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May 17, 2012 at 12:59 AM

Real Salt Lake 1, Sounders 0, player ratings

cato rsl.jpgPhoto credit: Dean Rutz, The Seattle Times

And so the winning/unbeaten/shutout streak ended. The Sounders controlled a lot of the game Saturday against Western Conference rival Real Salt Lake, but that didn’t translate to goals. The experienced visitors played cautiously, got a goal and held it up.

It was the fifth game in 15 days for Seattle, and the tired legs were evident — particularly up front against a stalwart RSL back line. But amid the disappointment, I still felt there were a fair number of strong performances upon second viewing.

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

* * *

STARTERS

GK Bryan Meredith — Earned the third-longest shutout streak to start an MLS career at 275 minutes. That came to an end on the Fabian Espindola goal, but there wasn’t much he could do. Wasn’t bothered much throughout the game, and I didn’t have a lot of notes for him, but his 77th-minute minute on Alvaro Saborio was a big one as it kept his team within one goal. Comfortable on shots by Will Johnson and Luis Gil, too. 6

D Adam Johansson (off 82) — Extremely active up and down the right side. Unfortunately for him, his biggest moment was missing a chance to clear a Gil pass on the way to Espindola for the RSL goal. Probably should’ve done better there to get some kind of touch on the ball. Otherwise got forward well and had good influence in the attack with his passes and crosses, especially early on. Was one of the better players in the first half, but second half was more of a struggle, typified by the goal. 4.5

D Jeff Parke — A lot of the defensive responsibility came to him and he was up to it. Was lobbying for an offside call on Saborio (who wasn’t offside) in the buildup to the goal, which makes some wonder if he might’ve been able to do more if his attention wasn’t on the assistant referee. Played a very solid game otherwise, and being fouled a bunch of times by RSL players was a sign of that. Distribution was very good in the second-half push for an equalizer. I was somewhat surprised he didn’t get any MLS Team of the Week attention, especially considering a very strong showing Wednesday in Dallas. 7.5

D Jhon Kennedy Hurtado — Most of the action went to Parke, so his list of notes was much smaller. When Seattle was controlling the action in the first half, he made sure the RSL forwards didn’t win the ball on him and that kept the ball on the other end of the field. Was beat by Saborio for a 77th-minute shot, when he let a dangerous ball bounce past him. Meredith made the save, so he wasn’t punished for it (except here). 6

D Marc Burch — Had a couple passes go awry early, but I felt he was pretty consistent defensively throughout. About 25 minutes in, his offensive influence picked up, particularly setting up EJ up front. Stayed active through the end as he pumped a lot of balls into the RSL box, including a late free kick that forced a Nick Rimando save. 6.5

M Mauro Rosales (off 75) — Amazingly started all five games in 15 days and in just the third minute he got something familiar: a nice tackle from behind, this time from Chris Wingert. Was somewhat inconsistent with his crosses, I felt, especially in the first 25 minutes or so. Just two out of his 10 crosses on the night were deemed successful by Opta. Partnership with Johansson, not to mention his fitness, will continue to get better. 5

M Osvaldo AlonsoGot some heat on the league website for his passing in the final third, but also won seven tackles and had 10 recoveries in midfield. Lost possession in bad places a couple times and lost Gil on an open shot in the 27th minute. Fresh legs were obvious and he had a couple good passes to EJ (16′, 40′). Also drew a yellow card on a tackle by Saborio. A workmanlike showing as he played on with an adductor issue. 6

M Andy Rose — Earned his third-straight start and made it a good one. His 12 headers were a team high and showed the kind of influence he can have in the middle of the field as he wins duels and 50-50 balls. Had a good look with an 11th-minute shot, but didn’t connect cleanly and it curled wide. Limited turnovers and hardly looked like a rookie out there. A very professional performance against a great team and midfield. 6.5

M David Estrada (off 58) — Lost possession 13 times and a few in bad spots. That’s way too much. Also had the giveaway that eventually led to RSL’s goal, which Schmid pointed out after the game. Had some very good moments in the first half with some good combo play on the left. After halftime, it was a struggle before he came off. 4

F Fredy Montero — Didn’t have as many notes as he usually does, meaning the involvement wasn’t as great. Checked back to the ball and facilitated some things on offense, but didn’t have many looks on goal. Wasn’t going to win many long balls against the Olave/Borchers combo, but had some nice crosses off free kicks and the run of play. Ultimately, you would’ve wanted to see more, especially having not played a full game Wednesday in Dallas, so fatigue would’ve been less of an issue. 4.5

F Eddie Johnson — The more goal-dangerous of the forwards in my opinion, especially in the first half. Had a great run that looked Goal of the Week-worthy before skying the shot in the 16th minute. Won a header well a few minutes earlier, but hit it wide. Has those moments where you’d like to see him make the run more decisively (and with less stepovers, as Schmid mentioned at halftime). He’s still learning what to expect from MLS refs, too. Lost possession more and was less active in the second half. 5

SUBSTITUTES

M Alvaro Fernandez (on 58) — Got a warm welcome in his return after missing five games with the quad injury. Showed a lot of great stuff, especially with a 73rd-minute run through several defenders, before being tackled off the ball just before a cross. Took a corner kick well (80′) and had a header go wide (86′). Very positive stuff. 6

M Cordell Cato (on 75) — Lots of influence in his limited minutes. Drew a couple corner kicks and his 87th-minute cross drew a big punch from Rimando. 6

M Alex Caskey (on 82) — Logged a good amount of distance in his short time, which wasn’t enough to garner a rating. INC

COACH SIGI SCHMID

The lack of clear scoring chances considering all that possession was a concern, so it’s no surprise the team has focused on final-third play this week in training. I’m not sure if Fernandez was healthy enough for more minutes, but he’s one guy that you might’ve wanted to see more of. Subs had a good impact in the comeback efforts. The squad he put out there probably deserved a point, but you certainly have to consider the fatigue of a murderous 15-day stretch with this result. Hard to argue much about how he managed things the past few weeks. 5

REFEREE MARK GEIGER

Wasn’t a popular guy at CenturyLink Field, I can assure you that. Didn’t endear himself to the home side and fans by swallowing his whistle during a handful of apparent fouls on Sounders, but I don’t think any of them were major/game-changing calls. The yellow cards were fair and whatever inconsistency didn’t affect the result, which can’t always be said in this league. 5.5

* * *

How do you recall the performance? Who’s ranked too high or too low?

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