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Realio’s Ratings: The kids are alright

Come for Obed Vargas’ revolutionary performance, stay for another youngster’s expert analysis.

Last Updated
8 min read
Bill Streicher - USA TODAY Sports

Writing about a Seattle win is weird. This season has been a slog. Ratings will be briefer today and include my son Ellis’s expert analysis in lieu of some of my own. See you next week.

Seattle went to Philly, again, to play the remainder of a match that should never have been started in the first place. The weird lineup issues and sub rules associated with re-starting a match six minutes old added to the odd feeling as the rare Tuesday afternoon match was wild. Utilizing dynamic spacing and tactical pressing, the Sounders raced to an improbable 3-0 lead and carried that massive advantage into half. With the addition of more of their usual starters after the break, Philadelphia Union managed to score twice within minutes, and nearly leveled the match, but Seattle held on. A 3-2 final meant that the Sounders won away against one of the best teams in the league. While not a comprehensive win, there were some exciting developments and learning moments that could lead this team to achieve the quality of play that many expected before this season started. 

Ellis’ game analysis: I don’t think anyone did that bad. Philadelphia just lost their first game to RSL and now lost to Seattle! But this game really came before, so it was their first loss. 


Andrew Thomas – 6 | Community – 6.5

How he did: Thomas reminded everyone how good he is at reaction saves. He made a few late in the first half, ensuring a 3-0 lead into halftime, and he made another essential stop in the 88th to solidify the win. His passing wasn’t great and positioning could use some work. 

Ellis’ thoughts: He was fine. He had some good saves but gave up some goals, too. Baba liked his mustache. 


Nouhou – 5 | Community – 5.7

How he did: This was one of Nouhou’s worst defensive matches. However, outside of not closing down the shot quickly enough on the first goal, he wasn’t directly penalized for his transgressions. A magical pass to Cristian Roldan nearly put the game away at one point, but this was likely forgotten in a second half where Nouhou struggled to support a defense that was under duress and in danger of nullifying a three goal lead. 

Ellis’ thoughts: He kinda struggled. I dunno. 

Jackson Ragen – 6 | Community – 5.5

How he did: His passing was abysmal, which was odd for such a quality distributor. Ragen hasn't played great this season and was just okay in this one. He almost scored off a corner kick, one of a handful of “almosts” that he's had this year. I was disappointed to see him charge forward and take an awkward yellow card similar to the last match, showing little growth or desire to adjust his play, especially in the game state with Seattle dominating. 

Ellis’ thoughts: He was fine, too. He had some good defense and the goalie stopped him once. Wasn’t Arreaga supposed to start this game?

Yeimar – 6 | Community – 6.1

How he did: Yeimar was excellent. He had to be to keep Seattle in the match as they were under considerable pressure for much of the second half. He badly misjudged the second goal and had other times where he seemed slow to defend, but consistently cleared away most of the Philadelphia almost-chances. 

Ellis’ thoughts: I dunno. He was okay. He’s big and tall. 

Alex Roldan – 6 | Community – 5.7

How he did: Alex was back from a very rough start and played consistently, had the most touches on the team, and did well to support a match that tended to get stretched both ways. While not adding much to the offense, he also wasn’t a direct detriment to the defense, which was nice. At least one counter attack could have been so much more dangerous had Roldan not correctly shut down multiple players, and his ability to play central on set pieces and limit breakouts has been essential at times this season. 

Ellis’ thoughts: He didn’t really impress me that much, but I think he did okay in the game. He should pass to Raúl. 

Defensive Midfield

Obed Vargas – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 7.7 (MOTM)

How he did: This version of Obed Vargas was revolutionary. Attack minded, direct, and controlled, Vargas was the best player on the field in the first half, which included an absolute rocket for his first goal as a Sounder. The sudden confidence in his mature technical ability has allowed him lately to lean into his skills, and when he does that, he shows he's better than a lot of guys in this league. Putting it all together is still the goal, but holy moly, this confident player who attacks defenders and scores, wins penalties, and creates attacking space with the dribble and dynamic passing is an absolute joy to watch. We’ve seen glimpses, which is part of why it's been so frustrating to be patient with his development, but if this match was Obed’s introduction to him putting it all together, watch out!

Ellis’ thoughts: He did really good! He hit that shot in the corner like “pow.” I think he was probably Man of the Match. 

Josh Atencio – 6 | Community – 6.9

How he did: Atencio did a lot of the small things well, supporting the vertical play, defending, connecting passes, and enabling the success of others, but faltered in a few memorable moments. His decision making and passing on breakout moments failed him on multiple occasions as he wasn’t able to connect the killer pass or choose the right play. Some of this may be fatigue-related, as his field coverage remained very high. It was great to see him muster the effort to help leverage his size and physicality to turn away some last ditch Union attempts. 

Ellis’ thoughts: Atencio did pretty well. He has the same number as me, so he might be the best.

Attacking Midfield

Léo Chú – 5 | Community – 5.8 (off 59’ for Rusnák)

How he did: Chú definitely helped the Seattle shape, pulling defenders wide and creating smart space for Roldan and the invigorated Vargas to occupy on the offensive end, but he didn't have much personal success before being subbed out. The Sounders need a direct goal threat from each wing, and although they scored three, none are likely as repeatable as Chú’s DC goal, and he will need to contribute more to continue playing as others regain fitness. His removal marked a drastic improvement to Seattle’s play, which may or may not be correlated. 

Ellis’ thoughts: He was fine. He wasn’t really in the game much. 

Cristian Roldan – 6 | Community – 6.3

How he did: Roldan looked solid as an attacking midfielder in the center, connecting to others and helping keep Seattle’s middle defensively solid. This forced the Union down the wings and helped Sounders maintain a strong core, but as Cristian tired, the team struggled to maintain possession. For much of the second half he was visibly exhausted, and it showed up in some sloppy passes and missed movement. 

Ellis’ thoughts: He did fine, too. I think he was tired. He’s sorta my favorite because he was nice to me when we met. 

Jordan Morris – 6 | Community – 5.7 (off 91’ for Rothrock)

How he did: Morris did a lot of stuff well, and showed that he can play interchangeably on either wing. His movement was excellent, spurring Seattle into great spots from which they (for once) were able to create good chances. He was much less effective in the second half as he too was visibly tired, walking often after moving to a forward position. He missed another open header, adding to a disappointing year on that end. 

Ellis’ thoughts: I guess pretty well. His runs were good but he was tired from running so fast. He kinda runs funny. (Makes “hunched over” run in the kitchen.)


Raúl Ruidíaz – 7 | Community – 7.5 (off 84’ for Baker)

How he did: Raúl did the most Raúl thing and scored early in this match from near midfield. After scoring in the first fifteen minutes, he also tucked away a first half penalty that gave Seattle a 3-0 cushion they were unable to squander. He was very active before halftime and very inactive after, leading to his substitution. Ruidíaz as a distributor isn’t great, but he does have that killer instinct that in this match was the exact thing we needed. 

Ellis’ thoughts: I think he did really good. He scored a penalty and that one from way far out. I don’t think I could kick it that far. We should practice.

Bonus Emery comment: Ohhh yeah, I think he’s really good. He’s not very tall, though. 


Albert Rusnák – 6 | Community – 6.2 (on 59‘ for Chú)

How he did: Seattle desperately needed someone, anyone, to take leadership and control the ball, and let them regain their breath and composure after conceding twice in minutes. Rusnák was that guy and he provided a calming presence. He wasn’t perfect, but he helped to regain some control before the Sounders blew a winnable game. 

Ellis’ thoughts: He slowed the ball down and helped the team. Rusnák always traps the ball to his feet. I’m probably not better than him.

Cody Baker – 5 | Community – 5.6 (on 84‘ for Ruidíaz)

How he did: Baker came on and wasn’t very good, although he didn’t have the ball much. A lot of his work was done on the defensive end, and his inability to close out wide players and connect defensively with a struggling back line was rough. Brought in to lock down the last ten minutes of the match, he was lucky that the post saved him at least once. 

Ellis’ thoughts: He was beat a few times. He didn’t come in ‘til later. 

Paul Rothrock– 5 | Community – 5.3 (on 91’ for Morris)

How he did: Rothrock entered very late and wasn’t able to do much on the field. He had two touches and added some athleticism in a desperate last few minutes as Seattle held on. 

Ellis’ thoughts: I don’t think he played?


Joseph Dickerson – 6 | Community – 5.9

How he did: Dickerson was fairly generous to Seattle, first ignoring a high elbow from Obed, giving the young Sounder a PK, and later denying Philly what looked like a close PK shout of their own. Seattle took full advantage, although they nearly squandered their lead in a ridiculous nine minutes of extra time to end the first half. More cards could have better managed a physical match. Cristian again got thrashed; at least one studs-to-the-leg was similar enough to Ragen’s two matches back to make you roll your eyes. 

Ellis’ thoughts: I guess fine. We had a ref for my game last week but not the week before. I only sorta like it when I have refs for my games. 

Philadelphia Union MOTM

Although Gazdag made the pass that led to Seattle’s long-range opener, he was also prominently involved in his team’s furious attempt at a comeback. He hinted at what was to come at the end of the first half, forcing Thomas into a key save off his line. Then, in the 57th minute, he dove into the box, splitting Yeimar and Alex to head home Philly’s second and set up a nervy final half hour for the Sounders. (Oh, and he thought he had tied the match a mere nine minutes later, but was thankfully offside.)

Editor’s Note: Ellis could not be reached for comment regarding Gazdag’s performance as he is currently in class.

Next up: Momentum? What’s that? Guess we find out Sunday.