During a wild wedding weekend, I was able to catch a final score of the Sounders FC v. Columbus game. Finally Sunday night I watched the replay of the match to fill in all the other details, besides the 1-1 score.
What a first half for the boys in blue! A new 4-3-3 formation produced maybe the best stuff I’ve seen this season from the dynamic trio of Freddie Ljungberg, Fredy Montero and Steve Zakuani.
In the end, despite the new look, the result was familiar. Points were left on the field due to poor finishing. I thought Columbus was made to look pretty plain and the run of play was dominated by your home team though, so let’s get to the rankings.
GK Kasey Keller — Smothered a low shot early. Cross on the goal came in too hard I thought for Keller to come out. Made a great save on Schelotto late. Another solid, steady performance from the captain. 6
D James Riley — Had some bad giveaways in the back on defense, but the formation did allow him to get involved in the attack well on the right side. Produced some nice crosses. Also drew the red card, but was lucky some mistakes in the back didn’t hurt ’em. 5
D Patrick Ianni — Really dominated Lenhart in the air for most of the game, but unfortunately was beat on the goal. Made several strong tackles in the back. Had a far-post header over go over the bar. He always gets a chance or two on set pieces, but never on frame. 5.5
D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado — Very reliable in the back. Had a number of quality tackles in the defensive third like he usually does. But I thought his performance stood out — compared to his previous games — by his work on keeping possession. Very few giveaways. 6.5
D Leo Gonzalez — Like Riley, was also able to get involved in the attack more in a new formation. Nearly had an assist when Ljungberg fired a shot off the post. Crew attack on his side was limited, but did survive a scare when Lenhart headed a cross from the right side over the bar. Cleared danger when he had to and didn’t have any giveaways in the back. 6
M Osvaldo Alonso — Was just as good as the offense in the first half, with many a solid tackle to break up Columbus attacks. Had some great possession work and even got forward for some nice shots from distance. Did have a giveaway at the end (Toronto flashbacks) that nearly set up a Crew goal. 6.5
M Peter Vagenas — Started the buildup to the first goal. Then had an awful giveaway in seventh minute that went unpunished. I liked how physical he played. Surprising as it sounds, he had some hard fouls, won some defensive headers and threw his body around some. 6
M Freddie Ljungberg — One of the stars of the show. Not sure if it was the formation change that gave him more space or what, but the Swede was all over the field. Second-straight game he controlled the action. Had the early assist, nearly doubled the lead on a breakaway a bit later. Had some great passes forward and hit the post on a late shot. Also won some headers in the back. Set piece service was good. 8
F Brad Evans (off 66) — Work rate didn’t change despite playing higher up. Tracked back well to go along with his chances. Had quite a few giveaways. Starting to look more comfortable in the final attacking third, but a goal would be huge for confidence and validation. 5
F Fredy Montero — Very active and involved. Took a hit on the buildup to the Zakuani goal. Set up Ljungberg and his other teammates multiple times. Held the ball well. Took a number of shots and probably would have expected to hit the target. Was hauled down (by Hejduk?) on a free kick in the box that went uncalled. 6.5
F Steve Zakuani — Great night got off to a quick start with a calm, cool, professional finish on the breakaway. Got behind the defense several times and made Hejduk look far from a USMNT defender. Had some low crosses and could have easily had a couple assists. Always dangerous when he had the ball, and that’s key with him. Also happy to track back when Leo got caught ahead. 8.5
F Sanna Nyassi (on 66) — Made an impact and got involved as a substitute. Was all over the field, including all the way back in the defensive third in the 70th minute. Didn’t put too many feet wrong. 6
COACH SIGI SCHMID
Little bit of a formation change had a big impact on the run of play. Put the team in a position to dominate. Finishing remains a concern, but the players have to take the lion’s share of that blame. Liked his formation and only made one sub, due to Evans knock. Did his part to put his team in the best chance to win. 8
REFEREE RICARDO SALAZAR
Ref-bashing is an unalienable right of the sports fan. I understand that and have done my fair share. Having said that, I thought Salazar’s performance in the middle was about as good a performance that you get from a referee in this league.
Both goals came as a result of playing advantage. He communicated well with the players and their concerns. Was in control of the game. Didn’t give Schelotto any star treatment (don’t overlook this one).
Did he have some missed calls? Absolutely. I’m not saying I agreed with every decision, but he had the officiating performance fans of this league should welcome. He is not the reason Seattle dropped two points at home. 8