’s ridiculous 12 corner kicks. 

What I didn’t like: Seattle tried to switch to a more direct style late, but the diminutive Ruidíaz didn’t fit into that, not being a particularly good target for crosses or combiner in tight spaces. Raúl’s attacking was bad — forcing impossible shots into defenders, missing teammate runs, and squandering big chances in embarrassing fashion, like a 79th minute shot that nearly went out for a throw. 

Hot take: This is all Lodeiro’s fault. If he was still on the team, he’d take PKs and Raúl would be a supersub without the PK-inflated goal total. 


Danny Musovski – 5 | Community – 5.1 (on 57‘ for Atencio)

Danny subbing on wasn’t surprising, but taking off Atencio to install Musovski on the wing was a head scratcher. He acquitted himself well as a sort of wide striker, earning two shots, completing all his passes, and being part of the best opportunities for Seattle. 

What I liked: Musovski consistently makes smart backside runs, and he’s almost always a dangerous option on the far post. He had some of the best chances of the entire match. 

What I didn’t like: Danny flubbed those great chances his movement earned him, with an especially egregious miss in the 91st minute that could have been a diving header, a volley, or a whiff with an opponent getting the ball. You guess which it was.

Hot take: Musovski should be a sub at forward only. 

Léo Chú – 5 | Community – 4.4 (on 74’ for Rusnák)

Chú looked lost on the right, constantly shading central or even worse, just standing there. He had seven touches and a shot, getting into some good areas but looking redundant to other options on the field. 

What I liked: Even as ineffective as he seemed to be, Chú still found an open shot in his short time. When he shaded inside he opened up the wide overlap areas for Cody Baker. 

What I didn’t like: In the 78th minute, Chú drifted into the right spot in space inside the LAG box and the ball found him after Morris and Vargas combined. With an unobstructed view of the goal from 12 yards out, Leo sent the ball to the kids who sang the anthem. 

Hot take: Giving him more than 15 minutes and in a position he can play seems like a better idea. 

Cody Baker – 5 | Community – 5.4 (on 74’ for JP)

Cody Baker was part of the youth movement subbed in, and the young, attack-minded players arrived with gusto. Cody had 11 touches and was effective on the offensive side of the ball. 

What I liked: Two key passes in limited time was the most production from the right back position in quite some time, and showed that Cody can deliver a nice ball from the width. His 91st minute cross to Musovski should have been his second assist of the year. 

What I didn’t like: The defensive part of his play is still a work in progress, as Baker took some bad angles. It’s hard to fault him, as the tactical lineup was all throttle by the time he got in. 

Hot take: Baker was in line for Alex’s minutes when Cristian swooped in and took them. 

Georgi Minoungou – 5 | Community – 6.0 (on 86’ for Morris)

I hadn’t even noticed Georgi was on the lineup sheet until he subbed in, and this Tacoma Defiance player’s performance was a pleasant surprise. He had nine touches and only completed 50 percent of his passes, but he was direct, goal dangerous, and showed no fear in his first Sounders appearance. 

What I liked: The GM was wheelin’ and dealin’, driving at and past defenders and creating beautiful havoc, nearly assisting on multiple plays where he juked a defender and quickly raced toward the box before finding a dangerous area to put the ball. 

What I didn’t like: Exciting on both ends of the field, Minoungou’s silly late foul gave the beleaguered and uninterested LA offense a free set piece to nearly steal a win. 

Hot take: We’ve seen this before from other young wingers. 

Reed Baker-Whiting – 5 | Community – 5.5 (on 86’ for Yeimar)

Finally returning from the injury, it was nice to see Reed back on the field. He slotted in as a wide attacking fullback and had 18 clean touches, completing 80 percent and getting a short run out. 

What I liked: Just seeing RBW and other young players out there holding their own was great. Reed physically demolishing a Galaxy player and looking none the worse for wear, also great. 

What I didn’t like: With a chance to live up to some of the hype, his cross in the 92nd was dismal, and killed another promising Sounders opportunity. 

Hot take: Reed plays winger in the 3-5-2 that is incoming this summer. 


Drew Fischer – 7 | Community – 5.7

Referee Fischer was notable for his few notable calls. A well-refereed match included solid advantage calls, no massive VAR problems, a total of 20 fouls and three yellow cards given. The game was rather boring, which isn’t great from a fan perspective but is good for refereeing. There were very few big moments that required adjudication. 

What I liked: The consistency was nice, and even though the away team may have felt hard done by an early potential red card, a similar call was made when a Seattle player did the fouling later in the match. 

What I didn’t like: Paintsil should have been sent off in the 81st, as it was easily his second yellow cardable offense. An early foul against Nouhou was close to, if not worse than, the one that saw Ragen ejected from the Vancouver match. Another issue was the rather egregious time wasting that LA employed, without penalty. 

Hot take: Seattle is usually better when the referees call it tight, because they consistently foul less than their opponents. However, the Sounders are better off with more “play on,” since their set pieces aren’t resulting in goals. 

LA Galaxy MOTM

Just like your Sounders, it was LA’s keeper who earned the MOTM award in a shutout draw. McCarthy had four saves over the course of the match, ranging from simple (Morris’ header in the 38th) to semi-spicy (João Paulo’s free kick in the 63rd). He was helped repeatedly by a defense that blocked eight attempts, and by the Sounders themselves, who repeatedly skied their efforts.

Next up: Midweek game in the US Open Cup, then down to Portland on Sunday afternoon.