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August 3, 2010 at 6:00 PM

Seattle Sounders FC 1, San Jose Earthquakes 0 — postgame thoughts and player ratings

What a great performance from Seattle. The guys were first class in the first 10-15 minutes and were the better side throughout — including in the second half when San Jose threw caution into the wind to go for the tie at home.

The effort from Sounders FC is at a high right now. And it appears that that chip on the shoulders from the inaugural campaign in 2009 is back. Both Sanna Nyassi and Osvaldo Alonso — not necessarily the biggest guys on the squad — didn’t back down to challenges or intimidation as the frustrated ‘Quakes chased the game.

The one-touch passing was phenomenal. And that buildup to the goal might have been the best combination of its type this season for Seattle. The guys in green probably deserved another goal or two if it wasn’t for the efforts of Jon Busch, the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year in 2008.

Let’s get to the ratings:

* * *

STARTERS

GK Kasey Keller — Had a great save early on a Cornell Glen breakaway. Also came off his line well to stop a dangerous moment from Glen. Only other save was on a soft backheel by Burling. On second look, he maybe could’ve come out on a couple set pieces, but really was not too troubled in recording the clean sheet. 6

D James Riley — Was shaky in the possession game I felt early on. His passes weren’t finding a target and he had a few giveaways. Defensively he was solid and San Jose’s attack was limited on his side. Deserves credit for always winning a defensive header or two on opposing corner-kicks. 5.5

D Jeff Parke (off 46) — Only was able to go 45 minutes after taking a blow from Ike Opara, but before that it hadn’t been his best half. Missed a sliding challenge that set up Glen’s early breakaway and was beaten to some headers. Still had some good moments and even fired a long-range shot at one point. 5

D Patrick Ianni — One of his more solid performances. Physical and aggressive like always. Had several non-nonsense clearances while protecting the lead. Rarely beat in one-v-one moments. 6.5

D Leo Gonzalez — Probably not his strongest game. Got beat by Glen, Convey and Alvarez on separate occasions. Struggled in the possession game and didn’t produce much in his efforts going forward. 5

M Osvaldo Alonso — Despite some early giveaways, he was everywhere out there. Extremely disruptive in the middle and got stronger as the game went on. Filled in at left back when Leo got caught forward and also filled in for Parke when he went down. Shrugged off a foot injury and was involved in the buildup to the first goal. Won headers, stopped counterattacks and got physical with Alvarez at the end — gotta love it all. 8

M Nathan Sturgis — Another incredibly strong, behind-the-scenes type of performance. Very strong on the ball and in possession, with very few giveaways. Corner-kick service was pretty good. Strong on defense and won some headers. Linked up with teammates all over and stayed involved the whole game. Great long ball set up Zakuani on a breakaway. Did lose Cronin for a dangerous shot late, but was solid throughout. 7

M Sanna Nyassi — Here’s a young guy that gets better with each game. Made some good runs and combined with his teammates well, especially in the first 10-15 minutes when Seattle dominated. Had a great cross to Montero that resulted in a header saved off the crossbar. Not long later found Montero for the goal. Took guys on and didn’t back to Bobby Convey in some tangles. 6.5

M Steve Zakuani (off 69) — Took him a while to get involved, but had a number of dangerous moments. Combined well with Nkufo and was unlucky not to get an assist or two setting up the big man. Had a great run soon before he was subbed off and nearly found Montero in front of the goal. Just would’ve like to see him more involved. 5.5

F Fredy Montero — Another strong performance and I’m not sure if anyone in MLS has been better since the start of June. Had a great cross to Nkufo early on that was nearly as assist and another cross nearly resulted in an Opara own goal. Had two great headers and got a goal off one of ’em. Tracked back for the ball and combined with teammates very well. Held the ball up well also and contributed defensively too. All over the place again. 8.5

F Blaise Nkufo (off 86) — Huge improvement from his MLS debut and I’m sure everyone expected it as he became more comfortable with his new team. Very active and got involved early with a strong header on target saved by Busch. His bread and butter is holding up the ball and combining with teammates, and he did that remarkably well. Slipped in the box during one dangerous moment and had a great shot saved by Busch in the second half. His strength is ever impressive and he won some crucial defensive headers at the end as well. 7

SUBSTITUTIONS

D Tyrone Marshall (on 46) — Was very steady in the final 45 minutes to close out the win. Had some authoritative headers and clearances. Very in control and I didn’t come across very many shaky moments in his performance. 6.5

M Alvaro Fernandez (on 69) — Had some positive touches as soon as he took the field. Didn’t get DP treatment though as he got roughed up a bit. Got a decent cross in at one point and might’ve had a goal in stoppage time with a better touch. Strong debut. 6

F Nate Jaqua (on 86) — Couldn’t quite get to breakaway from a Fernandez pass. Ran as much as he could to disrupt the Colorado attack. Will he get the start tonight? INC

COACH SIGI SCHMID

Had the much better side on the night, on the road, and got a vital three points. The lineup selection and the substitutions were spot on. Not much more to say, wrapped up three wins in three games. Can they make it four for four? 8

REFEREE EDVIN JURISEVIC

A decent performance from my view. I didn’t think he was exceptional, but he didn’t influence the outcome of the game. Let the players play for the most part and didn’t need to throw out a bunch of cards. 6

COMMENTS

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