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April 20, 2011 at 12:51 AM

Sounders FC vs. Philadelphia Union, player ratings

jaqua philly.jpgPhoto credit: Drew Hallowell, Getty Images

A bit late, as is becoming customary. Blame the cross-country flight and a furlough day for the delay. Not sure what excuses Sounders FC had for what was mostly a sub-par performance (cross-country flight and the weather?). If it weren’t for a late, but effective, switch to a 3-5-2 formation this team might be foundering with a 1-3-2 record.

The defense I felt was mostly good, especially the center backs. Kasey Keller was reliable in the back and the substitutes were strong as well. Other than that I felt the performances were mostly average. Lots of good mixed with bad and a lot of giveaways. The ratings might appear boring and repetitive, but I saw a good deal of middle-of-the-pack showings.

It was arguably Seattle’s worst performance of the season (maybe New York was low mark) but it could also be worse than getting a point on the road under tough conditions. Friday night against Colorado will be a big test as well, but let’s get to it.

* * *

STARTERS

GK Kasey Keller — Wasn’t exceedingly involved but helped manage the pace of the game, something that’s easy to overlook. When the score was tied he took his time and was deliberate on goal kicks and clearances. When Seattle was down, he was just as involved in reigniting the attack as anyone. The deflection in the wall made stopping Ruiz’s free-kick goal nearly impossible. Other shots by Le Toux and Okugo were handled comfortably — all in a makeshift uniform, no less. 6

D James Riley — Little complaints defensively. Keon Daniel was limited to just a long-range shot and not much else came through the left side. Was quite a bit off on a lot of his passes, however, especially early on. His impact in the comeback might’ve been overlooked, but he was working extremely hard in the 3-5-2 to get up and down the field and contributing on both ends. Drew a booking at one point. Also moved to left back in the final minutes to help secure the point. 6

D Jeff Parke — A professional performance in front of friends and family. The Downingtown, Pa., native was strong and steady in the back. Won a handful of headers and tackles. Helped keep Carlos Ruiz relatively quiet. Took an elbow to the face at one point and was also taken out by Keller diving on a ball in the penalty box. At one point appeared to give up on the live play to argue with the ref while action went on behind him. No danger came of it, thankfully for him. 6.5

D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado — Also a pretty solid night. Ruiz got the better of him a couple times, once by turning him on a long ball and another time drawing a foul away from the play. Knowing “El Pescadito” though, he might’ve made a meal of it. Wasn’t 100-percent clean with his accuracy, but the complaints are minor. Was active and aggressive. 6.5

D Leo Gonzalez (off 66) — A bit shaky to start with a poor clearance and a giveaway. Struggled in possession and unluckily appeared to have the deflection on the Ruiz goal. Most of the action came through his side of the field and he was mostly up to it. Was removed in the second half in a tactical decision so his overall contribution was more limited. 5.5

M Osvaldo Alonso — Stat lovers have surely noticed the Cuban leads the league in touches and tackles, and he was up to his usual disruption Saturday. Unfortunately he deserves the lion’s share for the blame on the goal. Had the giveaway on Philly’s end that led to the break. Then was beat by Nakazawa and, in my opinion, fouled the Union midfielder to set up the free kick. Was perhaps unfairly booked, but he flirted with a second yellow at times, especially a late tackle on Okugo. The negatives sour another night of exceptional ball-winning. Also wasn’t very involved at all on offense. 5.5

M Brad Evans — A very poor start I felt with way too many giveaways. Made a good late run early on, but the impact was mostly negative before halftime in my opinion (especially with a woefully shanked shot at one point). Having said that, when Sounders FC was dominating the last 20-30 minutes, I think he might’ve had the most impact for the away team. Battled in possession, won headers, made clearances, won second balls, pushed forward. His versatile game really shined in the second half. In case you didn’t notice, he was at right back in the closing minutes to preserve the point. In the end, it’s probably a performance that likely won’t change people’s prejudices and prejudgments. 5.5

M Erik Friberg (off 78) — In my opinion, the worst performance of the night. Not very involved and didn’t create much when he was. Had an open chance on goal early on along the right side (set up by Rosales) but couldn’t get a clean shot off. Didn’t connect on a lot of his passes. Had a bad giveaway that nearly led to a dangerous counterattack. It wasn’t a shocker, but it could certainly open the door for Flaco to come back into the lineup. Or maybe Rosales if Montero is healthy enough to go up front. 4

M Steve Zakuani — Combined well with Rosales to set up Friberg’s early chance. Tried to get more combinations going with the Argentine but the service was lacking. Seattle always tried to get him more involved, but those efforts didn’t go well. Maybe he could’ve tracked more into the middle? Fluffed what could’ve been a great chance when O’Brian White appeared to put him in on goal. Was rightly credited with a second assist upon review, but wasn’t able to have the impact you’d like. 5.5

F Mauro Rosales — Always active and puts in the effort, but on Saturday that energy didn’t lead to much productivity. A couple chances that stood out were failed combinations with Zakuani. Did well, however, to draw fouls and set up chances that way. Also had the pass to set up Friberg early, as I’ve mentioned. Had a handful more giveaways than we’re used to, but tracked back very well on defense a few times. Put in a full 90 as they say by staying involved to the end. Earned the decisive corner kick in the end and took it himself to play a part in the goal. Again, the effectiveness wasn’t the same as the two games prior. 5.5

F O’Brian White (off 67) — Another performance that wasn’t quite up to his standard. Holdup play was OK, definitely got better as the game wore on. Teammates looked to him to keep the ball, but for a variety of reasons the possession was usual lost (some his fault, some not). Provided a good target on set pieces and nearly had an assist with a phenomenal touch pass to Zakuani in front of goal. Stayed active and put pressure on Mondragon and his backline. Not sure if he opened the door for Jaqua, but you never know. 5.5

SUBSTITUTES

F Fredy Montero (on 66) — Snuck on just before Jaqua and replaced Leo. While he’s probably not 100-percent, I agree with Schmid that he brings a presence to the attack and something the defense has to focus on. Maybe could’ve been more aggressive and taken a couple shots on some chances at the top of the box. Looked to set up his teammates and did in the end with a perfect cross for the goal, just close enough to the net to facilitate a finish, but not too close to the ‘keeper. 6.5

F Nate Jaqua (on 67) — Definitely a valuable weapon off the bench and did well to battle and test Danny Califf physically. A great target on set pieces and clearances. Very active in his pressure. Kept the crucial corner kick alive winning the initial header. Performances becoming very consistent. Was happy to put in the dirty work to make his teammates better at the expense of his own personal production. 5.5

M Alvaro Fernandez (on 78) — The man of the match, and not just because he scored the goal. He was very active along the right to make runs and send in crosses. Tracked back well and was aggressive on defense. The time off has had an effect, it seems, and perhaps so did the midweek chat with Schmid. Nearly had the equalizer in the 78th minute (save for a Califf block) but got it in the end on a class finish, heading in Montero’s cross off the post. An inspired celebration followed suit and rightfully so. 7.5

COACH SIGI SCHMID

Not often do you get player after player praising the coach for getting the result in the end. That’s what happened among the Sounders in the fallout to the 1-1 tie after Schmid pulled a defender and went with an attacking 3-5-2 to chase the game. The switch baffled Nowak and the Union, and certainly provided enough pressure to warrant an equalizer. That isn’t to say he shouldn’t also be responsible for what was a pretty lackluster first 60 minutes, but that second-half management was spot on. 6.5

REFEREE TERRY VAUGHN

A lot of us up in the press box were expected Andrew Chapin (never heard of the guy) to be the ref. Who knows, maybe it’s one of Vaughn’s pseudonyms. Either way it’s not a good thing when you’re known by name around the ref and fans started complaining upon hearing about the switch. In truth, it wasn’t an awful performance. I actually thought he handled Philly’s physical shenanigans well early on — the home team Union had a couple cheap shots that maybe didn’t get caught as well on camera. Some of the bookings, however, surprised me. I also felt he got a bit more inconsistent as the game wore on. In the end, the pregame moans about Vaughn were louder than the postgame moans, which is a good sign. Schmid has a history with him and didn’t mention his name once in the couple days afterward — also a good sign. 5.5

* * *

As always, offer your thoughts and criticisms. The floor is yours…

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