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June 1, 2011 at 12:04 AM

Sounders FC vs. Real Salt Lake, player ratings

ianni rsl.jpgPhoto credit: Mike Terry, The Seattle Times

I thought Sounders FC would be able to sneak out of Rio Tinto Stadium with a point in my prediction; certainly no one can be disappointed with earning three. In the Kansas City game it was the unlikely duo of Tyson Wahl and Jeff Parke that connected on the winner. This time it was Patrick Ianni and Lamar Neagle with the goals — who would’ve guessed?

Undoubtedly Real Salt Lake bossed various parts of the match, but that was to be expected. The back five was intact and so was the midfield, so while Jason Kreis’ side had some personnel issues, the home team still fielded a strong side.

Breaking a 29-game home unbeaten streak deserves some high marks, even if it wasn’t picture perfect…

* * *

STARTERS

GK Kasey Keller — Pretty quiet in the first half, making comfortable saves on Alexandre and Johnson. Shined brightest in the early moments of the second half with a remarkable stop on Espindola’s deflected shot and another tremendous save on Olave. To be fair, on the latter he had to made the tip save off the crossbar because he came off his line, but then realized he couldn’t get to the ball in time. Also misjudged a cross later in the half, but those are the only complaints. Showed strong hands on a late shot by Johnson. Just survived all the late pressure, including a late scramble. 8.5

D James Riley — Nearly flawless in the first half. Especially sharp early offensively, both in possession and pushing forward to hit some crosses. Strong defensively as well. Struggled a bit more in the second half. Defense stayed consistent, but he had too many giveaways. Also booked for time wasting. 6

D Patrick Ianni — Got the goal, ending a 41-game scoreless streak. Was also beaten badly on RSL’s goal by Gonzalez. Perhaps those two are close to a wash. Other than that there weren’t a whole lot of notes. Strong in the air and in defense. Had an unfortunate deflection nearly lead to Olave’s goal. 6.5

D Jeff Parke — Came somewhat close to another goal, but Beckerman cleared his header off a corner kick. Otherwise pretty quiet in the first half. Had a flurry of defensive stops in a short span of the second half. Was fortunate to deflect Espindola’s shot closer to Keller. Also pretty quiet in terms of notes. 6

D Tyson Wahl — Doesn’t just provide good set-piece service. His assist came from the run of play, and he also hits good long balls at a high percentage. Found Jaqua’s head a couple times, once on a narrowly missed kick and also the corner kick on the first goal. Took out Espindola to earn his second career yellow card late, and was also troubled by the Argentine a few times defensively. 6.5

M Osvaldo Alonso — Got off to a very good start, especially with possession in the middle of the field. Had some shots way off target, but one of ’em ate up Rimando, which earned the goal-scoring corner kick. On the negative side, he had the giveaway that helped lead to RSL’s goal. 6

M Alvaro Fernandez (off 18) — Shown wincing on the pregame show when his hamstring was being worked on by head trainer Randy Noteboom. Surely no one thought anything of it at the time. Was active early, but his touch was off. Another had a bad giveaway before going down in the 16th minute. As I tweeted during the game, it’s hard to blame him for trying to play through the injury after Schmid told him to man up. INC

M Erik Friberg (off 81) — Contributions were mostly on the defensive end, where his work rate always helps. Had a few too many giveaways — one led to an Alexandre shot and another nearly set up an Espindola goal. Not enough notes, suggesting he got a little lost in the game at times. 4.5

M Brad Evans — Was able to put in a full 90, continuing a trend of Sounders FC success when that happens. Committed to keeping possession and provided some calm in the midfield. Definitely got knocked around a bit; one tackle earning a yellow card. Otherwise the impact was a bit limited. 5

F Mike Fucito (off 69) — Produced the game-changing play, when he beat Olave to earn the red card. Gave the big Colombian headaches a few times, but his impact was a bit inconsistent. Had a couple quiet spells. Put in the effort as always, which led to some RSL giveaways. Ultimately another positive performance 6.5

F Nate Jaqua — I think this was his best performance of the year. Very active and involved in the buildup to key plays. Won the header that set up the first goal. Also involved in possession before Neagle’s goal. You might not have noticed that his nice flick header to Fucito put his forward partner in position to earn Olave’s red card. Beat his mark on a free kick header, but knocked it wide. Also won a couple other crosses. Made an impact defensively in the air and also by blocking a late shot by Borchers. Put in a full 90. We’ll see if it wins him any fans. 7.5

SUBSTITUTIONS

M Lamar Neagle (on 18) — Took him a couple minutes to get sharp, which isn’t too hard to understand considering he came in on short notice. Had some good crosses, flicks and earned an early shot on Rimando. His immaculate goal was the highlight of the night and perhaps the MLS Goal of the Week. Was active on both ends of the field and also helped set up shots by Fucito and Alonso. Surely earned some more playing time. 7.5

F Fredy Montero (on 69) — Came off the bench and made an impact. Made a good run and put in a good cross early. First goal took a deflection off him. Took a couple shots, including one that troubled Rimando. Definitely involved, but will it be enough to get back in the lineup? 6

M Roger Levesque (on 81) — Provided defensive cover in midfield with his fresh legs. INC

COACH SIGI SCHMID

Dropping Montero to the bench was the coaching move that lingers into this week. The impact of which will be seen in the future. Picking Lamar Neagle as a long-term sub for Flaco was clearly the right choice. Midfield still hoping to click, but all the other position groups were sharp. Escaped Rio Tinto with the win, which will be one to remember for a while. 7.5

REFEREE MARK KADLECIK

His big moment was the Olave decision and he got it right. Certainly had me shaking my head on a couple calls (Fucito’s handball, Jaqua’s foul while holding off Borchers), but those didn’t impact the game much. Could’ve been more authoritative and not let Espindola mess around with the ball or let Beckerman try to stop him from issuing the red card. Certainly above the league standard on the night. 6

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Strongly agree or disagree with any of this? Let me know in the comments section…

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