Another midweek game got me a little behind on this one, but what a performance it was. The first half was absolutely sensational soccer and could’ve been worse than 4-0 for my money.
It was certainly a day to remember for Lamar Neagle as well. The local product from Federal Way recorded the franchise’s second hat-trick and (teaser alert!) could be looking at the highest mark for a Sounders player in the two years I’ve done these ratings.
The defense lost some points in the second half as Columbus pulled a couple goals back and might’ve had some others, but all in all there wasn’t too much to complain about. Let’s get to it:
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GK Kasey Keller — First test produced an uncharacteristic spill, when he couldn’t control a manageable Mendoza shot and conceded a rebound chance to Renteria. The crossbar saved him on another Mendoza chance. Came off his line very well throughout the game and was particularly strong with saves on Mendoza, Burns, Heinemann and Meram. Could do nothing on the penalty kick and can’t really be blamed for the free-kick goal. Defense didn’t entirely help him out and he did his best to organize them. 6.5
D James Riley — Picked up his second assist of the season by racing to beat the ball to the endline and finding Neagle at the far post. Had some other great crosses as well. His relationship with Rosales continues to develop well as he pushes forward down the right. Was quite strong in defense with only a couple slips, particularly when Mendoza beat him to a cross for a shot off the crossbar. Mostly good on the ball. A very positive showing. 7
D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado — Matched up with Renteria for most of the game and got the better of him for the majority of it. Did get turned and beat a couple times, however. Was also whistled for what appeared to be a phantom foul in the box (maybe he just slightly caught him a little, hard to tell). Won a large percentage of headers and tackles. Was safe with his clearances. Was beaten badly by Meram late in the second half, but went unpunished for it. When he was good he was very good, but had a couple slip-ups. 6
D Jeff Parke (off 75) — Remarkably hadn’t earned a yellow card until Saturday. Unfortunately that takedown of Renteria led to Gardner’s free-kick goal. Other than that — and when Dilly Duka broke his ankles on a move in the box — he was pretty solid. Had some good long balls and distribution. Workmanlike in defense (blocking shots, clearing danger, winning headers) before coming off early. 6.5
D Tyson Wahl — Had a team-high 107 touches and was mixed when it came to possession. I thought quite a few of his passes were off. Did have the throw-in toward Fucito that led to the PK. Won his share of headers and was good in defense, though he did allow Duka way too much space to send in a dangerous cross to Mendoza for the shot that hit the crossbar. 5.5
M Osvaldo Alonso — I had an amazingly small amount of notes for him in the first half, mostly because Columbus never had the ball for him to take. One note was very significant though as a phenomenal win in midfield sparked the team’s third goal. Involvement boomed in the second half, where he was very disruptive. Saw a lot more of the ball and was great in distribution and switches. Picked up an assist on Neagle’s third goal. For the game he completed over 86-percent of his passes, which is strong. A little sloppy late, including one turnover that nearly led to a goal. Not enough to spoil a strong night, however. 7.5
M Erik Friberg — A strong yet subtle performance that you have to see again to appreciate. His positioning was incredible all over the field, which allowed him to win a lot of second balls and possession. Also very good on the ball, completing 34 of his 39 passes. Did well to block some shots in defense. Was a little loose in his defending of a dangerous Cunningham cross, but again, it was a showing that was appreciated much more upon a second viewing. 7
M Lamar Neagle — Masterful. His hat trick has to go down as one of the great individual achievements in franchise history. If we’re being honest, the first goal was very fortunate, but shows the importance of keeping shots on frame. Second goal was, as coach Sigi Schmid said, clinical. Third goal was exquisite. Was involved in the buildup to the fourth goal and had the cross on the own goal to cap the scoring. And his performance was a lot more than the goals. Was very strong in the air and Keller actually targeted him on punts and goal kicks. Put in a solid showing on defense. Set up his teammates a couple times, but Fucito and Montero couldn’t quite reach the passes. Might’ve had another goal if Burns didn’t trip him up just outside the box on a breakaway chance set up by Rosales. You can see his confidence growing in the touches he takes and moves he makes. Wasn’t quite flawless though as he was a little poor in possession, misfiring on over one-third of his passes. Still good enough for my highest rating in some 55 games of doing this. 9.5
M Mauro Rosales (off 71) — MLS Player of the Month snub just had another ho-hum, one-goal/two-assist performance. The day actually got off to a little sloppy start in terms on possession and an open shot hit right at Hesmer. Then went on a tear. Disrupted Columbus’ defense into an error that led to an open Montero shot. Then he calmly converted a PK for his fourth goal in six games. Made a lot of late runs for his teammates and a lot of times the ball didn’t come. Set up Riley for his assist on Neagle’s second goal and also had the little chip that Fucito ran onto for the team’s fourth goal. Always good for a couple fouls drawn and moments of great skill, including a picture-perfect through ball to Neagle that set up a foul. Had his influence all over the success before an early exit. 8
F Fredy Montero — Deserved more than just one assist on the day. Was extremely active in possession and combining. Involved in a lot of great buildup, including a clever back-heel that led to an open Rosales shot. Also set up a wayward Neagle shot. Fired his own attempt wide with an open chance in the 13th minute that he’d love to have back. Had a secondary assist on Fucito’s goal. In the second half had a couple great shots — one of which was deflected out for a corner kick and another produced a huge save from Hesmer. Frustrating for him I’m sure, but his breakthrough came a couple days later in the Open Cup. 6.5
F Mike Fucito (off 78) — Played a part in all four first-half goals for my money. Had the holdup play to set up the first. Then the clever spin-move that set up the second. One he might not get credit for is the near-post run on Riley’s cross that drew a defender and left Neagle unmarked at the far post for the third. Then beat Chad Marshall, one of the best defenders in MLS history, to the ball on the fourth. Certainly his impact varies on each of those goals (some were quite minor), but that’s pretty dang good. Took some decent corner kicks and even won some big defensive headers, which isn’t quite his forte. Involvement in the second half was a little muted. Gardner’s goal buzzed right over his head and then the Crew defender knocked in the own goal as he waited for Neagle’s cross at the far post. Holdup play and possession was solid. Let’s see if that breakthrough goal in MLS leads to more. 7.5
M Alvaro Fernandez (on 71) — Only played about 20 minutes but saw a lot of the ball. Good in possession and set up Neagle’s cross on the sixth goal. Bringing him in off the bench up four goals is quite the luxury. Had a great chance in the 89th minute, combining well with Jaqua and opting to pass to Montero instead. 6
D Zach Scott (on 75) — Came on for Parke at the end. Troubled Meram’s shot after Hurtado was beat. Then was booked for a heavy challenge on Rogers. Beaten by Heinemann a couple times. 5
F Nate Jaqua (on 78) — Not enough time to garner a rating, but his combo play with Flaco in the 89th minute was quality stuff. INC
COACH SIGI SCHMID
Starting Neagle over Fernandez proved to be a great move. Sticking with Fucito was as well. Again, it was one of the six games in an 18-day stretch and his management of the roster, as general manager Adrian Hanauer said Tuesday, has been “ridiculously brilliant.” Continues to confound his former team and this time it was in dominating fashion. 8.5
REFEREE BALDOMERO TOLEDO
For my money, both PKs were harsh, but I guess that’s consistency. It’s always harder to evaluate these performances in a blowout and I don’t think he gave either team a huge advantage. Some calls had me scratching my head, but it didn’t get out of hand. An average, acceptable performance in this league. 5.5
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What do you think? Who did I get right? Who’d I get wrong?