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Realio’s Ratings: Vibe check

While not yet immaculate, the vibes certainly aren’t so dire.

Last Updated
12 min read
Max Aquino / Sounder at Heart

Seattle invited 50 years of past history into Lumen Field on Saturday. Then they did the opposite of recent history by playing exciting, attacking, comprehensive soccer and thrashing Minnesota United. The final score was 2-0, but it wasn’t as close as that because a suffocating defense easily procured a shutout and a big-play offense created multiple explosive, repeatable chances, inspiring hope for the future. Starting with a tactical change to add more direct play and speed to the wings and masterfully coaching through an unfortunate injury, Seattle played on the front foot the majority of the match. Perhaps most encouraging: the team executed on their chances and then kept the pressure on, ending the match in total control, a complete match that has been elusive so far in 2024. Against Minnesota, multiple players were allowed to flourish with more space and movement, and they rewarded the fans with a fantastic result that they should be able to build on.

Vibes: Tipping point? 


Stefan Frei – 6 | Community – 6.1

After a shambolic and frankly embarrassing match a week prior, Frei of course came back with a shutout, and Seattle’s defense was back to normal. The Sounders utterly dominated to the point Stefan had little to do. Frei ended with zero recorded saves, in a night where we were reminded who this defense can be when given some breathing room. 

One thing I liked: The offense did its job but much of the increased pace came from fast play from the back, and Frei got in on this himself by playing the ball quickly and throwing long to jumpstart Jordan Morris into attacking areas. 

One thing I didn’t like: One of the only stressful points for Frei came as he slipped and fumbled a ball that he had in clear possession, nearly gifting Minnesota an unearned chance right before halftime. And I’m not a huge fan of blatant time wasting, but it was nice to be on the other end of that for once. 

Vibes: Concerns alleviated but still on high alert. 


Nouhou – 7 | Community – 7.0 (off 90’+1’ for Bell)

Nouhou returned and looked fantastic: 87 touches, 91 percent passing, rock solid defense, and generally good choices going forward. Seattle’s defense was a smooth, cohesive unit and the ball moved quickly around the back and forward directly, without the slow plodding movement from prior matches. 

One thing I liked: This was one of the most one-sided dominations by a Sounders defender to an individual opponent ever, as Nouhou completely handled Jeong Sang-Bin to the point that it started to feel almost abusive. Poor #11 tried Nouhou on for size a half dozen times, got pocketed, and then with a wild, scared look in his eyes, turned around and passed back for the rest of the match before mercifully being subbed out. 

One thing I didn’t like: There seemed to be a disconnect between Léo Chú and Nouhou, which may have led to a near-permanent switch of sides for the wingers. 

Vibes: Defenders who defend are pretty neat, but that wide connection is worth keeping an eye on.

Jackson Ragen – 7 | Community – 6.3

Ragen was outstanding, making almost no mistakes in his strong defensive performance that was only half of his quality play. The other half was Jackson’s beautiful combination and distribution vertically, which jumpstarted some of the quick movement and direct passing that were so effective for Seattle. His 88 touches and 89 percent passing were defined by some excellent direct, vertical passing that looked to bypass midfield connections. 

One thing I liked: Ragen took up shop incredibly high, receiving the ball often from wide areas but then looking forward. Showing off his top tier vision all night, Jackson was able to pick out much more aggressive passes against Minnesota than in prior matches, and this game showed his vision and passing abilities, as he attempted the second-most progressive passes. 

One thing I didn’t like: In the 18th minute, the match was still in doubt and Ragen had a bad miss in the box that almost allowed Minnesota to convert one of their few quality counter attack attempts. 

Vibes: Trending up, fast. 

Yeimar – 6 | Community – 6.8

Yeimar had a very Yeimar game: 87 percent passing combined with two tackles, three interceptions, three clearances, plenty of stellar defending across the back, and relatively clean possession play. 

One thing I liked: Yeimar’s ability to cover large areas of the field allowed both Nouhou and Cristian Roldan to play higher, and Yeimar consistently got the ball quickly wide or to Ragen for distribution. In minute 55 he took on three players defensively on a break out and stymied them all, preventing any chance for Minnesota in a fabulous defensive effort. 

One thing I didn’t like: The usual flubbed passes came in the 17th and 53rd minutes. 

Vibes: Holding steady at a high level. 

Alex Roldan – 5 | Community – 5.1 (off 7’ injured for Rothrock)

Alex played one fateful minute in this match and oof, left clearly groggy and hurt. After being clattered into on a defensive header attempt in the first minute, he struggled to recover and had to be helped off the field and directly into concussion protocol. 

One thing I liked: Walking off on his own was good to see. 

One thing I didn’t like: Any head injury is dangerous, and that looked worse than what kept his brother out for months. Really hope he’s not seriously injured. 

Vibes: Not feeling great about this. 

Defensive Midfield

Obed Vargas – 6 | Community – 6.5

Obed continued to impress, now changing the narrative from “outplaying expectations offensively” to “expectations are higher and he's meeting them” level. While not too impactful in defense, he again brought quality control and direct dribbling that is such a breath of fresh air in the center. His 51 touches and 76 percent passing were just okay, but fit nicely into what Seattle needed in the middle. 

One thing I liked: It only took a single moment, but when Léo Chú and Vargas combined on the right in the 57th minute, it was magic. Giving, going, connecting, gliding through multiple defenders, these two created something special and put the match away. 

One thing I didn’t like: Vargas gave up an unnecessary corner in the 54th minute, the kind of small mistake that can hurt when you are dominating a game but then gift the opponent a set piece. 

Vibes: The confidence grows weekly but so do the expectations. 

João Paulo – 8 | Community – 7.3

JP was awesome in this match, unleashing a full 90 minutes of incredibly impactful play on Minnesota. A game-high 125 touches meant João Paulo was all over the ball, and he wasn’t passive with his touches — he was direct and attacking. He led the team with three key passes, completed 89 percent, and before you assume he was all attack, he had a ridiculous seven interceptions on defense. He especially benefited from the extra space in the midfield created by the vertical attackers and he took full advantage.

One thing I liked: For at least one game, the maestro was back in the middle, connecting everywhere, pulling strings, and like recent matches, looking vertically to the space that Morris was creating upfield. In the 21st he linked up with Chú and Morris for a beautiful combination that nearly scored. After Yeimar had a turnover in the 50th minute, JP did his boss man thing, forcefully defending the play. He connected with Morris for a chance at another goal in the 82nd.

One thing I didn’t like: In the 44th and 47th minutes, JP had chances to put the match away and missed on crucial over-the-top attempts, failing to reward incredible Morris movement.

Vibes: Cautiously optimistic.

Attacking Midfield

Léo Chú – 6 | Community – 6.4 (off 61’ for Atencio)

Chú returned to the starting lineup and showed why his pace and direct play pair well with Morris. Although not as consistently impactful as you hope from a wide player, he had multiple big moments that supported Seattle’s trend of creating more quality over quantity chances directly on goal, including an essential assist. Chú linked with JP and Morris early, setting the tone for a high line of confrontation and creating usable gaps in the opponent’s defense. 

One thing I liked: The game-breaking ability to drive at defenders, play a quick give-and-go with teammates and then continue to attack the goal is exactly what Chú brings. He did this in the 57th minute, showing 1-v-1 skills and the ability to combine with other Sounders to create high quality chances. 

One thing I didn’t like: Not connecting and making the best runs from the left, and then getting lost on the right was concerning. This led to a very low 18 touches and 64 percent passing, both numbers that will need to be increased for him to be a longer term starter.

Vibes: When partnered with the right tactics, ascending quickly.

Albert Rusnák – 7 | Community – 6.2 (off 90’+1’ for Leyva)

It wasn’t a great match, but it was one where Albert impacted the score sheet directly, something we should expect from the central playmaker. At times fading from possession that was dominated by the ascendent João Paulo, Rusnák still had 65 touches and was efficient with the ball. Ninety-two percent passing with as many vertical attempts as he made was fantastic, and it included two shots and a key pass offensively. 

One thing I liked: Albert’s service on the assist was good, finding a dangerous spot and letting Morris cook. His run and near-goal in the 66th minute was exactly the kind of vertical connection with Morris we needed, as Rusnák read the play developing, hustled into the box, and forced a tremendous save.

One thing I didn’t like: Being used to Nico’s constant movement has created an expectation that Albert can fade from matches, and that happens at times. There were a few moments when the suddenly high octane, vertical Sounders didn’t include Rusnák, although he adjusted later in the match. 

Vibes: Multiplying the other vibes out there in a cautiously upward trajectory. 

Cristian Roldan – 7 | Community – 7.0

Cristian started out on the right wing but was moved back seven minutes into the game after his brother left injured, and he had an excellent match from the defensive right. His vision and control combined well with stout team defensive work. One key pass and 87 percent connection rate didn’t tell the whole story, as time and again, Cristian’s ability to control possession in right and central areas and then combine vertically was transcendent.

One thing I liked: I speculated last week that right back might be his best spot, and Cristian put on a show there last Saturday. His ability to help control possession on the right was excellent, never looking pressured as he calmly navigated out of any defensive areas. His ability to look vertical and connect aggressively into the offense was spectacular, including setting an early precedent by combining over the top with Morris twice in the first fifteen minutes. 

One thing I didn’t like: Getting here due to his brother’s injury is rough, and there is still debate on what Cristian’s best position is in the starting lineup. A minimal concern is how he defends against more consistent applied pressure. 

Vibes: Through the roof. 


Jordan Morris – 8 (MOTM) | Community – 7.5 (MOTM)

Jordan Morris got a chance to play up front and didn’t waste a minute of it. Constantly active, vertical, pressing, forcing gaps in the defense, attacking, shooting, scoring, assisting — Morris showed the complete package up front. I hope this reminded the team and staff how important space is, and how he almost single-handedly creates it for the team to exploit. He put both his shots on frame, scored, had two key passes and most importantly, created high value goalscoring opportunities. He could have had four goal contributions in this match. 

One thing I liked: Unlike most teammates, Jordan creates high-quality chances for himself and others. Getting into the box and scoring a header was just size, strength, and will. Making blistering runs to get into the box and set up opportunities in the 12th, 21st, 26th, 46th, 66th, and 82nd was speed, understanding, and technique. Morris created so much space for people to work underneath that it enabled the defense to be aggressive, unlocked JP to create, willed the ball into dangerous areas, and made Jordan himself an un-markable force the entire match. 

One thing I didn’t like: He could have scored on a breakaway, he should have had two assists, and he only had 27 touches, which is more about the rest of the team finding him than anything else. 

Vibes: Forward vibes be vibin’, but still need to see whether this is repeatable. 


Paul Rothrock – 7 | Community – 6.7 (on 7’ for Alex Roldan) 

When Alex went down with a concussion inside the first minute, there was a big choice to make on who to replace him. Like earlier this season, Coach Schmetzer chose Rothrock as his ultra-long reliever. Boy, did that choice work out. While not always great, Rothrock led the team with three shots and scored a goal. He brought limitless hustle and an ability to balance out the effort across the front three, which transformed an offense that had been stymied by a plodding pace in prior matches. 

One thing I liked: The hustle Rothrock brings is immense, but he also combines it with an excellent tactical understanding, which gets him in great spots on the back post due to reading the runs of teammates. He scored one and should have had two because he busted his ass to get where he needed to be to support teammates. 

One thing I didn’t like: For all his hustle, Paul struggled with some of the technical parts of the game, such as connecting the right passes (70 percent completion) or adding creativity from width (zero crosses, only one key pass). While making up for this deficit with effort and intelligence was enough in this match, he can’t miss a wide open net like he did in the 46th minute when a gift-wrapped Morris cross was squandered.

Vibes: The effort is repeatable, and might be enough. 

Josh Atencio – 5 | Community – 5.6 (on 61’ for Chú)

Atencio arrived for the minutes-regulated Chú and slid into the center to add some defense and size. After he arrived, Minnesota didn’t earn a single shot, which is a credit to Josh and company as they shut down the opponent and cleanly rode out the victory. 

One thing I liked: Getting 33 touches, Josh was a consistent vertical threat and connector in the middle of the field. He combined that with solid defending in support of the more attacking JP, earning three tackles. 

One thing I didn’t like: A bad pass in the 66th minute stuck out and there weren’t highlights on the positive side to help his case for more minutes, with none of his attempted passes forward connecting.

Vibes: Not great; seems like he’s become a bench option through little fault of his own.

Jonathan Bell – 5 | Community – 5.2 (on 90’+1’ for Nouhou)

Jonathan Bell not only made the bench, but got some time on the left to end the match. He was credited with just five touches. 

One thing I liked: Staying home from his national team to help the Sounders is underrated, but it could be big in a week where the Sounders have a legitimate chance at nine crucial points. 

One thing I didn’t like: Jon’s one cross was a good one, but it didn’t connect. The rest of his play was conservative and it’s unclear how that fits into a more vertical Seattle attack going forward.

Vibes: Remember Jon Bell? 

Danny Leyva – 5 | Community – 5.1 (on 90’+1’ for Rusnák)

Leyva came in and was active, like you want a late substitute to be, but ineffective, as Seattle merely saw out the match in the last few minutes. He was credited with a shot that was a generous interpretation of events. 

One thing I liked: His 1/1 passing was 100 percent completion for the math nerds out there. 

One thing I didn’t like: Not letting Danny take either of the set pieces created late was a travesty, and his volley attempt on the other end of the second corner was similarly awful. 

Vibes: At least he’s not completely forgotten.


Rosendo Mendoza – 5 | Community – 6.3

This referee has been very up and down in past Sounders matches, and had the team played worse, it’s likely the refereeing would have mirrored that play. Fortunately, Seattle was fairly dominant and was able to adjust to the physicality allowed by the referee. Most of the calls (24 fouls, two yellow cards, one red card) were justified, and while there were plenty of frustrations from both teams at the referee, calls were relatively quick and consistent. 

One thing I liked: Being on the end of a correct VAR red was kinda fun, even if it didn’t have any real benefit as the Sounders were completely in control at that point. The ref did a solid job allowing some advantage play and did utilize the warning both ways, with Rothrock especially benefitting from physical play on the Sounders’ side. 

One thing I didn’t like: The sheer number of midfield fouls that he allowed Minnesota without cards was infuriating to watch, even more so as it continually prevented the suddenly high octane vertical passing that Seattle was employing. Cards came out way too late, and this prevented even more quick Sounder play. Although no player had more than two fouls, spreading delay and obstruction tactics around should still result in a persistent card. 

Vibes: Awful in person, okay on re-watch.

Minnesota United MOTM

Well, Clint Irwin kept it respectable. Credited with two saves, his denial of a clean-through Jordan Morris in the 46th minute was particularly impressive. Similarly, he got big to save a Rusnák effort after Morris’ clipped ball put him through. The voters have clearly seen past his less than stellar work on Rothrock’s glaring miss, as it was sandwiched between these two terrific efforts.

Next up Vibes: Playing on the road in heat is rarely great for Seattle, but we desperately need this momentum to continue.