Perhaps all the emotion in the build-up to this game got to Seattle Sounders FC. The way the team defended in the first half on Sunday against the Portland Timbers was indicative of a lack of focus, and more than once, players got involved in shoving matches and other altercations that showed their heads just weren’t in the game from the start. For personification of this effect, see Patrick Ianni’s performance.
After more poor team defending, the Sounders were lucky to be only down by two goals at halftime. It’s not as if Portland played any differently in this game than in any game tape Seattle would have watched; the Timbers got the ball in the box, and their size and strength took over. Against a team like that, the focus has to be on denying that service, not giving away free kick after free kick to have it lumped into the penalty area.
The response in the second half was good from the Sounders. It has to be said that in almost every game, Seattle has bounced back well in the second 45 minutes from a poor performance in the first 45, the game in Montreal aside. The emotions were still present, but it wasn’t getting in the way of an effective attack in the second half.
Aside from a couple of counterattacks, the Sounders defense didn’t have too much to do in the second half. Instead, it was Portland’s goal that was under constant and heavy pressure. However, Seattle left it far too late in this game, even with a Goal of the Week candidate from Eddie Johnson. The Sounders have to find a way to start strong and continue its momentum throughout the entire game.
Seattle Sounders FC Player Ratings at Portland Timbers
By Liviu Bird
Andrew Weber — 7
In his second start for the Sounders this season, Weber had a pretty good game. He saved several shots over his head, tipping them over the bar, and he was right there on the strange free-kick deflection in the 76th minute that hit the crossbar. Weber was reluctant to come off his line early on, which is detrimental against a team that relies so heavily on crosses like Portland. He got better at that as the game went on, though.
Marc Burch — 6
After some great service early in the season from Burch’s left foot, it has been less than spectacular recently. Against Portland, it was much of the same on the offensive side, although Burch didn’t neglect his defensive responsibilities. It would have been good to see him overlap a bit more, especially in the second half, when Andy Rose was drifting centrally from his position at left midfield.
Jhon Kennedy Hurtado — 4
Hurtado had a quiet second half, which was a blessing after an abysmal first 45 minutes. He and his central-defensive partner were clueless about how to defend in their own 18-yard box. Hurtado completely lost Kris Boyd on Portland’s opening goal. After he realized what happened and Steven Smith’s cross was already past him, all Hurtado could do was raise his arm and pray for an offside call that didn’t come.
Jeff Parke — 4
Before he came out of the game with an injury, Jeff Parke had a terrible time defending in the box, especially on set pieces. He lost David Horst on the play that saw the Timbers defender ring a header off the crossbar. He lost Kris Boyd on the header that Weber pushed over the bar. On the ensuing corner kick, he lost Horst again, who this time buried the header.
Zach Scott — 5
On Portland’s first goal, Scott needed to prevent the service into the box from Smith to Boyd. He tracked Smith all the way from midfield as he overlapped Kalif Alhassan, but he couldn’t get a foot on a cross that trickled across Seattle’s 18-yard box. That service needs to be denied against a team that relies on its crossing. Take it away, and Portland would have had no offense.
Alex Caskey — 6
All game long, Caskey played with a lot of energy, but he struggled to really make his mark on the game. He was pretty good on the ball, and he had at least one good cross, but he showed his youth and inexperience at times. As it has been all season, his biggest weakness against Portland was his tendency to take one or two touches too many before trying to get rid of the ball. Overall, it was an unremarkable performance from the rookie.
Mauro Rosales — 7
Rosales was the offensive spark that provided service for Seattle the entire second half. It would have been nice to see that the whole game from Rosales, but he played much better in the second half than most of the Sounders attackers played all game. He made runs forward, found the ball at his feet and made things happen. His service on set pieces was also good for much of the game.
Osvaldo Alonso — 8
Alonso had to hold a fairly deep position for much of the game, dictated by the Timbers’ propensity to counterattack quickly and play a direct style. He tackled well and broke up plays all game long, though. When he did creep forward, Alonso was also dangerous in the attack, cracking two of Seattle’s most dangerous shots of the game.
Brad Evans — 6.5
From the beginning, it was clear that Evans was uncomfortable with his new assignment on the right side of midfield. He was often out of position, drifting centrally, toward his usual position. However, he was still Seattle’s most effective midfield threat in the first half, while he was on the field. Evans clipped a great ball over the top to Eddie Johnson in the 10th minute, and he controlled Seattle’s game with the ball at his feet.
Eddie Johnson — 7.5
Johnson’s first touch and aerial play was good early, and he held the ball up well while receiving very little support from any of the other attacking players. He seemed to get frustrated toward the end of the first half with not finding the ball, so he took up a position under Fredy Montero. However, that’s not where Johnson is most effective for the Sounders, especially because Montero is not good as a target man. After he scored in the 58th minute — on a great cutback, curling the ball into the top corner with his left foot — Johnson had more confidence to post up higher again. All game, he was energetic, and he clearly came to play on Sunday.
Fredy Montero — 5
Montero’s emotions got the better of him for much of the game. He started mixing it up with Futty Danso in the third minute on a corner kick. In the second half, Montero looked like a frustrated man. He fouled Darlington Nagbe from behind in the 52nd minute and constantly voiced his displeasure with referee Ricardo Salazar. His red card was the culminating effect, coming after he shoved over one too many players one too many times.
Patrick Ianni (on in 42nd minute) — 5
Until the last half hour, when it looked like Seattle might be able to get something out of the game, Ianni’s emotions were running wild. The first thing he did when he got into the game was getting into a shoving match with Boyd, Alhassan and Jack Jewsbury in the penalty box on a free kick. He was involved again in the 53rd minute as Alhassan was carried off the field for a second time. Ianni’s lack of self-control was detrimental to his team, especially as a veteran leader.
Andy Rose (on at halftime) — 6
Rose was nonexistent in this game for most of the time he was on. Other than sprinting from penalty area to penalty area to make the final stop on Franck Songo’o on a counterattack in the 61st minute, the young player shied away from much of the play. It was a pattern in this game, an important derby match — many of the younger, less experienced players, such as Seattle’s Rose and Caskey and Portland’s Nagbe and Danny Mwanga, just weren’t in the game. Alhassan was a notable exception.
Cordell Cato (on in 75th minute) — N/A
Cato held the ball up well in his short time on the field, but he didn’t really get enough of a chance to earn a rating. It would be unfair to give him one with his limited minutes and action in those minutes.
Der Topspieler — Osvaldo Alonso
Alonso was the only Sounders player to have a good game from start to finish. He didn’t disappear for spells like Johnson did — although, to be fair to him, Johnson didn’t have much support for most of the game — and made a positive impact on both offense and defense. Alonso is evolving into a player that can do more than just put in a hard tackle. He’s making a concerted effort to dictate the play better with his passing. He’s starting to look — although not literally — a bit like Real Salt Lake’s Kyle Beckerman.