No need to click ‘refresh’ or wipe your eyes. I actually got around to player ratings again. I know it’s been a while, but to be fair, Monday was a well-timed day off to watch tape and there haven’t been very many breaks in the jam-packed schedule recently. As such, I haven’t had very many chances to break down performances in Sounders FC league games.
My thoughts from Sunday? A draw would’ve been fair. Seattle certainly did enough to score a goal — with 15 shots surely one deserved to go in if it weren’t for a fine performance by Galaxy goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts. Seems odd that they had so many chances without several standout performances from its attacking players.
Sure, Sounders FC played more directly than we’re used to at times, but it wasn’t all bad. Ricketts was certainly more busy than counterpart Kasey Keller. L.A. came out strong but once it got that fabulous goal by Edson Buddle the Galaxy went into a defensive shell. Landon Donovan and David Beckham were constantly checking back to their own penalty box, making things very cluttered and difficult for the Seattle attack.
All in all, I agreed that the performance was encouraging enough. Even if the result wasn’t…
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GK Kasey Keller — I mentioned this a bit earlier, but he wasn’t extremely busy. Had a good couple saves on Beckham and Donovan in the first half, but couldn’t be asked to do much on the Buddle goal in my opinion. Was also comfortable in the second half, making some stops and coming off his line well. 5.5
D James Riley — Had a couple early giveaways in possession and probably deserved a booking early for a late sliding challenge on Donovan. Other than that fairly strong defensively. Won some headers and tackles, blocked shots. Also pushed up a time or two. 5.5
D Jeff Parke (off 65) — The status of his ankle will be the question of the week as he’s become a mainstay in the back. Had a strong header on offense that was just wide of the goal early on. Thought he was beat by Buddle on defensive set pieces too often. That keeps the rating from being higher for me. 5
D Patrick Ianni — Came thisclose to tallying an assist when he pushed a corner kick toward Fredy Montero, whose header was somehow saved by Ricketts. I thought he was strong in defense and in the air. Was turned easily by Buddle on the goal, but who really saw that goal coming? 5.5
D Leo Gonzalez — Very early on had some easy giveaways that could have easily been turned into goals. After the sloppy start I thought he was very strong. He embraced the physical nature of the game that was allowed to be played and took it out on Beckham. Gave 100-percent effort and was up and down the field. 6
M Osvaldo Alonso — More involved in the attack than he had been recently; that was seen in the 1st-minute shot on target that nearly set up a goal. Tangled with Kovalenko in the middle several times and didn’t back down to the challenge. Good in possession and playmaking, but you would’ve liked to have seen the ball go through him more. 6
M Nathan Sturgis (off 81) — Another guy who was good when he got the ball but wasn’t as involved on offense as you would’ve liked. Did well in his defensive responsibilities and his set-piece service Sunday was one of his better efforts. Nearly sneaked a free-kick shot past Ricketts. 5.5
M Sanna Nyassi (off 74) — Very active early but those chances and energy didn’t turn into much danger at all. Eddie Lewis really got the better of him all night. When he wasn’t losing the ball, his crosses were woefully off target. Active but sloppy and seemed pretty frustrated at the end. 4
M Steve Zakuani — Nearly brought the house down on the disallowed goal, but then we didn’t see him much in the first half. Created little danger early. At the start of the second half missed an open shot way wide. Got significantly better as the game went on setting up teammates. Set up Nkufo once and also found Jaqua on the 87th minute chance. The late surge wasn’t enough to make up for everything. 4.5
F Fredy Montero — This was the one performance that looked very different to me on tape. Upon second viewing he did a lot more than I remember. While his scoring form is off, he was still very active and aggressive from start to finish. This all despite the fact that he was abused up and down the field without any protection from the ref. Got an early forearm to the face and two-handed shove from Kovalenko go unpunished and also got the weakest yellow card I’ve seen in a while. Drew fouls and found teammates all game. Had a couple great shots saved that could’ve easily been goals. Was also the team’s best player at holding up the ball and controlling long passes — more than Nkufo. Had some giveaways and a poorly taken free kick, but I encourage you to watch his performance again before you condemn him. 6
F Blaise Nkufo — I didn’t think it was an inspired performance. Gave the ball up way too easily for me. Had a number of bad passes and giveaways. Wasn’t strong in the air. Perhaps the physical nature of the game took him out of it. Wasn’t happy with the calls all day. Had a couple shots and other good moments, but those were the exception. Also unnecessarily booked at the end. 4.5
D Tyrone Marshall (on 65) — Got called for a foul in wrapping up Buddle upon entering the game, which seemed inconsistent with how the match had been called up until that point. L.A. wasn’t attacking much when he came in so he wasn’t asked to do too much defensively. Sent a lot of long balls up, which might’ve been what the team wanted at that point, so I won’t judge there. Was also one of four defenders beat on Juninho’s late chance. 5
M Alvaro Fernandez (on 74) — This was consistent with what I remember live. He wasn’t really able to get super involved in his time. His technique and control of the ball in the possession game is world class though. 5
F Nate Jaqua (on 81) — Will be most remembered for the 87th minute chance he fires right at Ricketts. Watching it a couple times again, it appeared to be a much tougher chance than I thought at first. It would’ve been a very good goal. INC
COACH SIGI SCHMID
Really can’t fault fielding an unbeaten starting lineup. The subs were all correct I felt (I might’ve swapped Fernandez for Nyassi a bit earlier, but it’s all the same). Could be part to blame for the out of sync offense, but they still had 15 shots, so a lot falls on individual finishing as well. His team probably deserved a draw, but only a one-in-a-million goal changed that. 5
REFEREE RICARDO SALAZAR
Didn’t issue a yellow card until the second half, which allowed the game to get out of hand. Really should’ve booked Riley early on. Kovalenko also deserved a first-half card. Was really inconsistent it seemed. Didn’t call a foul for a two-handed shove on Montero, but gave him a card for a tangle of the feet and was quick on the whistle in other situations. Missed some obvious/simple calls and didn’t appear to have respect from either side. Schmid had no comment after the game but I think he might agree with some of this. 2.5