Another lineup. Another win. But the first half against FC Dallas was actually one of the worst halves we’ve seen from the Sounders this season, in my opinion.
I felt the Eddie Johnson-David Estrada combination up front and the Brad Evans-Andy Rose pairing in the middle had some issues and weren’t the most effective early on. The introduction of Fredy Montero at halftime, however, was a game changer, even beyond the two goals scored.
Ultimately, the ratings will be a mixed bag with a few great performances and a few struggles. Let’s get to it (10 — world class, 5.5 — average, 1 — dreadful):
* * *
GK Bryan Meredith — Without a doubt, the busiest he’s been in his two and a half games. His save in 39th minute made SportsCenter’s Top 10 plays, so that speaks to the quality. Beyond being one of the best stops in team history, it was extremely important as it helped changed momentum to the Sounders’ favor. Came off his line well and was comfortable on other saves on Jair Benitez, Fabian Castillo and Andrew Jacobson. At ease on crosses and playing balls with his feet. It was the type of performance that makes you think he won’t be an MLS backup in a couple seasons. 8.5
D Zach Scott — Might’ve rather seen Brek Shea on the left flank than Castillo, as the talented youngster beat him multiple times (7′, 23′, 32′, 65′ and 75′). On the last one he caught Castillo on a tackle that was later deemed red-card worthy by the MLS Disciplinary Committee. Was limping through the last few minutes as he gave it his all, but got beat far too many times for anyone’s liking. 4
D Jeff Parke — Was supposed to be on the bench Wednesday, but had to fill in for Patrick Ianni (a late scratch in warmups with the back injury). Was a shaky first 10 minutes when he had a bad giveaway and was beaten along with Scott on a 1-2 by Benitez and Castillo. After that he was near flawless. Had a long list of great recovery tackles along with a number of headers and clearances. Earned one yellow card and might’ve earned a second in the final minutes with a tackle from behind on Shea, but his second half was one of the best I’ve seen from a Seattle defender this season. 8.5
D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado — Won his share of headers and clearances, but I felt that he also was beat on too many occasions. He was beat by Castillo in the 16th minute, lost Scott Sealy on the header in the 39th minute and also late by Shea. Much more consistent in the second half, but still had a few needless giveaways. 5.5
D Marc Burch — Playing with a brace on his left wrist, but you wouldn’t have known it. Had a couple giveaways, but made up for it with a positive influence in the attack. Served a nice long ball to Eddie Johnson in the 18th minute that started the play to Mauro Rosales’ near miss. Also found EJ with a cross in the second half and was involved in the buildup to the second goal. Solid shift. 7
M Mauro Rosales (off 45) — Biggest moment for him was the double miss in the 18th minute, the first off Andy Rose’s cross and the second off the rebound that dropped to his feet. Really should have put one of those away. Lost possession quite a bit, as well. Came off at halftime, which means he should be available against RSL. 5
M Andy Rose — Got a second-straight start and made it a good one. Was involved early and could’ve had an assist setting up Rosales in the 18th minute. Got one later on Montero’s second goal. Won nine headers (second most on the team), loose balls and limited his giveaways. Nice bounce-back from a wild one against Philadelphia. 6.5
M Brad Evans (off 77) — Wasn’t as involved as you would’ve liked, and that was probably due to a new look in midfield and a new partnership with Rose. Was pretty clean with the ball (25 successful passes, 5 unsuccessful), but the giveaways were noticeable. 5.5
M Alex Caskey — A little bit of an uneven performance. The good was very good. He had the assist on Montero’s second goal and other crisp moments in the attack (had to love that nutmeg of Zach Loyd in the second minute). Also lost possession 19 times in total, which was about 20-percent of his touches. He was caught on the ankle by James Marcelin’s cleat in the 12th minute, which I thought might’ve received some discipline. Was active late to close the game out. 6
F/M David Estrada (off 65) — You could tell it was his first start up front with Johnson, as they have trouble combining and learning each other’s runs and movements. Tracked back well on defense a couple times but the impact on offense was a bit inconsistent. Moved over to the right side at halftime before coming off. 5
F Eddie Johnson — Learned quickly the types of calls he won’t be getting in MLS thanks to the ref. Turned a long ball from Burch into a great scoring chance in the 18th minute, finding Rose on a late run, who set up Rosales. Won a team high 10 headers, but Estrada wasn’t able to run onto a lot of them. Teammates are still learning where he wants the ball on runs and you could tell a couple times (e.g. 8′ from Burch). Put in the effort until the end up top, which is what the team hopes for from its forwards. Holdup play got better as the game went on. I thought he did a good amount of dirty work and had an understated impact in the win. 7
F Fredy Montero (on 45) — Changed the game with his introduction, which is all you can ask him to do. Took a shot a couple minutes in to state his scoring intentions, which he’d prove later. First goal was a little opportunistic as the beneficiary of a nice bounce, but finished well past Hartman. Second goal was all effort, beating Pertuz to a deflected cross in front of goal. Heating up and the league surely isn’t happy to see that. 8.5
M Cordell Cato (on 65) — Not a bad debut as he earned an assist setting up Montero’s first goal. Ran the line well and helped on defense. Might’ve wanted a 76th-minute breakaway back, but definitely provided a spark. 6.5
M Servando Carrasco (on 77) — Energetic addition to close the game out. Had a good influence in the final minutes to kill time. 5.5
COACH SIGI SCHMID
Another new-look lineup struggled to find its way in the first half, but he changed the game with the substitutions. Has done a masterful job managing minutes and shuffling the lineup. Wasn’t the prettiest performance, but it’s hard to argue about another three points earned on short rest on the road. 8
REFEREE FOTIS BAZAKOS
Won’t be getting a Christmas card from Eddie Johnson, but was consistent at least. I thought most of the cards were fair, except for one to Montero late. It didn’t seem like the game was too big for him and I don’t think fans would be too upset seeing him again. 7
* * *
What do you think? Who’s too high or too low?