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Sounders FC

Daily coverage of Seattle Sounders FC, MLS and world soccer.

April 16, 2012 at 11:59 PM

Sounders FC 1, Colorado 0, player ratings

johnson colorado.jpgPhoto credit: Dean Rutz, The Seattle Times

Sounders FC’s lineup shuffling continued Saturday and with Eddie Johnson (above) and Alex Caskey added to the list, 19 players have now started MLS games for Seattle this season. That’s matched only by D.C. United.

The constant rearranging didn’t come at a cost against Colorado as the Sounders dominated the second half to earn a deserved win and end a brief two-game winless streak.

The hero of the day was Zach Scott, who got the goal in what is likely the last week in his short spell filling in for the injured Adam Johansson. While the team’s finishing and sharpness in the offensive third isn’t on point, I still thought there were a lot of other solid performances. Let’s get to it (10 — world class, 5.5. — average, 1 — dreadful):

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STARTERS

GK Michael Gspurning — His 0.40 goals-against average is second only to KC’s Jimmy Nielsen (0.17) after his third shutout. Only had to make one save in this one, but was more active than that in the first half, stopping Brian Mullan’s breakaway (10′), closing down an open Tony Cascio (14′) and punches on crosses (39′ and 40′). His save on Omar Cummings’ shot (33′) wasn’t very clean and led to Mullan scoring on the rebound, but he was offside. Didn’t have much to do in the second half, when his teammates had a 12-1 shot advantage and the Rapids were mostly keeping possession in their end. 7

D Zach Scott — Scored his first MLS goal, and it was a big one. His near-post header on Alex Caskey’s 63rd-minute corner kick was the game winner on a day where the offense wasn’t so sharp. Dominated in the air all over the field with a game-high 11 headers won, including a near-miss in the 13th minute on the end of a free kick. His long throw-ins are becoming a weapon, too. Had some trouble defensively to allow goal-scoring chances for Cascio (14′) and Omar Cummings (33′), so it wasn’t a flawless performance. Still the Man of the Match. 8.5

D Jeff Parke — Very solid defensively and had to be up to the task a couple times on the speedy Cummings. Also did well when Mullan had a dangerous moment in the 38th minute. Had his share of headers, interceptions and clearances. He and Ianni didn’t have so much to do late in the game. 7

D Patrick Ianni — Another solid showing, as has become familiar. The one negative that stood out was when he let Cummings get away with a loose touch in the box on his 33rd-minute shot. Otherwise was strong with headers and clearances. Nearly won another PK as he was shoved in the box going up for a header, but you won’t get two of those in the four-games time. 7

D Leo Gonzalez — He’s played in three MLS games (the last two as a starter) and the Sounders haven’t allowed a goal when he’s been on the field. Not to heap all the credit on him, but he’s played well since the nightmare in Santos. Was strong in the air and on the ground with Mullan. Seemed to know Mullan was offside on the 33rd-minute rebound, so I’ll give him the credit on that one. Got a bit more involved on offense in the final 15 minutes of the game when Marc Burch came on. 6.5

M David Estrada — Moved over to right mid after starting the first four games of the year at forward. He shouldn’t have been expected to be supremely comfortable over there, which surely accounts for some of the turnovers. Nearly had an assist in the 5th minute, setting up a Montero shot in front of goal. Possession game was a bit inconsistent and he should’ve done better on an open chance in the 61st minute. Always seems to cause trouble with his long-range shots. 5.5

M Osvaldo Alonso — Just another ho-hum 16 recoveries in midfield and six tackles won. When you watch him a lot, you tend to take that for granted. Possession was a bit loose at times, with some passes that didn’t find targets. Was tackled late by Mullan (87′) which drew a yellow card and got the emotions flowing again. Later got the captain’s armband from Montero, making him the fourth to get it in MLS play. 8

M Brad Evans — Lots of interceptions, recovering and duels won in midfield to win possession. Was solid again in the air and nearly directed in a long throw-in from Scott in the 25th minute. Was tackled off the ball to set up a key sequence in the 33rd minute when Colorado nearly scored on the Mullan rebound. Also had a couple loose passes in the second half resulting in turnovers in his own end, which were concerning when nursing a one-goal lead. Nearly redirected an Estrada shot in (76′) and helped kill off the game with some time-wasting. 7

M Alex Caskey (on 74′) — What an exciting first start, and he won the crowd over quickly with some tenacious effort in the third minute to win possession. Provided great service on set pieces, nearly assisting Scott on a 13th-minute free kick before making it count with the connection on the 63rd-minute corner kick for his first assist. Was very active, but sometimes that energy led to turnovers. He actually lost possession 19 times compared to 18 completed passes. At halftime, coach Sigi Schmid mentioned he tended to drift inside too much. Still a very positive performance. 6.5

F Eddie Johnson (off 66′) — Earned his first MLS start for the Sounders at long last. He’ll need a couple games to feel wholly comfortable, but I think we saw some good things with his holdup play and aerial prowess. The passing and timing will develop, but his physical presence up front is very noticeable. Long balls up front aren’t just going to be won all the time by center backs, like they were with a Montero-Estrada front line. Was caught offside a few times, wasn’t super goal-dangerous and the yellow card probably wasn’t necessary, but there’s no reason to think things won’t just get better. 5.5

F Fredy Montero (off 90+1′) — Extremely active. His involvement on the MLSsoccer.com chalkboard ran off the page and his notes on my second viewing were the longest. He and Schmid mentioned after the game that he’s dropping further to help play-make with Mauro Rosales and Alvaro Fernandez out. Even still he had eight shots, with a handful of dangerous efforts on free kicks. Tracked back very well defensively and set up Ochoa well a couple times. Only a superb effort from Matt Pickens kept him off the scoresheet, but it was certainly a positive showing, perhaps his best of the season, even as the drought continues. 6.5

SUBSTITUTES

F Sammy Ochoa (on 66′) — Was involved and active, but maybe could’ve done better on chances in the 81st and 82nd minutes. 5.5

M Marc Burch (on 74′) — Had an active 15 minutes or so on the left side. Combined with Leo well and was able to drop when he pushed forward. 6

F Roger Levesque (on 90+1′) — Late cameo to help kill of the game. INC

COACH SIGI SCHMID

I mentioned the roster shuffling, but despite digging deep into the team’s depth, they were able to get the three points. I felt Caskey had a positive showing as a last-minute replacement for Flaco and it was important to get EJ minutes. Defensive strategy stifled Colorado, especially in the second half. We’ll see if the return of the injured guys will reignite the offense. 8

REFEREE BALDOMERO TOLEDO

He’s a guy that induces moans and groans from the fans when it’s learned he’s in charge, but I think he managed what was an emotional game very well. Had a quick whistle, which was necessary, but I felt consistent. The cards, I felt, were fair. Neither team got an advantage and things stayed under contract for the most part. 7.5

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What do you think?

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