It took me a little while to get to the tape of the New York game after a long travel weekend, but here we go. Interestingly the match was a little different than I remember upon second viewing. I think I was a little jaded from the Red Bulls fast start in dominating the first 25 minutes that I didn’t give Seattle enough credit in the end. Sure the possession was one-sided, but I don’t think the entire game was.
After watching the tape, New York goalkeeper Greg Sutton was asked to do about as much as Kasey Keller — a sign of several good chances for the Sounders. There were a handful of good performances from the guys in rave green as well (particularly Jeff Parke). While it doesn’t give you any points in the league standings, it should still be somewhat encouraging.
Keep in mind Seattle didn’t have four players available (Zakuani, Jaqua, Evans, Fucito) from its protected list of 11. Anyways, let’s get to the ratings.
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GK Kasey Keller — It was more about quality than quantity on the night for the captain. An early fumble to concede a corner kick was quickly forgotten after a sublime stop on Thierry Henry’s PK. Most of the other saves were quite comfortable until Tony Tchani’s header that required a great tip save. Couldn’t be asked to do much on Juan Agudelo’s great strike. Also came off his line well to snuff out chances, particularly from Dane Richards. 7
D James Riley — Reminded me a little of the L.A. game, where he had a couple shaky moments on the ball with a giveaway or two, but was steady and reliable on defense. Won some very crucial defensive headers in front of goal. Extra points for blocking a Joel Lindpere cross with his face and then answering a couple bizarre questions about it before halftime. Pressed forward very well in the second half to support the offense. Got better as the game went on. 6
D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado — A night to forget for El Presidente. Took out Agudelo to set up New York’s PK, but also had a bad giveaway before it that led to the breakaway. Was beaten by Henry and the youngster for pace a couple times. Had a handful of good moments, but not nearly enough. Booked for a hard foul on Agudelo, who later blew by him on the game’s only goal. Also shaky on some clearances. 3.5
D Jeff Parke — The man of the match for my money, even considering New York’s players. Hardly put a foot wrong and made a number of crucial, saving tackles and a multitude of “routine” ones. Was strong in the air and put out a lot of fires before they became serious. An all-star performance. There’s a reason his name is hanging in the rafters for being on the Red Bull’s all-time best XI. 8
D Leo Gonzalez — Got a tough assignment in the speedy Richards and did fairly well. Definitely got beat a few times, but had some moments of his own. Supported the attack well with a new winger in front of him in Erik Friberg. Rating might have been higher if he could’ve slowed Agudelo up enough to prevent the goal, inside of bouncing off the 18-year-old. 5
M Alvaro Fernandez (off 68) — A much better performance than he had in the opener and much of the early offensive action went through him. Some early crosses weren’t hit with much conviction but he combined with Fredy Montero extremely well. Would love to have that volley chance back after a great 1-2 with his fellow DP. Very involved and active in the first half, including some tracking back on Roy Miller who attacked on that side. Could’ve had an assist or two setting up Montero chances. Didn’t do as much in the second half and didn’t look particularly pleased by being subbed off, but it was a positive night. 5.5
M Osvaldo Alonso — A lot was going to be asked of the team MVP as Seattle embraced a defensive-minded style. I thought he was disruptive like he usually is and had some critical blocks and tackles. Sometimes got caught a little ahead of the play, but some of that was likely due to having Servando Carrasco also in the middle for the first time. I felt bad for some of the Red Bulls players’ ankle with him snapping at ’em relentlessly. Rating would’ve been higher, but he was off on quite a bit of the offensive linking that was required from him in the middle, especially as he tries to expand his game. 6
M Servando Carrasco (off 79) — A mostly positive night from the rookie who didn’t look out of place at all. Had a great tackle on Mehdi Ballouchy early to set up a chance. Also had a highlight-reel sliding tackle in the penalty box that showed great confidence and skill. Pretty solid on the ball and had some nice distribution forward. Picked his spots in going forward too. Got a little tired in the end and was beaten by Ballouchy on a corner kick chance that could’ve been dangerous. Again, mostly good though. 5.5
M Erik Friberg — Also given a bit of a tough role, sliding over to the left wing to fill in for Steve Zakuani. Definitely put a lot of work in, tracking back to help on Dane Richards and then racing forward on counterattacks. All that running kept him less involved in the offense than we got used to as a center mid, but that came with the role. Wasn’t too dangerous in the offensive third until the second half, when he came alive. Nearly had an assist on a deft chip to Montero. Also might’ve had a goal if Rafa Marquez didn’t go down easily on a challenge. 5.5
F Fredy Montero — Was the maestro in the attack again and is supremely unlucky not to have a goal yet. First L.A. goalkeeper Josh Saunders stoned him a handful of times in the opener and then Greg Sutton pulled out some brilliant/lucky saves as well. Did well to use the space in front of the centerbacks and, like I mentioned earlier, combined with Flaco very well a number of times. Had some chances in front of goal we definitely could’ve done better with. Also had the giveaway that led to the Red Bulls’ score. Those setbacks prevent a higher rating, despite nearly setting up the equalizer on that last free kick. 6
F O’Brian White (off 73) — I know some people are getting frustrated with the big Jamaican, but on Saturday he really took one for the team. All that space that Montero got to enjoy in front of the centerbacks was due to White pressing the defense as high as he could (very noticeable on Fredy’s knuckling shot from distance in the 27th minute). So in a counterattacking scheme, he had to put in some behind-the-scenes work that doesn’t often get appreciated, especially on the limited viewing made available on TV. It’s an attitude not every target forward is eager to embrace. He was also pretty strong in his hold-up play and kept the ball well. Despite that work, there still might have been a goal out there for him that he didn’t get. Got behind the defense a time or two and was there for rebound chances but couldn’t capitalize. Won some defensive headers on set pieces which is always nice, but his impact was mostly a subtle one based on the scheme the Sounders were playing. Friday night could be a big game for him. He might need to make a case to remain the starter once Nate Jaqua gets healthy. 5.5
M Mauro Rosales (on 68) — Did a lot of chasing in his time out there, which is what you need from fresh legs. Drew a free kick but also had a few giveaways. Showed some versatility by first playing on the right then moving to the middle. Impact was limited though. 5
F/M Roger Levesque (on 73) — Also played in a couple positions in his short time. Like Rosales, was all effort in his 20-some minutes, but it didn’t turn into too much production-wise. Had a wild challenge on defense and a rushed clearance in the back. 5
F Lamar Neagle (on 79) — Needlessly offside on a good run by Friberg early on. Earned a late free kick, but will be remembered most for flubbing the rebound chance in the final moments. Would’ve been a big moment. 4.5
COACH SIGI SCHMID
Embracing, and admitting, a defensive-minded/counterattacking style isn’t always easy. Fans (almost to a fault, sometimes) love it the other way around. But with Steve Zakuani resting and offensive options limited, it really was the right choice. The on-field performance I think proves it, as Seattle created almost as many goal-dangerous chances as the talented hosts. Due to the depleted bench, he didn’t have a lot of options in subs. Ultimately, I think coaching kept Seattle in this one, not the other way around. 5.5
REFEREE JAIR MARRUFO
A fairly food performance, I thought. Not as good as Alex Prus in the opener, but fair and consistent (at least more than he wasn’t). I took issue with a couple decisions, like not booking Agudelo for a challenge on Hurtado — one that looked eerily similar to a tackle he booked El President for earlier. Also might’ve been fooled on a dive or two. While there are some quibbles, he didn’t impact the final result in the end, which is what you ask for in this league. Though I’m not sure what to think regarding the free-kick spray… 6
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OK folks. Let me have it. What do you think?