Photo credit: Otto Greule Jr., Getty Images
This picture has made the rounds and it perfectly covers the night. Sounders FC was on the verge of a disappointing tie, but Jeff Parke rescued it, earning MLS Player of the Week honors along the way. The entire defense drew high marks from me on the night in earning the shutout.
The offense was another story. Not a lot of opportunities created. A lot of semi-chances, but some guys seemed hesitant to pull the trigger. Some over-thinking it seems.
That isn’t to say Seattle didn’t deserve the win. There was some decent possession work, even if the diamond midfield got a bit lopsided. The pressure Sounders FC created in the last 20 minutes was worthy of a goal, even if it came in dramatic fashion in the final minutes. Let’s get to it.
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GK Kasey Keller — Had to come up big early on an open shot by Ryan Smith. Also had a strong punch save on a Omar Bravo free kick, taking a hit from a big center-back in the process. Came off his line to stop Kei Kamara breakaway chance. Organized things in the back and distributed to his defenders well. 6
D James Riley — One of his better games without a doubt. Was sublime with his passing, both long balls and combo play. Got forward on the right. Produced some good crosses. Reliable in defense. Set up Mike Fucito with a shot that looked a lot like last year’s winner. Even got involved in set pieces. 7
D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado — Was the nearest defender amid K.C.’s best chances through Smith and Bravo early. Also almost had a disastrous own goal that would’ve gutted everyone. Other than that was very steady and strong with his headers and tackles. Even set the pick on Espinoza to free up Parke on the winner. 6
D Jeff Parke — The man of the night. That game-winning header will be remembered as one of the standout goals of 2011. Won a lot of headers defensively as well. Contributes a lot in the possession game for a center back with standout distribution. Deserves the MLS Player of the Week. 8
D Tyson Wahl — Will be remembered for the winning assist, but he had another solid night otherwise. Took set pieces well. Had a great long ball to Montero in the first minute that nearly got the hosts on the board. Pushed forward and made good runs on the left. Not as much to do defensively. 7
M Osvaldo Alonso — For some reason the ref kept getting in his way, but his defensive presence was strong. Was much better in possession, which was good to see, but still had a couple giveaways. Whistled a left-footed shot over the crossbar in the first half. Was booked for breaking up a counter at one point. 6
M Servando Carrasco (off 55) — Pushed out to the right, which surely required some adjustment. Took a bit to get involved (Schmid mentioned he drifted out too wide, but I’m here to rate his impact and not how he followed the game plan). Was surprisingly strong in the air and won a lot of headers. Defensive tenacity showed, maybe a bit too much in drawing another yellow card. Touch was off in the attacking third, but that will come if he stays out on the right and continues to play in that role. 5
M Alvaro Fernandez — Had about as many bad giveaways in the first half as he had in the previous three weeks combined. Had a handful of good moments (headers won, drew fouls, a dummy to set up Montero, cross to Rosales), but wasn’t as involved as he has been and needs to be. Perhaps that was due to the lopsided diamond, but some falls on him. Was booked for time wasting and was quiet in the second half. 4.5
M Mauro Rosales (off 69) — A welcome addition in a new role as a central playmaking midfielder. Brought flair and creativity. Drew fouls. Combined quite a few times. Tracked back occasionally. Set up Alonso’s shot and had a couple good crosses. Couldn’t direct Flaco’s cross on goal well enough. Booked for a bad tackle from behind, which could’ve been worse than a yellow. 6
F/M Fredy Montero (off 90+) — Was credited with a shot in the 11th minute with a header while falling backwards. Didn’t take another shot all game, in fact passing up a couple uncharacteristically. Couldn’t quite get to a Wahl long ball early and had a few giveaways. Playmaking and combining were good, but crosses didn’t lead to much danger. Drew some fouls but is still always knocked around. Moved back to the CAM role when Rosales came off. The streak of being involved in a scoring play ended. 4.5
F/M Roger Levesque — Few notes for him as he moved back into the starting lineup. Would’ve like to see better holdup play from the bigger forward, but that’s probably not his forte. Buzzed around like he always does. Did help set up Flaco’s cross to Rosales. Pushed off the ball often. Moved to the right in the end. 4
F Nate Jaqua (on 55) — Made his target presence felt early by winning a header on a goal kick. Holdup play was mixed but he was active. Skillfully set up a Fucito chance on goal. 5.5
F Mike Fucito (on 69) — Had a number of chances, in fact a game-high three shots, in his short time. Took a corner himself after earning one, but it missed everyone. Had many in the stadium thinking another he had another dramatic winner up his sleeve, but perhaps needed to pull the trigger earlier on some chances. 5.5
D Patrick Ianni (on 90+) — Came on to waste a little time and provide a bigger body in the back for the closing minutes. INC
COACH SIGI SCHMID
Obviously starting Parke was the biggest move of the night. I think diamonding the midfield paid off well too, particularly with Rosales. Couldn’t get the exact shape down perfect, but that happens with a new formation. Subs had immediate impacts. It wasn’t a vintage performance, but it’s a win. 5.5
REFEREE GEOFF GAMBLE
Certainly made his presence known, and not in a good way. Always seemed to be getting in Alonso’s way in the middle. Had a number of questionable calls and non-calls. Didn’t command enough respect. Though Sounders fans should be happy he whistled the play dead when Levesque played a throw-in in the end instead of what turned out to be the winning corner kick. 3.5
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Your turn? What ratings would you give?