Photo credit: John Lok, The Seattle Times
Two home games. Two wins. Sounders FC’s best start since 2009.
Seattle got goals Friday night from David Estrada and Brad Evans to beat the Dynamo, 2-0, but the scoreline might’ve flattered the home team a bit. I thought Houston controlled lots of the game and the Sounders attack wasn’t quite in rhythm — though they were able to make up for it with two goals set up through corner kicks.
Coach Sigi Schmid was pleased with the way his team battled and I thought there were several good performances by the guys in green upon watching the tape.
Let’s get to it. Here’s the rating system: 10 — world class, 5.5 — average, 1 — dreadful.
* * *
GK Michael Gspurning — Made two saves to record his first shutout. Wasn’t called upon much in the first half, but did well to tip over a 17th-minute shot by Will Bruin. Did well in the second half to clear the ball in a couple tough spots and punch out crosses (even if he had to take out a teammate in the process). Very positive outing that will surely help him win over the fan base. 7.5
D Zach Scott — Brad Davis wasn’t heard from much in this one, and Scott gets a lot of credit for that. Always a brute in the air and strong in tackles, but had some issues with possession and crosses. Had a team-high 123 touches, but a high percentage of them weren’t positive (24 of 61 passes were incomplete, was tackled and lost possession 25 times). Ultimately took a league MVP candidate mostly out of the game, which takes precedence. 6.5
D Patrick Ianni — Won the important penalty-kick in the first half which turned a somewhat flukey 1-0 lead into a nice 2-0 advantage. Very clean game — strong in the air, safe on clearances, limited his turnovers. Schmid said he kept the starting job after a nice Week 1 performance, plus his familiarity with Houston as a former player, and it might be hard to take him out of the lineup after another strong showing. 7.5
D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado — A little bit inconsistent I felt. Had some good moments, but was shaky on a few of his game-high 11 clearances and gave Bruin too much space on the 17th-minute chance. Conceded a few free kicks, too. Won a large amount of headers, especially on dangerous crosses, which keeps the overall rating positive. 6
D Marc Burch — A performance that wowed me upon second viewing. Had a number of incredible long balls from the back to spur an attack up front, proving to me that a Week 1 assist was no fluke. Completed passes at a good rate (35 of 48) and was consistent defensively. Made very few mistakes and I encourage you to take another look at some of his long balls behind Hainault in the first half (Hainault came off at halftime if you didn’t notice). He’s also not afraid to stick in with a hard tackle when he needs to. Another one who’ll be hard to get out of the lineup, I feel. 8
M Roger Levesque (off 81) — The second main contributor to help take Brad Davis out of the game. Was diligent in defensive duties, but also pushed pretty high forward at times, switching spots with Estrada on occasion to be more of a target up front. Obviously the offensive impact compared to the regular starter, Mauro Rosales, was going to be different, but he really should’ve done better on a wide-open 53rd-minute chance. Had Houston pulled a late goal back to make things interesting, that miss might’ve been a bigger talking point. Second-half impact was a bit limited. 5
M Osvaldo Alonso — Highlight reels don’t often consist of tackles in midfield, but this guy makes them look spectacular at times. Had a couple wins, including one of Brian Ching, that were dominant, which is also a fitting word for his defensive presence on the night. Won a ton of headers, 50-50 balls and possession for the home team. Wasn’t as involved offensively, which might keep the rating from being higher. Wiping blood of his forehead was an image that typifies what he means to this team. 8.5
M Brad Evans (off 61) — I thought he might’ve been the best Sounder in the first half. Extremely active in midfield winning a ton of headers, breaking up attacks and fighting for possession. Was the recipient of some nice through-balls on late runs. Did very well to convert the 27th-minute penalty kick to double the lead and improve to 4 for 4 from the spot. That’s two goals in all competitions for him now. Said he felt a twinge in his hamstring in the second half, which led to an early exit. He was a full participant in nearly all of Sunday’s practice and looks to be OK. 7.5
M Alvaro Fernandez — Had a part in setting up both goals as the service provider on corner kicks. Drew a few fouls, which was a point of contention from the Houston perspective, as the visitors felt he was quick to go down. Very active in his full 90 and his 118 touches were second most on the team. Got behind Hainault quite a bit and did well in combination play up front. Should’ve had an assist after setting Levesque up in front of the goal, but the chance was missed. Got a late booking for causing some problems, but it was a positive performance. 6.5
F Fredy Montero (off 90) — Still without a goal or assist in league play, which is a little bit of an overstatement. He did very well to set up Flaco, who set up that Levesque chance — so that easily could’ve been an assist. Also set up a Flaco shot again in the 79th minute. With the captain’s armband on, he did track back well a few times to win possession and pressure defensively. Ultimately, he’s judged on a higher standard though and I don’t think he created as much danger as you’d like from an MVP candidate. Did a lot of things very well, completed a lot of passes, but a lot of responsibility was on his shoulders in the final third and the team’s offensive performance was a bit disjointed. Schmid said he isn’t concerned, but at some point he’s going to have to pick up where Estrada has started in regards to production. 5.5
F David Estrada — Got another goal, though for a time it wasn’t his. I believe the final ruling was right and it shouldn’t have been an own goal. While the shot might’ve gone wide, I don’t think there’s conclusive evidence that it would’ve missed, so Estrada rightfully got his prize. I did, however, have the word “giveaway” listed a lot in my notes next to his name, which was something I felt he limited in Week 1. Tracked back well a couple times, but wasn’t able to get in behind the defense as much as he did versus Toronto. Continues to cover the ground and put in the effort. I’m pretty sure I saw him sprinting in the final minute of stoppage time with the result in hand. 6
M Servando Carrasco (on 61) — A positive addition in place of Evans. Did well to control the middle and made some good runs. Had a couple giveaways in the 75th minute, but that was it. 6
M Leo Gonzalez (on 81) — Added a defensive presence and challenged Clark well for a crucial late header at the back post. INC
F Christian Sivebaek (on 90) — Made a late cameo and nearly set up a danger in the final minute of stoppage time. INC
COACH SIGI SCHMID
There were a few decisions to make in this one and most of them turned out well. Ianni and Burch were very positive, so it’s hard to argue their inclusion in the starting lineup. Scott was solid at a right back replacement, Levesque a little less so in my opinion, but they both bottled up Davis which was big. Nothing wrong with six points out of six possible. 7
REFEREE BALDOMERO TOLEDO
He’s a guy that draws a large negative reaction when people learn he’s reffing the games, but I felt he was pretty good Friday. Houston felt he might’ve blown the whistle easy, though I thought it was consistent enough. Had decent control of the game. The booking to Moffat was a little harsh, but the others to Davis and Flaco were fair. Made a brave PK decision, which I felt was justified, and otherwise kept out of the way. 7.5
* * *
What do you think? Who should be higher or lower?