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March 20, 2012 at 1:40 AM

Sounders FC 3, Toronto FC 1, player ratings

sivebaek toronto.jpgPhoto credit: Dean Rutz, The Seattle Times

David Estrada has been getting a lot of the attention recently, but make no mistake, Saturday’s opening-day win was a class performance all the way around. In addition to the goals, Alvaro Fernandez came close to an “assist hat-trick” and the back line was very strong.

One thing that stood out to me was the building out of the back. With Estrada and Fredy Montero as your forwards, it certainly makes sense to avoid booting restarts down the field, but I was impressed with how the defense handled those extra touches on the ball.

Very few bad showings in this one and, if we’re being honest, it seemed the game really changed with the Torsten Frings injury, but let’s get to it.

* * *

STARTERS

GK Michael Gspurning — Really didn’t have much to do early on. TFC’s Ryan Johnson hit a first-half header off the crossbar, but it was out of reach. The first shots on him weren’t too threatening. Was called upon much more in the second half and was strong on Soolsma (68′), Koevermans (71′) and a cross in the 77th minute. Couldn’t have done anything on Johnson’s goal, which coach Sigi Schmid called “a postage stamp … in the top corner” in a radio interview with KJR. 7

D Adam Johansson — Wasn’t as involved offensively as we’d seen in previous games, but still got forward quite a bit. Completed his passes at a good rate (49 of 57) and won six headers, which was more than I expected from him. Was beaten by Johnson for the early header that was saved by the crossbar, which was fortunate but worth noting. Had another shaky moment or two, but still more positive than not. 6

D Patrick Ianni — Schmid often lauds his depth at center back, largely because of Ianni, and I think he proved his coach right. Had a couple very good long balls to Estrada and Montero early on. Was very physical on Johnson and had the forward visibly frustrated — often. Went into the book for a foul on Avila and had some scattered bad touches, but a strong showing I felt. 7

D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado — Many might’ve thought he’d be the one to sit after what was obviously a night to forget in Torreon, but if players want to play immediately after a poor game, I’m sure he wanted to most of all. I felt he bounced back impressively. He was consistently strong in the air and on 1v1 tackles. Had a big sliding tackle on Johnson in the first half in the box. In the 60th minute, he even made a run forward and looked to find Flaco on a breakaway, but he was flagged offside on what was an extremely close call. Completed over 90-percent of his passes, too. Again, a strong rebound for him. 7.5

D Marc Burch — The newcomer got his first start and made the most of it, I feel. Had the assist on Estrada’s second goal with a perfectly placed through ball to the speedy forward. Didn’t push forward too much, but displayed the passing his coach has praised. Also went strong into a couple tackles on the defensive end. Might’ve closed Johnson down a little more on the goal and also was beat by Soolsma to a shot a few minutes later, but a good first showing fueled by the winning assist. 6.5

M Osvaldo Alonso — Was everywhere on the field and extremely active. His 107 touches were a team-high. Completed 50 of 57 passes and spread them all over the field. Had six successful tackles, a stat he’ll surely lead the league in again. Schmid was particularly happy with how he defended talented TFC rookie Luis Silva (who you might not have noticed was in the game at times). Had a handful of bad touches early in the first half, and that keeps the rating from being higher, but really settled in and dominated the rest of the way. Nearly had a second assist when he found Sivebaek well for an 85th minute cross that Levesque nearly finished. Did pick up a booking for a foul on Johnson, but as Kasey Keller noted on the broadcast, Ianni’s previous two fouls on the TFC forward didn’t help. Took a hard hit in the final minute of stoppage time, but participated in Sunday’s regen session and appeared to be doing fine. 8

M Brad Evans — Was a duel-winning machine with a team-high eight headers won and eight more recoveries. Really limited his turnovers and organized things well from the middle, linking passes and switching the point of attack. Very nearly had an assist in the 28th minute with a picture-perfect through ball to Estrada, but the forward hit a shot right at Kocic. Then nearly set up Estrada for a goal in the 67th minute. Had some good moments tracking back defensively. A strong outing. 7

M Mauro Rosales (off 79) — Wore the captain’s armband for the first time in a league game. Even though I don’t think it was his best showing, it was still positive. There are always moments when his first-class skill shows through, but I don’t think it was very consistent Saturday. A couple too many crosses found Kocic, but his set-piece service was good. There was some particularly good defending in the 19th minute that caught my eye, though a poor clearance about 10 minutes later set up a dangerous shot. Was set up by Montero for an open chance in the 54th minute, but couldn’t pull the trigger. At the end, Maund took him out in the box in the 74th minute, which definitely looked like a PK to me (Salazar waved off the appeals). Injured his right knee — yes, that knee — on the play and we’ll see how much he’s able to do Tuesday. 6.5

M Alvaro Fernandez (off 65) — Amazing to think he had just one assist in his first season and a half in Seattle. Had two Saturday and did all the heavy lifting to set up the other. The first was his “non-assist” in the 17th minute, which deserves perhaps the most credit after twisting TFC’s Ty Harden to the ground with some fancy moves before crossing to Estrada. First official assist came in the 51st minute with a very skillful back-heel to set up Burch’s through ball. Helped cap the scoring with a nice give-and-go with Estrada in the 63rd minute to answer Johnson’s score on the other end. Could’ve got on the scoresheet himself, but was flagged offside on a 60th-minute breakaway that looked very close. Wasn’t consistently involved in the second half like he was in the first, and he had played a full 90 on Wednesday, but I was a little surprised he came off when he did. 9

F Fredy Montero — A little bit of a mixed bag, but mostly positive I felt. His passing seemed off early, but there was also a lot to like. He set up an Estrada breakaway with a stunning through ball on the play Frings broke up and injured himself on. Also could’ve had an assist when he set up Rosales for an open chance in the second half. Showed to the ball and combined well at times. Put in work defensively and tracked a run all the way back to the penalty box in the 36th minute to help stop a TFC attack. His free kicks were off target and he just wasn’t as sharp as he could’ve been against a struggling defense. 6.5

F David Estrada (off 87) — The man of the day. The MLS Player of the Week. What stood out to me upon second viewing was the work rate and how pressuring defenders probably won the Sounders the ball back at least five times. But of course there were the goals. The first was a scrappy effort in the 17th minute. Then a calm finish on a breakaway in the 51st minute. Then a quick answer to TFC’s score off a great 1-2 with Flaco in the 63rd. Wasn’t flawless with at least two other chances in the first half that he didn’t convert, but we’ll forgive him for that. Limited his turnovers and amazingly tracked a run all the way back to the penalty box in the 77th minute. That was at the time where he started to play more midfielder with Rosales pushing up, but it was still a moment of great fitness. Got his sendoff with a couple minutes to go. 9.5

SUBSTITUTES

M Christian Sivebaek (on 65) — Struggled to get things going in his first few touches. Maybe it was nerves. Nearly had an assist in the 85th minute, but Levesque’s shot was saved. 5.5

F/M Roger Levesque (on 79) — Nearly got on the board with the aforementioned chance on goal, but Kocic came up with a big save. Not enough time to garner a rating. INC

M Servando Carrasco (on 87) — Came on late as Estrada got his sendoff. INC

COACH SIGI SCHMID

I expected more lineup moves, but he got it right. The two defensive changes each played well and the rest of the starters were up to playing again after just two days rest. Had the right gameplan in place to take advantage of the high TFC line. Great bounce back from the disappointment in Mexico. 8

REFEREE RICARDO SALAZAR

I think I’m going to enjoy Keller on the broadcast ripping the refs, and he noticed what I did. Sometimes Salazar would call it tight and other times he’d let it go. An early no-call when Flaco was dragged down stood out to me and Rosales appeared to win a PK late, but again nothing was called. I try to judge things on an MLS scale, so while I thought it was inconsistent, it wasn’t egregious. 4

* * *

What do you think? Did I get anything right?

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