Photo credit: John Lok, The Seattle Times
The San Jose Earthquakes came to Seattle and sneaked out with a win Saturday night.
I thought the penalty kick, which resulted in the game’s only score, was generously given, but it wasn’t the only reason the Sounders lost. Personally, after watching the broadcast, I thought all the injuries caught up to the home side at CenturyLink Field and it was a really disjointed performance. Mainly, possession was lost way to easily in a disappointing first half.
But give some credit to the Earthquakes, especially that back line that is yet to allow a goal this season from the run of play. Goalkeeper Jon Busch made six good saves and also played a big part in keeping the three points as the visitors held on.
Let’s get to it. Here’s the rating system: 10 — world class, 5.5. — average, 1 — epically bad.
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GK Michael Gspurning — Probably had less to do than he did against Houston. Was strong in some 17th-minute danger, blocking a cross by Lenhart and smothering the second chance with Wondolowski looming. There wasn’t much he could do on the penalty kick, and he otherwise put himself in a good position for comfortable saves. Went forward on a last-gasp free kick and, at 6 foot 5, why not? Ultimately, another strong showing. 6.5
D Zach Scott — Very active with a team-high 139 touches. I thought the first half was a bit frantic with far too many turnovers. He was much better in the second half as he spurred comeback efforts with lots of crosses and headers won. Picked up a booking for a hard foul on Gordon after a giveaway. 5
D Patrick Ianni — Another extremely consistent showing. Was strong and physical with Lenhart a few times. Won headers well and blocked a dangerous Wondolowski shot early on. Was often there for help defense when needed. Played safe in moments when he needed to. Left Wondo open a bit for a 28th-minute look and was beat by Cronin for a 57th-minute shot, but was about the extent of the negative notes. 7
D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado (off 46) — I thought he was steady before he had to be taken off before the second half with the pelvic injury. The early sub hindered the comeback efforts a bit (allows you only two offensive subs later on) and we’ll have to see how he looks Tuesday. He won nine headers in the first half, which was more than anyone on the team won all game. Was physical on Lenhart a couple times and completed 85-percent of his passes to get off to a good start. 5.5
D Marc Burch — It was a topic of discussion before the game: Don’t let Steven Lenhart bait you into something. That’s exactly what happened with the penalty kick called in the 23rd minute. I didn’t think it was a PK, but he puts himself in the position to let the ref make that call, and it resulted in the deciding goal. He took responsibility for it in the end. Even beyond the PK, Saturday wasn’t the best of what we’ve seen from him. I thought his passing was off (though it got much better in the second half) and he lost possession 42 times through unsuccessful passes or by being tackled off the ball. 3
M Christian Sivebaek (off 62) — Got off to a very strong start in the first minute. Showcased his physical tools with pace on the right, headers won and some combo play. I thought he tailed off a bit as the game went on and had trouble keeping possession. Crossing was a little inconsistent, but overall a decent performance in his first start. It will be interesting to see if he gets the call again at D.C. United. 5
M Servando Carrasco (off 74) — As has been the issue before, Schmid mentioned that his positioning with Alonso was a problem. At times they played too flat, and that will happen due their shared defensive tendencies. Early on, he was quite good with the ball and active in the middle, but he had some bad turnovers after halftime, including one to Cronin that very nearly led to a second San Jose goal, before coming off. 4.5
M Osvaldo Alonso — Got booked early and still was on the verge of being out of control at times. I felt there were a couple instances when he was flirting with a second yellow card, especially in the 59th minute with a late tackle on Baca that looked pretty bad. A wonder if the MLS Disciplinary Committee might come calling. With Evans out, you would’ve liked to see him command a little more in the middle and facilitate the possession game. Very easily could’ve had an assist in the 11th minute with a cross to Montero. 4
M Alvaro Fernandez — His set-piece service in the absence of Rosales was actually quite good. His corner kicks were dangerous and his free kick to Montero in the 70th minute was nearly redirected in. I felt he had far too many turnovers though and should’ve been a leader when it came to keeping possession. Crosses from the run of play weren’t too dangerous and he lost the ball 31 times in tackles, which was by far the worst on the team. 4.5
F Fredy Montero — Pretty active and did well to find Sivebaek, Estrada, Fernandez on the flanks at times. Had a couple good looks in the second half that were nearly equalizers — a 70th-minute redirect free kick and an 84th-minute curling shot — but both were saved by Busch. The moment that stands out for me was an open 11th-minute header that he hit off target from a good Alonso cross. He should’ve done better on that one. He’ll continue to be held to a high standard as a preseason MVP candidate. 5
F/M David Estrada — Of the offensive-minded Sounders, his 109 touches were second only to Flaco’s 132. Was involved in some good moments in the attack, both as a forward and moving over to the right in the 62nd minute. Turnovers were a bit of an issue, but I thought he was active and effective. Another workmanlike shift. 5.5
D Jeff Parke (on 45) — Didn’t get much time to warm up as Hurtado pulled himself out just moments before the second-half kickoff. Seattle was on the front foot for most of the half, which might’ve helped him get settled. Had some good moments vs. Lenhart and recovered well to stop a Salinas chance. Won some headers and was mostly consistent aside from losing Wondolowski in the 75th minute (though, at the time he had two guys to mark). 5.5
F Sammy Ochoa (on 62) — A good addition to the game and caused some problems for the San Jose defense. Holdup play was good and he was involved in the attack. Played a 1-2 with Montero (the two heroes from last year’s comeback against the Earthquakes) in the 84th minute, but Busch’s finger tips stopped the equalizer. 6
M Alex Caskey (on 74) — A solid MLS debut and Fletcher noted on the broadcast that Schmid considered starting him. Had a shot on goal within a couple minutes of coming on that was blocked. Looked poised and comfortable out there. Might we see more minutes from him going forward? 5.5
COACH SIGI SCHMID
I thought Sivebaek was the correct choice on the right to get more offense on the field with Evans’ absence. The Alonso/Carrasco pairing in the center of midfield continues to present problems as both have the same positional tendencies, but depth at center midfielder plays into that decision. Injuries continue to make things difficult, but I thought the subs all had a good impact and a tie probably would’ve been a fair result. 5
REFEREE MARK KADLECIK
I’ve said a couple times that I didn’t think the PK was the right call. Not that it’s an inexcusable call, but it wasn’t keeping with the tone of the game at that point and wasn’t something that should’ve played a big part in deciding the game. A lot of the other bookings were warranted, but he struggled to keep control and was too inconsistent. 3.5
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What do you think? Which ones did I get right or wrong?