Apologies for the delay, but another two-game week had me a little behind. What a bizarre game Saturday was. A head-scratching own goal. Another penalty-kick miss. A couple ejections (one deserved). The “Twilight Zone” reference from Arlo White was certainly one way to describe it.
Real Salt Lake is a great team and it’s no surprise Jason Kreis’ side was able to capitalize on Sounders FC’s mistakes, but Seattle actually had a lot to like. Aside from his miss from the spot, Mauro Rosales was remarkably active. His relationship on the right with James Riley continues to improve. Fredy Montero continued his scoring run.
Disappointment will be quickly forgotten if another good run begins (one that perhaps started Wednesday with a big CCL road win in Costa Rica). Let’s get to it.
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GK Kasey Keller — It only took 30-some games for him to have a really soft goal. I think the own goal resonates a bit more just because the manner in which it was scored was so unusual, but it’s going to happen to a goalkeeper every now and then. Was comfortable making saves on Will Johnson (2) and Fabian Espindola. No chance on Alvaro Saborio’s goal. An error to forget and I’m sure it’s forgotten. 3.5
D James Riley — I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a player so involved. Certainly the 10-v-10 action on a big field suited him. He’s a great shape and there was space to be had. The result? 184 touches (at least two every minute!), including 86 completed passes — both surely season highs for the team. His work on the right with Mauro Rosales is getting better every week. The possession game was strong, as were most of the crosses. Espindola did beat him pretty easily on the cross for the own goal, but everyone was a bit flustered by the quick restart. Was also beaten by Will Johnson once. Drew Tony Beltran’s first booking. Might’ve had a goal, but his great look was deflected. Again, was all over the place. 7
D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado — A short night, unfortunately. Was authoritative in winning some headers, but it all comes down to the 39th-minute incident. I couldn’t believe he was red carded. Sure, the arm comes up a little bit to shield the ball (so maybe a yellow was justified) but it’s a play you see dozens of times in a game. Alvaro Saborio made the most of it and it provided the ref a chance to even things out after the first red card. It’s really unfair that he’s suspended for Saturday’s game, but raising the arm can be dangerous and the team suffered for it. 3
D Jeff Parke — Active in a lot of aspects Saturday. Provided a great target on corner kicks, but couldn’t quite get a good chance on goal. Also distributed very well, including on the free kick to Rosales that set up the goal. Was beaten for a dangerous cross in the first half and also had the giveaway that led to a Johnson chance. Mostly solid yet again. 6
D Tyson Wahl — His second goal of his career seemed destined to come if not for a face save by Nick Rimando. Was also unfortunate on Saborio’s goal. He blocked the first shot, but an attempted clearance was gathered easily by the Costa Rican to set up the game-winner. Also gave Espindola quite a bit of space for a second-half shot. Versatility helped immensely after Hurtado was sent off and he had a handful of good headers and tackles. Possession was pretty good. Ultimately a mixed bag. 5
M Osvaldo Alonso — I thought he was at his defensive best at times in this one. Facing RSL’s vaunted midfield was always going to be a challenge and he stepped up. Had a number of wins to get the ball back and was ever tenacious. Possession was good, but maybe he could’ve been a little more incisive in the final third. Switched the ball well at times and nearly set up Mike Fucito for a great chance. Drew a late booking that puts him one away from suspension. 6.5
M Erik Friberg (off 31) — More misfortune for the Sounders as a hip injury forced his early exit. Had a couple poor touches to start, but was settling into the game. Had a nice touch to set up Fucito on what eventually turned into the PK. 5
M Mauro Rosales — Again, the day will be remembered for the PK miss. It’s unfortunate, but that miss was crucial. He’s now the third Sounders to miss from the spot this year and fifth in the last three years. Other than that, he was extremely influential in the action. If it wasn’t service of free kick and corner kicks, it was countless crosses from the right wreaking havoc. The assist, which tied a team record for a season at 10, was actually from the left and was extremely well done. Drew Beltran’s second yellow and is starting to get more respect from the refs. The big miss looms large. 5.5
M Alvaro Fernandez (off 65) — Very early in the game he made a great run to the right and had a cheeky back-heel in some brilliant buildup. Such is the skill he provides, but he doesn’t often get to combine with Rosales since they’re often on opposite sides of the field. Almost drew another PK when he was hammered in the air while challenging for a ball in the box. Had some giveaways and was tackled off the ball a couple times. Might’ve liked to see him get on the end of a couple more crosses. I thought he struggled a little bit as the shape shifted after the Hurtado ejection. 5
F Fredy Montero — Very active first half. Put himself in good positions and holdup play was above average. Did have a few too many turnovers and giveaways in bad spots. Won a cross by Rosales to set up Riley’s chance in the box, but it was deflected out. Great combo play with Rosales resulted in a phenomenal goal that got a little lost in all the other madness. Distribution was good at times. I would’ve liked to see him on the ball a little more. 6.5
F Mike Fucito (off 73) — Harassed the RSL center backs and I’m sure he won’t be getting a Christmas card from Jamison Olave anytime soon. Had a couple good flicks and was just a split second away from getting on the end of a couple crosses. Did well to earn the PK and give his team a chance to respond almost immediately to the own goal. Took some decent set pieces as well. 6
M Servando Carrasco (on 31) — If I played, I’d want to be on this guy’s team because he can dole out some punishment. Got away with an early tug and then was booked for a heavy challenge on Johnson in the air. He’ll be suspended Saturday. Won a lot of crucial headers defensively. Kept things running smoothly in the middle after Friberg’s departure. 5.5
M Lamar Neagle (on 65) — An immediate spark and really embraced the role of taking guys on. Drew a booking on Andy Williams. A lot of positives and earned some corner kicks. Might’ve tied it up in the 90th minute if not for his shot being deflected. 6
F Pat Noonan (on 73) — Combined well with Neagle a few times and nearly set up that 90th minute equalizer. Had a decent impact in the limited time. 5.5
COACH SIGI SCHMID
Hard to blame him for two of the crucial mistakes (Keller’s own goal and Rosales’ PK miss). His team certainly deserved more by the run of play. Maybe Neagle could’ve come on earlier? I thought the 3-4-2 actually worked out decently well and the approach stayed offensive-minded throughout the chaos. 5.5
REFEREE MARK KADLECIK
The Hurtado decision even had the opposing coach saying it was the wrong decision, which is usually a tell-tale sign you missed it. Other bookings were fair, I thought, but if you have the confidence to rightly send Beltran off early for two bad fouls, you can’t immediately start looking to even things out. You never want the refs to be noticeable. He very much was. 3
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What do you think? Who’d I get wrong? Did I get anything right?