After watching Thursday’s game on replay, I was again impressed with how well Seattle played on the road and in the heat. Not sure if my expectations have subconsciously dropped or if the Sounders were just that good. I’ll go with the latter.
The win was so needed, and without Freddie Ljungberg and Nate Jaqua there would’ve been a personnel excuse for a bad result. Instead Pat Noonan and Roger Levesque came in and played well, and the guys got a much-deserved three points.
ESPN has to appreciate the attack-minded mentality of Sigi Schmid’s team, as it made for good television. Seattle has said they’re not sitting back anymore and it’s worked well for the club so far.
Let’s get to the ratings:
* * *
GK Kasey Keller — What a tough, gritty performance. Playing 25 minutes with a sprained foot can’t be easy. Before and after the injury he was fearless off the line. Made a handful of tremendous saves, including efforts on Najar, King, Quaranta and a deflection off James Riley. Also allowed his team to keep a sub, which turned about to be Nyassi, which lead to the winner. 8
D James Riley — Played with lots of aggressive and energy (not just the young guys of offense get to claim that). Loved how he crushed Pontius on a ball in the air early on. Lots of disruptive moments on defense and definitely played a part on offense with a number of decent crosses. Wasn’t flawless, but a strong showing. 6
D Jeff Parke (off 63) — Again, another step forward for him. I like how he followed Moreno into D.C.’s side of the field to pressure him. Too bad he got cramps in his abs. Along with an above-average defensive effort, I thought he had a great day of distribution. Found Montero and Zakuani with some great passes on the ground. 6
D Patrick Ianni — Another no non-sense performance in the back with tough-nosed defense. Had a couple moments of shakiness, but he stills provides a lot to make up for it. Might have been the most dangerous target in the air on Thursday, and also had a game-saving header off the line when Keller was on the ground. 6.5
D Leo Gonzalez — Also was very active on the left side. Was troubled by Najar at times, but had lots of good moments of defensive work as well. Was needed more in the attack on the left flank with Zakuani drifting to the middle and provided more on offense than he has in recent games. Did get booked and will miss the Colorado game, meaning a reserve will have to take on the ever-dangerous Omar Cummings. 6
M Nathan Sturgis — Quietly had a standout performance. Really an unsung hero in the win. I thought he was exceptional. His passing. His positioning. His distribution and help on defense. He battled in the air. He had good service on set pieces and from the wing. He combined well. He controlled possession and really managed things from the middle. 7.5
M Michael Seamon (off 73) — Another night where he needed to get more involved. Definitely was lost in the first half hour of the game, but was active after that. Had a handful of unfortunate giveaways, but he did play aggressively. Not afraid to launch shots from distance and we might see a Boca Juniors v2.0 goal one of these days. 5
M Pat Noonan (off 87) — I’ve been a bit critical of him in the past, but I think this was definitely one of his best games of the season. Very few giveaways and was very active on the right flank. It’s not even a position he practices much; he’s mostly at forward. Had the cross that set up Zakuani’s open shot early, one that went wide. Had several other good moments and crosses. 6
M Steve Zakuani — You definitely saw him more in the middle of the field. He roamed more than he has maybe in his entire MLS career. It helped him get involved, but I’m not sure if it was a part of the team strategy or not. Struggled early but was very, very dangerous later in the game. Was unlucky not to get involved with a score. Needs to be more decisive in the box at times, but has been combining well with Montero. 6.5
F Roger Levesque — Another guy that will always give you his full 90. Was definitely a nuisance to the D.C. backline. Battles for balls in the air and does a great job defensively from that position. Has moments where he needs to be stronger holding up the ball and his shot left something to be deserved, but the hard work paid off with a fearless winner, sticking his face next to Jakovic’s boot to head in a Montero cross. 6
F Fredy Montero — Inspired again, from the opening whistle (where he pressured D.C. into a giveaway) to just before the final one (setting up the game winner). Was also a bit unlucky not to get a goal of his own, troubling Perkins with a handful of shots. Is really combining well with a lot of his teammates and is turning into a great distributor/passer. Those seven assists are no accident. 8
D Tyrone Marshall (on 63) — Replaced the injured Parke and had a quiet night, in a good way. Had a couple long balls that found a target and a couple that didn’t. Nearly got beat in behind, but was steady in the back. 5
M Osvaldo Alonso (on 73) — Much better than the Dallas game in wreaking havoc. In about 20 minutes, had several great plays on defense. His instincts and feel for the game are fun to watch. 6
M Sanna Nyassi (on 87) — Yeah, he didn’t get much time out there and many wanted to see Blaise Nkufo, but within a minute of entering the pitch he had a nice steal and a pass (albeit a wayward one) to Montero to set up the winner. You can’t argue with the impact he had. Thank Keller for not needing a replacement, but also credit the young Gambian for the spark. 6
COACH SIGI SCHMID
Was undermanned even before Nate Jaqua was scratched with a groin strain. Regardless, he fielded a lineup and implemented an attack-first strategy that had his side superior on the road. Handled all the subs well. Certainly had a big part in Seattle coming home with the three points. 8
REFEREE ALEX PRUS
I thought he had an incredibly strong game. Kept things in control and didn’t have to had out a bunch of cards to do it. I thought both bookings were the right calls. Didn’t allow deception to get the best of him and waved a couple guys up. Stayed out of the way and let the players decide it. The star of the game for the unattached? 9