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May 17, 2011 at 10:47 PM

Sounders FC vs. Portland Timbers, player ratings

portland fernandez.jpgPhoto credit: Ellen M. Banner

A little late, but as some of you probably noticed, I tried to sneak in a day off Monday and got a bit behind as a result. As we all know, there wasn’t a pretty performance waiting on the tape.

But it wasn’t all bad. I thought the defense played well all around and Alvaro Fernandez (pictured) was phenomenal. The one goal was conceded on a set piece, but Seattle’s goal wasn’t being peppered. Portland’s dangerous chances were few and far between. Unfortunately, they also were for the home team.

Rivalry games, especially super-hyped ones, are rarely classics. Disappointment isn’t an uncommon emotion after such matches. This Kansas City game coming up on Saturday is a big one, especially with a two-game week against FC Dallas (home) and Real Salt Lake (away) looming. Let’s get to it.

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STARTERS

GK Kasey Keller — He’s been on a great run of form, and one mishandled set piece doesn’t change that. He deserves a significant chunk of the blame on the goal allowed, but not all of it. The line dropped quick and Danso was essentially unmarked, but he committed to Jewsbury service almost right away and didn’t get there. Other than that the night was pretty clean. Wasn’t tested a lot and was mostly strong on the ball, without allowing many soft rebound chances. Did have one mix-up with Ianni in the second half, which led to a little spill. 5

D James Riley — Got beat early by Jewsbury, but was mostly solid defensively. Had several issues trying to link up in possession with Evans. Perhaps that was one instance where the conditions affected the play, with several balls skipping into touch. Had a very poor giveaway in the 69th minute. Not all long balls are created equally, and he actually had a couple very nice ones that created danger. 5.5

D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado — Was very strong in the back, winning a ton of headers and tackles. Got the better of Cooper and Perlaza throughout. He did, however, have the clumsy foul on Zizzo to set up the crucial free kick (though Carrasco might’ve been whistled for a foul too). Conceded a couple other fouls, which probably went away from the game plan. 6

D Patrick Ianni — His center back partner was more active in the second half, but he owned the first half. Positioned himself well and made some crucial clearances in dangerous moments. Was caught in no man’s land on an early Cooper chance, but that was the extent of it. Broke up a counterattack very smartly with a professional foul at one point. Also key in keeping the forwards quiet. 6.5

D Tyson Wahl — Starting him has been the right choice in my book and he had another solid night. Involved in the attack with an early cross to Evans that was headed wide and also good on set pieces. Was beat by Nagbe at one point but recovered well to clear the cross. Was physical on defense and, like Ianni, made some big clearances at crucial moments. Cleared Perlaza’s shot off the line, but it was probably going out. Either way, he was there. Maybe hit one too many long balls, but kept Nagbe relatively quiet. 6

M Osvaldo Alonso — Always wins a lot of tackles, but his impact has to go beyond that. Was sloppy in possession and appeared a bit reckless at times. Unnecessarily hit out on Chara at one point. The play didn’t look bad live, but the replay showed a little more than I remembered. Conceded some dangerous fouls. Long distance shots were way off. Had issues sorting out positioning with Carrasco, where it got a little cluttered at times. 5.5

M Servando Carrasco — Didn’t have a lot of notes on him. Didn’t contribute much in the attacking third when he was the more advanced CM. Provides a tough, physical presence in the middle, which proved valuable at times. Took some set pieces too. Much stronger in the second half, especially early on. Impact was quite limited. If Hurtado wasn’t whistled for fouling Zizzo, he might’ve been. 4.5

M Alvaro Fernandez — Easily the star of the night, for both teams in my opinion. Great in possession and combo play. Didn’t put too many feet wrong. Drew some fouls. Won a bunch of headers. Class touch and finish for the go-ahead goal. Also could’ve easily had an assist by flicking on a corner kick to Montero at the far post. Tracked back and had some good moments on defense. A complete performance. That call-up — an official one this time — would be greatly deserved. 8

M Brad Evans (off 42) — Had a strong header on a Wahl cross go wide. Mostly struggled to get involved on the right with balls going out of bounds. Beat by Alhassan at one point. Had a very dangerous cross from the left and injured himself on another. A frustrating early exit, because Sounders FC is 3-1-2 in games he goes 90 minutes, 0-2-3 without. 5

F Fredy Montero — Set up the goal very well, impressively winning a header between Brunner and Hall. Also helped set up a Jaqua chance. Hit the side netting a couple times, first on a free kick and then on a far-post header — he probably should’ve done better on the latter. Took a couple good licks, but didn’t have the full impact of a guy honored on two pregame displays. Could’ve had a memorable night, but has still been involved in a scoring play in six-straight games. 5.5

F Nate Jaqua (off 79) — I shared this note on Twitter. He’s played eight games, made three starts, played 341 minutes in total and has zero goals, zero assists and one shot on goal. Offensive woes were compounded by losing Danso on the goal. Hold-up play was so-so. Did get involved in a couple moments of combo play. Might’ve had a chance early in the second half, but he couldn’t get a shot off. Cleared a couple defensive headers, but needs to get more involved in goal-scoring chances. 3.5

SUBSTITUTIONS

M/F Roger Levesque (on 42) — Pressed into early service where he played on the right to start before moving up top later on. Was involved in the buildup to the goal and actually earned his first-ever MLS assist. Also helped set up a Jaqua chance and nearly pounced on a Perkins slip. Was curiously caught offside to ruin some great build-up. Would’ve confirmed his hero status in the rivalry had his cross, which might’ve hit Danso’s arm, earned a late PK. 5.5

M Lamar Neagle (on 79) — Pretty sure he started on the right, then went to the left. Not very involved on either side. I think he got a cross in at one point. INC

COACH SIGI SCHMID

Had a couple reasons for the team’s less-than-stellar play in postgame: A) ref gave Portland a lot of free kicks, B) injuries, C) the weather. I certainly buy the impact of injuries. A little less on Marrufo. And even if the weather bit had some truth to it, it came off wrong. The injuries couldn’t be ignored though. Five of the team’s top seven attacking players were unavailable. As critical as you want to be, that’s going to have a big impact in the offensive third. That said, Schmid seemed to concede the Alonso-Carrasco experiment didn’t work out in the middle. Personally, I would’ve started Evans there once Friberg was ruled out. A lot of people are up in arms about Parke and Fucito not playing, but I’m not sure those were main issues Saturday. It was just a substandard performance. Ultimately, a disappointing result for the team and the fans, but not a catastrophic one. It might’ve felt like a loss in the end, but it wasn’t one. 4

REFEREE JAIR MARRUFO

Very strange that no cards were handed out. I think Alonso, Jewsbury and Wallace each could’ve been booked at various times. Very quick on the whistle, especially in Seattle’s defensive third. Schmid pointed that out and for the most part I agreed with it upon second look. Drew too much attention to himself. 4

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What do you think? I get it wrong somewhere?

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