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May 1, 2012 at 1:25 AM

Sounders FC 2, Chicago Fire 1, player ratings

estrada chicago.jpgPhoto credit: John Gress, Getty Images

A win is a win, but it definitely wasn’t a pretty one for Seattle. The conditions were rough. The opponent was spirited. Mauro Rosales was forced to leave another game after being kicked.

The Sounders made up for it, though, with toughness. That was seen in a defensive back-line that worked tirelessly, a center midfield duo that gathered more than their share of 50-50 balls, and a couple forwards that put in full 90s even if not in their best offensive form.

Much of the postgame attention went to the scuffle that resulted in suspensions for Chicago coach Frank Klopas and defender Jalil Anibaba (and more discipline could be on the way), but road wins don’t come easy.

Let’s get to it (10 — world class, 5.5. — average, 1 — dreadful):

* * *

STARTERS

GK Michael Gspurning — As remarkable and unlikely and wind-aided as Marco Pappa’s Olympico goal was, the big goalkeeper has to take responsibility for it. And he did. Imagine if it had been a one-goal lead or a tie game. Here was his reaction from Monday: “This goal shouldn’t happen. I take it on my shoulders. … It’s never happened to me — I’ve played soccer for 23 years — and it should be also the last time.” He made a couple other saves, but wasn’t called upon to make spectacular ones. Had a few nervous moments in the second half on other shots affected by the wind. Good positioning allowed a last-minute save to be comfortable instead of heart-stopping. 5

D Adam Johansson — Certainly an active 90 minutes in his return after missing four games with a hamstring strain. Allowed for some space behind him at times in the first half, and his crosses didn’t always create as much danger as you’d like, but it was a very solid shift. He might’ve had a late breakaway were it not for a delayed foul call. Expect him to get Wednesday off, so not to push things too much too soon. 6

D Jeff Parke — Didn’t jump off the screen when you watched the tape, but a lot of his best moments came when you might have missed them, whether it was pushing Dominic Oduro wide on those first-half breakaways or establishing good position to keep the forwards from getting into dangerous spots later in the game. On offense, won a header on a first-half free kick that he hit wide and also had a clever dummy to set up a second-half cross. Last touch of the game was a tricky one that nearly set up Anibaba for an equalizer, but luckily the shot went right to Gspurning. 7

D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado — Might’ve been the most active defender on the day and had a team-high nine clearances. Also had an impact on the other end of the field, with the rebound chance that turned into an assist when Eddie Johnson knocked it in. Also missed just high on a 71st-minute header. Had a big moment toward the end of the first half when he saved Gspurning with a big tackle after an errant pass from the goalkeeper nearly led to some danger for the Fire. His best game of the season? 7.5

D Leo Gonzalez — Did the near impossible: He had as many tackles won (7) as Osvaldo Alonso. That is no small feat. On the other hand, was beat a couple times on the dribble and in behind, which hurts the rating a little bit. Does get a boost, though, for his great cross to Fredy Montero in the 27th minute that easily could’ve been an assist. Continues to show well for himself in a return to the starting lineup. 6.5

M Mauro Rosales (off 51) — Saturday was a struggle. He found it hard to move around after another rash tackle by Fire defender Gonzalo Segares, but even before then he was showing signs of rust after missing the previous four games with a sprained knee. He says he’ll be ready to go Wednesday against L.A. 5

M Brad Evans — Had lots of recoveries in midfield and won several 50-50 balls to earn possession. Completed 43 passes to nine unsuccessful, but I would’ve liked to see him demand more of the ball at times. At one point in the second half, his shoulder popped out of the socket and back in, and he played on. Stats can sometimes go however you like, but it’s worth noting that Seattle is 12-1-5 in his last 18 games and 30-14-20 overall when he plays. 6

M Osvaldo Alonso — In a day where it was tough for the Sounders to keep possession at times, he did well with 49 successful passes to 12 unsuccessful. Showed his great anticipation and ball-recovery skills in midfield, which had a great influence. Blocked crosses and shots all over, including with his face. Got the better of Sebastian Grazzini in the second half, I felt, which might’ve led to the sub. Had a great through-ball to Johnson to help set up the first goal and drew the foul that set up the second. Flirted with disaster, however, with some contact on Rafael Robayo in the penalty box in the fourth minute of stoppage time. Fortunately for him, it went unpunished. 7.5

M David Estrada — Once again a goal comes off his foot. I can’t argue much with the own goal decision, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t get any credit on the play. Elsewhere, he lost possession a few more times than you’d like, but showed his versatility and effort like always. You would’ve liked to see him put away that 88th-minute chance to put the nail in the coffin and Chicago nearly took advantage. 6

F Fredy Montero — Extremely active and took a beating at times, but he wasn’t maybe as consistent as you’d like. His crosses didn’t often find a target and he didn’t take his chances as well as we know he can. He did create danger a couple times with long-range shots, particularly the free kick that led to Johnson’s goal. Missed just high on a 27th-minute header, one we’ve seen him put away. He did earn the respect of his teammates for chasing things down and killing time all the way to the end. 5.5

F Eddie Johnson (off 90+) — First of all, his physical presence up front is obvious and he won a game high 13 headers. Got a full 90 minutes worth of activity and played a part in both goals. Had the run in behind the defense that led to the first and got the second himself on a rebound chance. He admitted he wasn’t as sharp as he’d like to be, and coach Sigi Schmid has said that will come with time, but we definitely got a glimpse of what he can provide. He might’ve had another goal if his 61st-minute header didn’t hit the post. Intentions on the time-wasting were understandable, but we probably won’t see that again. 7

SUBSTITUTES

M Marc Burch (on 51) — I didn’t anticipate seeing him this much as a midfielder this season, but he had an impact on both sides of the field. Solid defensively and had a few incisive crosses that created danger, including the one where Johnson eventually hit the post. Did lose possession a few times, particularly one in stoppage time that led to a Chicago break. Still a solid addition to the game. 6

F Sammy Ochoa (on 90+) — Came on very late for EJ. Got more action in the scuffle then in the game, it seemed. INC

COACH SIGI SCHMID

A lot of the lineup choices were made for him, but starting Estrada paid off and led to a goal. Replacing the injured Rosales with Burch was an interesting move, but also worked, I felt. Chicago was considerably less dangerous in the second half after some adjustments. Maybe nitpicking a little, but I might’ve found a way to get Zach Scott on the field for the last few minutes, perhaps for one of the Estrada/Montero/Johnson trio. Either way, three points on the road is always an achievement. 7.5

REFEREE MICHAEL KENNEDY

A hard one to evaluate. I thought he handled the game mostly well, but the extra minute of stoppage time was curious to say the least. Might it have played a part in the postgame scuffle? Possibly. I felt the cards were fair. If anything, Seattle got the benefit of more of the calls. I thought Grazzini was hard done a few times in the run of play and Chicago seemed to have significantly more gripes. 4

* * *

What do you think? Who’s rated too high or too low?

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