Photo credit: Bob Levey, Getty Images
The nine-game MLS unbeaten streak ended Saturday in Houston. It was a convincing loss. It was a deserved loss. The Sounders were simply not good enough on the day. The offense wasn’t good. The defense wasn’t good either.
Certainly everyone will try to find reasons — legitimate or forced — to explain such an occurrence. Was it the travel? Was it the heat? Was it an off day? Was it because of Manchester United? Was it the Cascade Shale? Was it the pregame meal?
I think they played a motivated, underachieving, talented team that’s very good at home. Seattle hadn’t lost an MLS road game since May 4. If the Sounders are still struggling in a couple weeks, then it’ll be time to panic, in my opinion at least.
Let’s get to it.
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GK Kasey Keller — To me, he was the best Sounder on the day and I doubt there will be much arguing of this one. The game might’ve gotten out of hand if not for his saves. He nearly stopped Clark’s first goal, but couldn’t be blamed for any of Houston scores. Handled chances by Ching, Moffat (2), Cameron, Weaver and Garey very well. 7.5
D James Riley — Remarkably, some of the best and most incisive passes in Houston’s side of the field were from him. His 145 touches were a game-high by far, as were his 69 passes completed. Was beaten by Ching to a dangerous header in the first half and then later for the final goal in the second half. Beyond that I thought his two-way performance was the best by a Sounders field player. 6
D Patrick Ianni — A difficult night. Scrambled early in the game to concede a corner kick after a bad mistake. Missed a header that allowed Ching an easy look for the second goal. Was also beaten by Ching and Weaver on other chances, and didn’t connect well on his long balls. Very strong in the air all over the field and was involved on set pieces going forward. 3.5
D Jeff Parke — Made several strong tackles and won a fair amount of headers. Like Ianni, was pulled out of the middle on Houston’s first goal. Along with Wahl, left Clark free to set up the Dynamo’s third (though Clark appeared to be offside). Had some decent moments going forward as well. 5
D Tyson Wahl — Was in the shot for all three of Houston’s goals. Couldn’t quite clear the ball on the first goal. Ching wasn’t his mark on the second, but he was nearby. Clark split him and Parke to set up the third (which, again, had questions of offside). Also had issued in the possession game and misfired on a few passes. Set-piece service was solid. 4
M Osvaldo Alonso — Didn’t have the impact we’re used to. Whiffed on a defensive header that set up Houston’s first goal. Passes, the cross-field switches in particular, were a little off. Had some solid moments in defending and set up Seattle’s goal with a steal in the offensive third and cross. 5
M Erik Friberg — Was good in possession, but rarely found the probing passes forward to create danger. Was caught forward a couple times as Houston found space in the middle. Had a good moment in the second half with a dummy and a run forward, but Montero couldn’t deliver the pass. Hit the post on a shot, but it was just before the final whistle. 4.5
M Alvaro Fernandez (off 78) — Skied a third-minute chance that might’ve changed things, but the ‘What if’ game can run you in circles. Drew some fouls, earned a booking and was always around a little feisty action (including a two-handed shove by Clark that went unpunished). Calmly finished the PK to earn his sixth goal, putting him in a tie for the team lead. Did appears to lose possession quite a bit and had some issues with Freeman. Had some decent moments in the second half, but ultimately a mixed performance. 5.5
F/M Mauro Rosales — Probably the least involved he’s been in a game. Wasn’t on the same page with Levesque a couple times. Struggled in other moments as well, losing possession and misfiring on passes. Wasn’t able to produce a lot of crosses in the run of play and his impact was also limited as a withdrawn forward. 4.5
F Roger Levesque (off 57) — Had a couple good moments in the first half, setting up Flaco’s early chance and Montero’s foul in the penalty box. Otherwise his impact was limited. I thought the holdup and aerial play could’ve been stronger. Struggled to connect with Rosales a couple times and ultimately came off early. 4
F Fredy Montero (off 67) — A frustrating night. I think he only took one shot on the night and it was blocked. Did draw the PK, but danger was otherwise limited from him. Was affected by the physical play, I think, and went to ground a lot. Possession and holdup play was good. Also had the quick throw-in that sprung Flaco’s early chance. 4.5
F Nate Jaqua (on 57) — Had a good impact on the game I felt. Holdup play was good and he connected on some dangerous passes in the offensive third. Found some space and the ball often on the right. 5.5
M Pat Noonan (on 67) — Not super involved, but might’ve had a breakaway chance (where it looked like he was tugged down). Also had a late shot and nearly set up a Friberg goal just before the final whistle. 5
M Mike Fucito (on 78) — Came on late on the left. Earned a booking. INC
COACH SIGI SCHMID
Hard to argue much with the lineup choices or the subs, though Lamar Neagle might’ve been the only one I thought could’ve had an impact. Maybe the physical presence of someone like Carrasco might’ve helped, but that’s hindsight. The Sounders struggled in all aspects, but that’s been more of the exception to recent form in MLS. How will they respond? 5
REFEREE NIKO BRATSIS
Missed some obvious calls. Also let the game get physical, but that’s bound to happen in MLS. Got the PK call right and the bookings were fair — though he missed the Clark shove on Fernandez. Maybe he didn’t have the best game, but that doesn’t excuse Seattle’s performance. 4
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What do you think?