Photo credit: Brandon Wade, Getty Images
I know many of you are still on a Monterrey high, but let’s not forget the Sounders went down to Dallas in the 100-degree heat over the weekend and earned a hard-fought 1-0 win to jump into second place in the West.
The last two games were actually quite similar. The Sounders were underdogs in each, and earning a point wouldn’t have been the worst result, but both times they managed to take a first-half lead. Then, under heavy fire, Seattle’s defense and goalkeeping were able to make the one goal hold up.
I thought the back line was tremendous in Dallas. That’s two shutouts in a row in league and one goal allowed in the last four games in all competitions. Let’s get to it.
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GK Kasey Keller — In the broadcast you hear him organizing and motivating. His defenders responded, blocking dozens of shots and crosses. When they didn’t Keller was there, making big stops on Ihemelu and Chavez. Handled crosses and time-wasting well. Came up huge, as coach Sigi Schmid said, in a late stoppage-time flurry to preserve the win. 8
D Zach Scott — Was great on Brek Shea in the first meeting this season, but I wasn’t sure if the injury situation would allow him to play again on the right. It did. And he was very good again. Was the victim of a quick-whistle ref several times (mostly unfairly, in my opinion), but was very strong in the air and throwing his body around. His throw-ins can be a weapon, too, and actually sparked a dangerous attack with one. Did get beat a couple times and the passing was a little inconsistent, but seeing Shea run over to the right to avoid him was very telling. 7.5
D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado — His first league game back was a strong one. You could tell there were a couple instances of him not being 100-percent, especially in committing quite a few fouls. He was actually fortunate not to get whistled for a PK considering how the ref was calling the game. Rightly called offside on what appeared to be a goal. He’ll get stronger, but this was a solid return. 7
D Jeff Parke — Another tremendous performance. The only negative note I had was getting beat by Maicon Santos for a header, but he was probably fouled on the play. Otherwise it was a lot of headers won, tackles made, shots/crosses blocked and crucial clearances. Distribution from the back was also quite good. Probably one of the more underrated players in the league. 8
D Leo Gonzalez — Might be due for some more first-team playing time after this one. I thought he was extremely good on the left. Strong in the air and was good on the ball. Shea tried to find success on his side of the field, switching midway through the game, but didn’t find much. Didn’t provide much in the attack, but defensively he was on point, especially in the second half. 7.5
M Osvaldo Alonso — My list of notes was quite small for him, meaning he wasn’t as involved as you’d like. The chalkboard on MLSsoccer.com credited him with only 59 touches, which isn’t enough. Ricardo Villar on the other side had 111. That doesn’t discredit his defensive impact, which was quite strong. Could’ve been more assertive in holding possession and distributing though. Conceded a few fouls as well. 5.5
M Erik Friberg (off 62) — A quiet night, in my opinion. Got off to a tough start by earning a booking on an exchange it looked like he got the worst of. First half had some moments of good possession and defending, but got a little sloppy with the ball in the second half before an early exit. 5
M Lamar Neagle — An understated performance that I thought was much better upon a second viewing. Was put in some difficult spots with the ball, but handled them well. Was surprisingly good in the air. It wasn’t the best touch, but he was involved in the sequence leading to Rosales’ goal with the pass that Ihemelu misplayed. Had some decent crosses too, including one to Flaco that was headed wide. 6
F/M Mauro Rosales — Clash finish proved to be the winner and also his third goal in five games (who says he’s not a goal scorer?). Free-kick service was good and would’ve had an assist if Hurtado was onside. Drew a handful of fouls. Was a little off in the possession/passing game, both as a midfielder and later as a withdrawn forward, which keeps the rating from being higher. 7
F Fredy Montero (off 68) — Another Sounders who was knocked around, but got a lot of the calls this time. Also committed his share, but those calls were a little sketchy. Assist to Rosales was Grade-A skill, first he drew the defense and then he impeccably set up the shot with a great touch. Had some close moments on goal with a deflected free-kick and an overhead attempt. 6
F Mike Fucito (off 78) — Holdup play was mostly good, which actually led to the initial buildup to the goal. Also had a dangerous run down the right early on that could’ve led to better from his teammates. Handed out and absorbed some punishment, getting a bloody nose at one point. Really didn’t have many, if any, goal-dangerous moments though. 5.5
M Brad Evans (on 62) — Boosted the possession game, which was important with the man advantage, but something the Sounders weren’t doing well. Won some headers and very nearly curled in a shot for a second goal. 6
M Alvaro Fernandez (on 68) — Solid impact on both sides of the ball. Early involvement was defensive, but also did a great job holding onto the ball. Had a header go wide that he’d like back, but was a solid inclusion. 6
F Pat Noonan (on 78) — Another sub that helped out in possession. INC
COACH SIGI SCHMID
As I mentioned on Twitter, he’s done an amazing job managing the squad and getting results during this busy stretch, even when his team isn’t controlling the game. Starting Fucito was the right call. All the subs had a strong influence and improved the Sounders’ play. It wasn’t the prettiest game, but considering the opponent and conditions, those are three huge points. 8
REFEREE DAVID GANTAR
If anything he was consistent. Consistently frustrating. 41 fouls called didn’t allow for any rhythm to the game, which might’ve actually helped the Sounders. The second yellow card to Cruz for diving was extremely harsh. A lot of the foul calls were plain wrong in my view. Tried to keep it from getting out of hand, but overcompensated way too far in the other direction for me. 3.5
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What do you think? Who’s too high? Too low?