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Realio's Ratings: Sounders' Open Cup run flipping the script

Kid Kalani’s late heroics see Seattle through.

Last Updated
6 min read
Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

The entertainment value of the US Open Cup remains a high point in the Sounders’ season, as Wednesday night Seattle beat Phoenix Rising FC 2-1. A back-and-forth first half saw a number of solid opportunities for both sides, with the biggest (and only) success by Phoenix as they turned a penalty kick into a halftime lead. After some quality tactical adjustments and a palpable increase in energy, the second half was nearly all one-way traffic by the Sounders towards the Rising goal, forcing an equalizing penalty followed by a late winner. While not always cohesive, this fast-paced, pressing, vertical style was a breath of fresh air after the plodding soccer of many of the MLS matches, and the open track meet fluidity of the game was exciting to watch. Seattle ended with 24 shots, and they limited Phoenix to two shots on goal. 

Glass half full: Seattle is now three games away from winning their fifth Open Cup. They show that the vaunted Sounders depth is indeed there, and it can do enough to win matches. 

Glass half empty: Playing substantially lower level competition, Seattle has led in only three of their last 121 minutes of Open Cup soccer. 

Note: For these ratings I’ll focus on a number for each player, and glass half full and half empty comments for each.


Andrew Thomas – 6

Glass half full: Thomas’ strong saves kept Phoenix off the scoresheet from open play. He continues to exhibit great shot-stopping and decision-making in the back, including an audacious 16th minute header to clear a breakaway. 

Glass half empty: When under pressure, Thomas tends to just boot it. That might be the right answer, but this lack of composure combined with his massive boot meant he often kicked the ball to the opposing keeper. 


Nouhou – 6

Glass half full: Playing against lesser opponents, Nouhou stood out as MLS level quality, repeatedly intercepting passes and pushing forward using his physical skills to consistently drive the offense into the attacking third. 

Glass half empty: In a wacky tournament with a wacky environment, Nouhou did some crazy things, such as a brilliant dribble spin move. The success of such things led to a questionable chest pass to the opposition inside his own box as the ‘Hou was too high on his own supply. 

Jon Bell – 5 (off 45’+2’ for Ragen)

Glass half full: Bell showed that he’s a solid defensive player, and had some excellent connection with Nouhou on the left in coordinated possession. He is a valuable defensive depth piece.

Glass half empty: Yet another Sounder hamstring injury likely ruins any chance Jon has at pushing for more MLS minutes. 

Stuart Hawkins – 5

Glass half full: Again paired with various MLS-caliber center backs, Hawkins looked the part, able to do the physical things needed in the back and coordinate possession through clean passing. 

Glass half empty: He’s still a far cry from the guy he was next to in the second half, as Stuart showed talent, but not MLS readiness. His positioning was rough at times, and again his penchant for big plays often came after his own mistakes. 

Kalani Kossa-Rienzi – 7 (MOTM)

Glass half full: A physical dynamo, Kalani’s athleticism is readily apparent in his play as well as the backflip ability. His top level agility, balance, and ability to navigate crowds led directly to his game-winning goal. His composure in the box and self confidence is not easily taught. 

Glass half empty: For all the physical gifts, there is no definite soccer position that fits KKR’s skillset. His poor defensive positioning and 1-v-1 defense didn’t fit well at fullback, and he doesn’t yet have the vision and touch to consistently contribute farther up the field. 

Defensive Midfield

Cristian Roldan – 6 (off 62’ for Alex Roldan)

Glass half full: Cristian wasn’t hurt, and he showed in the 43rd minute that his forward vision and ability to create from the defensive central midfield is elite, finding an incredible pass to Danny Musovski that cut out 10 players from the opponent’s defense. 

Glass half empty: With an important MLS match in three days, needing to play one of your most important starters in an Open Cup match is rough. 

Danny Leyva – 5

Glass half full: Perhaps the best ball deliverer on the team, Leyva nearly scored an Olimpico on the first Sounders corner kick. He had multiple slick offensive passes to open up space, consistently looking forward and pushing the team direct in connective play. 

Glass half empty: A horrible tackle that gifted a PK to a lesser team is exactly why Danny can’t get much MLS time. His defensive footwork and speed are underwhelming, and he doesn’t have the instincts to make up for these deficiencies. 

Attacking Midfield

Paul Rothrock – 5 (off 86’ for Baker)

Glass half full: Like his MLS appearances, Paul just took up space and didn’t do anything horribly bad. 

Glass half empty: Like his MLS appearances, Paul just took up space and didn’t do anything notably good. 

Dylan Teves – 5 (off 62’ for Brunell)

Glass half full: An energetic midfielder whose scrappy pressure created problems all evening for Phoenix, Teves was an essential part of a tireless second half press. 

Glass half empty: Plenty of MLS players have energy and a more refined product, higher upside, and at least one defining high ceiling attribute, and generalists are not in demand. 

Georgi Minoungou – 6 

Glass half full: Georgi consistently made defenders look silly, and especially in the second half, his ability to beat one, two, and even three opponents at a time was incredibly impressive. Being impossible to guard is an MLS-ready trait. 

Glass half empty: As incredible as his dribbling and separation ability were, it was equally mind-blowing to see him then make the wrong touch, pass, or decision, turning massive personal success into team failure. 


Danny Musovski – 4

Glass half full: Musovski worked tirelessly to get into scoring spaces, almost always being a forward option for teammates to find. He made a great decision at the end to head on to KKR in the box. 

Glass half empty: When presented with three massive chances to score, a quality striker would score (or assist on) at least one of them. Danny didn’t score on any of his opportunities, remaining a net negative for the team and at best a late bench option. 


Jackson Ragen – 5 (on 45’+2’ for Bell)

Glass half full: Ragen showed why he is an MLS starter, controlling play in the back. His composure and passing were a big part of Seattle’s second half dominance.

Glass half empty: His positioning after coming in was immediately victimized, supporting the attack that Phoenix earned their PK on. Having to play Jackson was a risk. 

Alex Roldan – 6 (on 62’ for Cristian Roldan)

Glass half full: Alex had much more impact in the center than he has had all year at wide defense. He looked great connecting and attacking through the middle, leading to forcing a PK and then converting it himself. 

Glass half empty: Being excellent in a different position against a lower level of competition is not a glowing accolade for Alex, and it won’t matter much if he goes back to being a boring right back this weekend. 

Snyder Brunell – 5 (on 62’ for Teves)

Glass half full: Brunell’s sneaky clean touch and connectivity with teammates belies his youthful age. He has excellent vision and an ability to support and move where he is needed tactically. 

Glass half empty: Is Snyder another glue guy to be forced wide, then back, eventually being traded to Nashville for a draft pick?

Cody Baker – 4 (on 86’ for Rothrock)

Glass half full: Baker came in as a right back and this pushed KKR forward to do cool flippy stuff.

Glass half empty: Completing zero passes, going 1/2 on duels, and committing a foul was a pretty uninspiring line for someone who’s likely in the discussion to start this weekend. 


Lukasz Szpala – 7

Glass half full: The ref wasn’t a big part of the match, existing for most of the game outside the need to blow his whistle, while correctly calling two penalties. 

Glass half empty: Whistling for penalties correctly would never fly in MLS play.

Next up glass half full: Last time we won in this tournament, we carried the momentum into a weekend MLS away win.

Glass really full: We could actually win the Open Cup. 

Next up glass half empty: Continuing to win in the Open Cup risks giving Seattle more opportunity for player injuries, more fixture congestion, and some brief season hope to be extinguished by a crummy ref call in the LAFC game or a PK loss to SKC, à la 2012. (Salazaaar!)