I got around to watching the replay on Tuesday’s game and, yes, I also think Sounders FC deserved more than the 1-0 defeat. It’s a tune we’ve all sung before and lamenting missed chances isn’t anything new either.
I also think the standard for this team is higher than just deserving a draw at home against a Galaxy side without Omar Gonzalez, Donovan Ricketts (though his back-up, Josh Saunders, was phenomenal) and Juan Pablo Angel. Most of that blame goes to finishing.
After a closer look on second viewing I thought Jhon Kennedy Hurtado was Seattle’s best player on the day. There were other good performances as well, but no great ones from the attacking options. Let’s get to it.
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GK Kasey Keller — I thought his got off his line early and often to great effect. Anticipated crosses well. Made a very good save on a Birchall shot and one earlier on Magee that ended up being offside. Got his fingertips to Juninho’s shot but couldn’t have been expected to come up with that, even though he almost did. 6.5
D James Riley — Had some really shaky moments on the ball early. One was a back pass that Keller had to clean up and the other was when he lost the ball deep in his defensive third. Definitely settled down and was much better in the second half. Won some defensive headers and helped keep Landon Donovan fairly quiet. 5.5
D Jeff Parke — Another one that got stronger as the game went on. Was beat by Chad Barrett early to set up a break and also wasn’t very authoritative on some clearances. Very reliable in the air, as always. Had some strong tackles and played physically. Could’ve closed down Juninho better on the goal, but there was a forward near him he was covering. Helped keep the forwards quiet. 6
D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado — Like I said earlier, I thought he was the best player in rave green on the night. Had a handful of great 1v1 tackles and made very few mistakes. I certainly didn’t get the sense that was his first game back from a major injury. Might’ve done better to close out on the Juninho shot and was also turned by Magee to set up Donovan’s breakaway. Aside from that, he was very solid. 7
D Leo Gonzalez — Another member of the backline who had a good night, I thought. Wasn’t asked to do much in the first half, as little of the Galaxy attack came down his side. Was physical with Beckham when he needed to be and was booked for it when the Englishman made a meal of one just before the half. Didn’t get forward that much, but was very steady. 6
M Alvaro Fernandez (off 63) — A poor night I felt, to his standard and otherwise. I think the DP had the worst game of all the Sounders. Lots of giveaways. Didn’t complete many passes. Only a few crosses were dangerous. Had an open header in the first half but hit it right at Saunders. Was the first player subbed out. 4
M Osvaldo Alonso — Another one of the highlights for Seattle. Very disruptive and shut down a lot of L.A.’s attacking moments. Wasn’t flawless. Had some giveaways, some soft clearances and some poor set pieces but was mostly strong. Nearly had an assist on a corner kick when Montero’s shot was saved. Hammered an open shot over the bar in the 61st minute. Should be judged mostly, however, on his defensive work, which was very good. 6.5
M Erik Friberg — A hot and cold night for the newcomer. I thought his influence on the Sounders FC attack was very good early on. Linked play very well. Nearly had a goal as well in the 43rd minute (one that half the Qwest Field thought went in) when he chipped Saunders. Made some good runs, but had some shaky moments too. Most importantly, he had the giveaway that led to the Galaxy goal. He also might’ve been sent off for a studs up challenge on Donovan after a heavy touch. 5.5
M Steve Zakuani (off 84) — Was perhaps a surprise to play after suffering an injury in the final preseason game. Was mostly quiet in the first half, but had an amazing run when he set up White in front of the net. Should’ve had an assist there and on another cross to White later. Very strong in the second half and abused Sean Franklin a couple times. Rating would be higher if more of the attack went through him earlier. 6
F Fredy Montero — Another performance that’s a little hard to judge. Had some of the best chances of the game with two long-distance shots and one at the far post of an Alonso corner kick, but they all were saved by Saunders. Linked up well at times and showed good effort early. I thought he disappeared a bit in the second half. Had a good cross to Levesque at the far post late, but I wanted to see more. 5.5
F O’Brian White (off 79) — Definitely one of the more polarizing performances from the fans, I’ve gauged. Schmid thought he did well and I agree to an extent. He won some headers, offensively and defensively, and was surprising good at holding up the ball I noticed on the second viewing. Couldn’t pull the trigger on the 24th minute chance set up by Zakuani. Also set another open shot right at Saunders, then another inches wide near the end. He made the runs and put himself in the position for those opportunities which is good. We’ll see if the missed chances become a trend, but one game is not enough to condemn him, I feel. 5
M Roger Levesque (on 63) — Didn’t provide the spark I wouldn’t like to have seen. A couple of his early crosses weren’t good. Effort is never an issue and nearly got on the end of a Montero cross to the far post. 5
F Lamar Neagle (on 79) — Debut was a nice moment for the local product. Had a nice cross and set up Montano well, but the youngster was offside. Nearly got to a flick header in stoppage time. INC
M Miguel Montano (on 84) — Had an early giveaway and was caught offside in his limited time. Did draw a booking from Beckham and a late chance to equalize with the ensuing free kick. INC
COACH SIGI SCHMID
The question will surely be, how much blame does the coach deserve for poor finishing? I put most of the onus on the players, but when missed chances have been a familiar trend, there’s blame to go around. I’m sure the Schmid detractors will have their opinion, but I think the Sounders lineup was put in position to get the results. Injuries forced the coach’s hand on late subs. Surely Mike Fucito, Nate Jaqua and Brad Evans might’ve been more helpful reserves were they healthy. A home loss is never good though. 5
REFEREE ALEX PRUS
Some of you might skewer me for this, but I’m giving the ref the highest grade on the day. I thought he kept things in control and was very consistent. Neither team had many gripes and it was called evenly. Blew the whistle when he needed to to keep things under control and the bookings were fair. Might’ve given Friberg a red for the high boot into Donovan’s thigh, but I haven’t seen very many complaints regarding the officiating. 7.5