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Realio’s Ratings: Sounders beat 11, not 12

Despite Morris’ game-winner, Seattle doesn’t win game.

Last Updated
11 min read
Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

In the first 80 minutes of the Seattle versus Vancouver match last weekend, the Sounders were dominant, scoring early, playing conservatively but controlling the game by removing Whitecaps chances, and looking to earn a well-deserved win. Watching the next 10 minutes, Seattle continued to control play, created enough offensively to threaten Vancouver, and seemed to have earned a penalty for their efforts. It wasn’t given, and you might have been annoyed at poor officiating but able to shrug it off as a bit of bad luck. Watching the last five minutes of the game, though, was absolutely brutal, as the poor officiating re-manifested itself in a horrific showing. Inconsistent application of the rules led to Whitecaps being gifted a penalty, a Sounder player given a red card, and ultimately Vancouver earned a free point while denying two for Seattle. The 1-1 final was a disgraceful result after a quality match. The Sounders could have done more to ensure the ref didn’t have an outsized impact, but they shouldn’t have had to. 

Two words: Stolen points.


Stefan Frei – 6 | Community – 6.4

Frei saved everything he was supposed to save, and outside of a penalty that shouldn’t have been an issue, earned a shutout. Credited with four saves, none of his body of work was particularly stressful, as Frei was mostly a voyeur of boring, safe passing from Seattle, accentuated by a few strong defensive actions limiting Vancouver from sniffing quality shots.

One thing I liked: Frei had a nice 11th minute save off a corner kick to limit the Whitecaps early. In the second half, with Vancouver barely able to scratch a tough Seattle defense, a long 73rd minute shot snuck through and Stefan did well to push it wide. 

One thing I didn’t like: Frei just does not save penalties, and it was a foregone conclusion when the ref called that silly PK that the game would be tied. 

Two words: Shutout robbed.


Nouhou – 6 | Community – 5.4 (off 90’+4’ red card)

Until extra time, Nouhou was having an absolutely fantastic game. His defense was frustrating Vancouver, he consistently connected passes with teammates, and his decision-making going forward was logical. He had 91 percent passing, two interceptions, two clearances, a tackle, and two headers won in 70 impactful touches. He had a great match until literally the last minutes. 

One thing I liked: Ryan Gauld, who usually plays like Messi against Seattle, was repeatedly shut down, and time and again Vancouver looked to their offensive right and were denied by strong defensive positioning, tackling, and 1-v-1 defense from Nouhou. Fafá Picault, a perennially strong individual attacker, was completely removed from the match by Nouhou as well. 

One thing I didn’t like: In order to see out the match, Nouhou needed to do two things. Both were closing down players better: first, a wide crossing option that netted him a yellow and offered Vancouver a dangerous free kick, and second, a shot from the top of the box that he lunged at. There is plenty of room for debate about the PK, but a little more control doing either of those actions and Seattle likely nets all three points. 

Two words: Unnecessary aggression.

Jackson Ragen – 6 | Community – 6.0

Ragen returned to his left-sided center back position and looked cleaner, maybe due to the higher skills of the parts around him. Ninety touches, 92 percent passing, and a controlled match allowed Jackson to showcase some smart, clean passing. He didn’t have a lot to do, but was workmanlike as part of a cohesive defensive effort. 

One thing I liked: His 1-v-1 defense in the 31st minute showcased excellent feet, as Ragen shut down any attack. A cheeky Cryuff turn in his own box in the 67th was a bit of style that, while maybe unnecessary, showed off how good Ragen can be in possession. 

One thing I didn’t like: Ragen is consistently given the latitude to press forward centrally on the dribble, and that leaves a very large gap in behind. This happened in the 28th minute, and he was lucky that his turnover wasn’t taken advantage of by Vancouver. 

Two words: Much better. 

Yeimar – 6 | Community – 6.1

Yeimar returned to a full match at center back and was an immediate upgrade over every iteration that didn’t include him. He had as many shots (two) as the starting center forward on the team, and paired that obscene statistic with a team-high four tackles defensively, consistently supporting a stout effort in the back. 

One thing I liked: Just having Yeimar back made the defense so much better, as he continually pocketed Brian White, removing the long diagonal runs that the Whitecaps striker has created so much danger from. 

One thing I didn’t like: For whatever reason, Yeimar flubs every so often, passing directly to the other team multiple times a game. A number in the first half (17th, 22nd) nearly led to quality chances for Vancouver before he locked it down after the break. 

Two words: Welcome back. 

Alex Roldan – 5 | Community – 5.5

Alex did a fine job defending against Vancouver, but that was about all he did. Although he had three tackles and three clearances, it was the complete lack of any offensive impetus that defined this effort, as Roldan provided zero shots, key passes, or support to a flagging offense. Seeing his lack of forward play and zero desire to push forward is concerning. 

One thing I liked: Alex had wonderful 1-v-1 defense in the 83rd minute to diffuse a quality opportunity, denying Vancouver any entrance into the area as part of a solid defensive outing. 

One thing I didn’t like: In the first half, Roldan wasn’t effective, with a poor cross in the 30th minute killing a chance and defensive errors in the 37th and 39th, including being badly beaten by Picault on a free kick. Since the team’s tactics need input from the right side, Alex's lack of offensive success is a glaring hole in nearly every match. If he isn’t going to produce, why is the team set up to get him touches? 

Two words: Offense needed.

Defensive Midfield

Cristian Roldan – 7 | Community – 6.1

Cristian started central and again showed his skill as a defensive midfielder, leading the team in touches with 110, dropping two key passes, and adding a shot in addition to seven recoveries and seven duels won. He had 93 percent passing in an excellent match connecting both ends of the field. 

One thing I liked: In the 9th minute he found a tricky through ball to an open Obed Vargas wide with some vision that has been lacking from central players, and this paid off as it jump-started the goal-scoring effort. He nearly scored off a 57th minute near-post header that another Sounder emulated later in the match. 

One thing I didn’t like: Cristian is still building into the central midfield position and gets better each match. An early turnover in the 16th minute led to a direct counter through the middle that he will learn from. He also missed a vertical Albert Rusnák run in the 42nd that showed plenty of room for improvement. 

Two words: New position? 

João Paulo – 7 | Community – 5.9 (off 76’ for PDLV)

JP improved in this match but also had some errors that seem to be creeping into his play lately. The stats show a strong overall match: Three key passes and a shot, and 93 percent completion on 98 touches to connect throughout the field. He paired this with three tackles, three interceptions, and two clearances as João was active all over the field before subbing off with a quarter of an hour to go.

One thing I liked: Multiple early corner kicks were to consistent areas, giving Seattle the semblance of set piece opportunity. During the goal-scoring sequence, JP put a shot on goal that hit a Whitecap arm, so clearly not a penalty, but luckily it bounced to Vargas and eventually to Morris to put away. João’s willingness to look vertically for Morris is a good tactic, and he attempted to do so in the 12th and 55th. 

One thing I didn’t like: In the 13th and 43rd, JP again showed shockingly bad defense. The second one led to a yellow card after he completely missed the man. A terrible 66th minute free kick was perhaps due to fatigue, and he was subbed out soon thereafter. 

Two words: Improved play.

Attacking Midfield

Jordan Morris – 7 (MOTM) | Community – 6.2

Morris started on the wing and was very active all night, continually pressing high and forcing Vancouver back. Jordan was pretty much the entire offense for long stretches, as Seattle failed to create much outside of the big chances he was a part of. His constant attack resulted in Seattle’s only goal. Jordan continued to make strong runs throughout, many of which were missed by teammates. 

One thing I liked: His runs were solid early, first attacking down the left in the 2nd minute and again following up on the back post in the 9th to finish a tumultuous attacking sequence. Another game-winning play came in the 80th minute as he completely destroyed a defender, rising above and winning a header down to the extended arm of an opponent for what should have been a PK. 

One thing I didn’t like: A breakaway chance in first half stoppage time was Morris against multiple players, but he couldn’t find the extra gear to push the ball past them and pressure the goal directly. 

Two words: Please repeat. 

Albert Rusnák – 5 | Community – 5.4 (off 88’ for Baker-Whiting)

Rusnák was solid with the ball against Vancouver, but only two key passes in 88 minutes of work is disappointing. He didn’t add defensive pressure or dynamic forward play, instead relying on a few dribbles to start plays. As usual, his control in tight areas was instrumental to the possession style of the Sounders. 

One thing I liked: A 16th minute direct dribble into the box showed a new desire to enter the penalty area, something that Seattle players seem scared to do. Another 59th minute dribble was excellent but Albert couldn’t find the finishing pass. 

One thing I didn’t like: Rusnák needed to pull the strings for teammates, not just control the ball centrally. This means finding the vertical run of Morris in the 19th (or ever) and seeing and connecting with the 42nd minute pass attempt to a flying Cristian Roldan, either of which could have been chances but instead were flubbed. 

Two words: Connection needed.

Obed Vargas – 5 | Community – 5.9

Obed again started on the right wing, a position that seems to be his to lose at this point. He started off strong, assimilating into the offense and helping push the Sounders to their excellent start. However, after the early pressure, he faded from the match, eventually moving back into the midfield where he wasn’t great. He had a shot, a key pass, and 82 percent completion on only 51 touches. 

One thing I liked: Early on, Vargas was active, winning multiple corners via forward pressing and surging down his wing. A 7th minute dribble 1-v-2 was great to see, when he rejected his former inclination to step on the ball and recycle possession, instead aggressively attacking the defense and making them react to him. On the goal scoring play, he put a first-time attempt on frame.

One thing I didn’t like: Vargas’ impact dwindled, and he didn’t produce for long stretches. Seattle obviously needs creative players who can make stuff happen, and outside of a few moments, Obed was largely invisible. His poor defending led to a 36th minute yellow card, and he has to find a way to be relevant in second halves. 

Two words: Impact needed. 


Raúl Ruidíaz – 4 | Community – 5.3 (off 88’ for Musovski)

Raúl played another 88 minutes and looked active for about half of them. He had 34 touches and turned that into two shots and a key pass. He struggled at being in the box to receive the ball or support attacks, and when dropping back centrally, wasn’t a great fulcrum for Seattle to pivot counter attacks from.

One thing I liked: Early on Raúl was busy, showing a 16th minute recovery on defense and nearly connecting on a 46th minute volley. We finally saw the near-post run he used to make with Morris in the 55th minute, and it created a chance. 

One thing I didn’t like: Time and again, Raúl killed any hope of transition play as his holdup and distribution were dismal. He over-dribbled for a turnover in the 24th and 31st, and stopped transition with a combination of poor control and bad decision-making five minutes later. Seattle desperately needed a central outlet to work transitory possession through quickly, and Ruidíaz repeatedly failed to be that outlet. 

Two words: Taking space.


Pedro de la Vega – 6 | Community – 6.8 (MOTM) (on 76’ for JP) 

Welcome back, Pedro! PDLV got back into his Sounders uniform, played the last 15 minutes of the match, and had an active nine touches that seemed to be many more. Credited with a single shot, he also completed 50 percent of his passes, as Pedro floated all over the field looking for opportunity, nearly scoring twice and showing a lot of energy during his short time on the field.

One thing I liked: Everything he did was goal direct, and the team critically needs people willing to push forward. Because of this, an active flick header off a cross in the 82nd and a cross of his own in the 98th both found the woodwork, showing more ability to get shots on target than anyone else on the team. 

One thing I didn’t like: A 79th minute turnover was a by-product of doing a bit too much, and Seattle will have to adjust to his defensive style, which is more a concept than a reality. 

Two words: Save us. 

Danny Musovski – 5 | Community – 5.1 (on 88’ for Ruidíaz)

Somehow Ruidíaz got 88 minutes in this match and was only replaced by Musovski near the tail end of the game to kill it off. This didn’t work in any fashion, with Danny having two touches. 

One thing I liked: Late in the match he passed the ball to PDLV in the box and got out of the way, and the Sounders’ newest addition nearly scored an impossible shross. 

One thing I didn’t like: With just a few minutes to play, Munsovski offered little to support a team that was holding on. 

Two words: Too late. 

Reed Baker-Whiting – 5 | Community – 5.0 (on 88’ for Rusnák)

Reed again saw the field for a few minutes as he worked back into the Sounders plans. He won a header and helped see out what should have been a win.

One thing I liked: Holding on late, RBW had two clearances, a large part of his five total touches. 

One thing I didn’t like: Brought in to ostensibly defend the right, his defense didn’t astound. 

Two words: Unknown potential.


Victor Rivas – 4 | Community – 2.6

Victor Rivas started this game out fine, calling logical things. He may have missed an early yellow for a Whitecap delaying Frei's attempt to punt a ball out, and there were some late whistles. The cards made sense and the play was fluid. Then, abruptly, with the pressure of the match mounting, the refereeing team stepped in and put their mark on the match, insinuating their own subjective viewpoint and altering the entire match. 

One thing I liked: Advantage calls in the 35th and 41st minute were followed by a 43rd minute delayed yellow card where the ref correctly returned to produce the card after the play ended. 

One thing I didn’t like: A missed call in the 39th when Morris challenged for a header and was ridiculously called for a foul was the fault of the center ref. It’s hard to know what the entire ref team was thinking in the 81st minute when they did not review Vancouver’s blatant handball. It’s easy to know what they were thinking in the 92nd minute when they did the opposite with Nouhou, and that is to ref the score and make the game about themselves. In a vacuum, the call is still debatable as a foul, but in light of the previous precedent set moments before, it's a completely wrong interpretation of the rules. The massive lack of consistency is soul crushing. 

Two words: Absolutely embarrassing.

Vancouver Whitecaps MOTM

Gauld had his usual stellar performance versus the Sounders. Early on, it was his set piece delivery creating rare opportunities for the Whitecaps, first via a corner in the 11th, then a free kick in the 37th dropped onto the dome of an unmarked Fafá Picault of all people. Other than that, you know, the game-tying penalty or whatever.

Next up: The Fighting Andrew Thomases take on Phoenix in the Open Cup.