Sounders FC Player Ratings vs. Real Salt Lake, First Leg


We weren’t the only ones impressed with Michael Gspurning’s performance on Friday. (Photo: Brandon Bleek/Prost Amerika)

By Liviu Bird

SEATTLE — A 0-0 tie with some sparks flying both ways sets up an intriguing matchup in the second leg between Seattle Sounders FC and Real Salt Lake. Here is how each Sounders player fared in the opening 90 minutes:

Michael Gspurning — 8

The goalkeepers starred in this game. Gspurning started his night with a solid collection on a 16th-minute cross and a quick throw to Fredy Montero. Gspurning’s distribution was good all night. His stops on Ned Grabavoy’s breakaway and Will Johnson’s shot from inside the penalty area kept RSL off the scoreboard in a dangerous first half.

Marc Burch — 7

Burch was almost as effective a shot blocker as Gspurning, taking a couple for the team on close-range efforts. He also overlapped more confidently and often than Adam Johansson, even though the majority of the chances went down the opposite side.

Jhon Kennedy Hurtado — 6

Hurtado went largely unnoticed most of the night, but the positive side of that is it means he didn’t make any mistakes. At the same time, other than a run into the box in an offside position that distracted the Salt Lake defenders enough to allow Brad Evans a chance, he didn’t do anything overtly positive, either.

Jeff Parke — 5

For Seattle’s usual defensive stalwart, this was a subpar game. He stepped up to block an early shot in fifth minute, but his wayward cross-field pass in the 30th minute, under no pressure, gave away a deep throw that could have led to a goal if Ned Grabavoy could have finished a simple header. He lost his mark on the free kick that followed his yellow card as well.

Adam Johansson — 6

Because of Mauro Rosales’ frequent involvement in the attack, Johansson got some residual service opportunities on the overlap. He took more advantage in the second half than the first, but he didn’t really add an extra element to the Sounders FC attack.

Brad Evans — 7

The football lines on the field may have confused Evans at the start of the game; his tackles on Javier Morales and Tony Beltran in the 11th minute belonged more in the padded game than the beautiful game. He did have good vision on multiple occasions, including when he ran in behind the defense in the 25th minute to get an opportunity, as the defense was preoccupied with an offside Hurtado.

Osvaldo Alonso — 7

This game again showcased the differences between Alonso and Kyle Beckerman. He filled in mostly defensively this game, although he had a long shot in the third minute to kick off Seattle’s offensive onslaught of the game.

Christian Tiffert — 6

A couple of uncharacteristic missed passes from the German were the only notable contributions he made to the game. He was in on a couple of one-two combinations with Mauro Rosales, though, which brought his passing percentage closer to even.

Mauro Rosales — 8

If it weren’t for Rimando, Rosales may have had three or four assists on Friday night. After an opening 20 minutes with poor service, he really started picking targets out of the crowd and putting players in optimal goal scoring positions. He was the most dangerous attacking player for Seattle.

Fredy Montero — 5

Montero was invisible for great stretches of this game. None of the Sounders’ best opportunities were off his foot, and his decision-making on the ball was suspect. Montero is still yet to score an MLS playoff goal, which is a blemish on his otherwise good record in the league.

Sammy Ochoa — 5

Although his record in all other competitions may say otherwise, Ochoa’s MLS form has him as a way-below-average striker. He had opportunities and displayed energy and desire to find the ball at his feet all night, but he also put a clear chance from six yards out over the goal in the 50th minute. Seattle needed him to step up in Eddie Johnson’s absence, but it just didn’t happen.

David Estrada (on in 57th minute) — 6

Estrada was a little aimless and sporadic in the attack, not creating any more chances than Ochoa until the 81st minute, when he nutmegged Jamison Olave and nearly scored on a deflection. He had his own miss from six yards out, in the 85th minute. Overall, his actions evened out to average.

Mario Martinez (on in 82nd minute) — N/A

Martinez wasn’t on the field long enough to see much of the ball or receive a mark.

Steve Zakuani (on in 90+4th minute) — N/A

Zakuani also wasn’t on the field long enough to receive a mark.

Der Topspieler — Michael Gspurning

In a 0-0 game with chances both ways, the goalkeepers were the best players for their respective teams. While he won’t receive as high a mark as Rimando, Gspurning was just as instrumental in preserving the tie. When he was called upon, he delivered solid, drama-free saves. If he hadn’t been hurt for that stretch in the middle of the season, Gspurning would be a solid candidate for 2012 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year.

Dishonorable Mention — (Some) Sounders FC Supporters

Booing an opposition player for being seriously injured is, at the very least, classless. The noise was coming only from the group behind Nick Rimando’s goal, and it continued every time he touched the ball.

Seattle may get credit around the league for its large crowds and passionate support, but the behavior from some quarters after Rimando’s injury is a bigger blemish than the swollen eyelid he received from Tiffert’s inadvertent elbow.

Match Report

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  1. We were not booing a serious injury. Classless to boo a KNOWN injury yes, however this is never the case in Seattle en mass when the injury is obvious. This is a consequence of players faking injury to waste time unfortunately. Rimando is a known time waster and it is not below him to feign injury with the exact same body language he displayed on this occasion. I will boo every player who is known for faking injury whenever they go down. I do so knowing that a very small percentage of the time the player is actually hurt. This is a simple consequence of them faking injury so often to be known for.

      • I hear women will be entering the workplace soon. That’s just super! I don’t like the idea…oh wait, I am a woman (No I’m not).

        • I agree. It seemed that the strategy last night was to lie down and hold the ball. Without the ability to re-watch what had happened, I think much of the fans’ ire came from his being on the ground for so long and then suddenly being fine to play.

          • after watching the replay i am happy that I boo’d!!! He takes a second to look and see if he gets the call then goes back to the ground. I see the same look from my 4 year old daughter when she is looking to see if anyone saw her trip before deciding if it hurts or not. I think your complaint should be the classless goalkeeper that otherwise earned everyone’s respect.

          • Silly me. He was obviously fishing for the call. And while he was on the ground, he cut his own eye and broke his own nose, just for effect.

            Give me a break.

          • Fair but Honest on

            Liviu Bird, right, because all of the supporters up in the stands could see he was bleeding and had a broken nose.

            Get realistic about the situation.

  2. I knew something was serious when Rimando immediately waved for help when he first went down, and when a couple of other players looked like they were concerned. Most people time-wasting would cover their faces, roll around, etc.

  3. As a general suggestion, it would be nice if Prost Amerika noted the author of a particular article on the main page, prior to clicking through.

  4. Very good game from Gspurning but I thought his distribution was the weakest part of his night. Too often he pushed tempo by hoofing a punt forward with 8 midfielders and defenders still in the defensive 3rd. We became too stretched and 2 forwards vs. 5 defenders is too much to ask.

  5. Great take on the game. Real Salt Lake had an incredible game, specifically Rimando, and a bit better than our play on the night as seen in the ratings . That said I thought the booing, and repetitive booing was in the nature of the sport and intensity of the game. Rimando showed class knowing that most everyone doesn’t want players seriously injured, but a proper rousing is part of the game. In all honesty it’s a sign of respect to be “hated” so much. You may call it classless, but others know there’s no serious ill will intended.

  6. The booing was not just at the South end, there was plenty around the stadium as people followed the South End’s lead. I was in the North End and it was clear to me that Rimando was seriously injured. He may dance around the delay of game rule on kicks but he is not one to fake injuries.

    I was ashamed to be among a group who would boo a great player who was down injured and chanted “Let him die” when the stretcher was brought out. Who are these people? Good sportsmanship applies to fans as well as players and it was missing last night.

  7. The report is he had to have stitches and his broken nose had to be reset. The fact that he kept playing and put out nothing less than a continued stellar performance is just awesome. Makes me want to jump around and do cartwheels and yell to the world just how amazing my team and its goalkeeper are. Oh, wait…yeah, I did do that. That said, any time any other team’s player goes down on the pitch at Rio Tinto Stadium, I boo loudly, scream the word garbage, and “hate” that player for years to come. Much of the fans packed in do as well. Or boo, at the very least. Unless and until the more serious nature of the injury becomes obvious, the booing continues, and continues every time that player touches the ball.

    With Rimando staying in and still looking larger than life in front of that net, I get why his injury wasn’t well received and probably not even known to many of the fans. And its playoff time against the team that booted their team out of the playoffs last year to boot. I’d boo. I’d say I forgive the Seattle fans for their treatment of my last night’s hero, but in my opinion there is nothing to forgive.

    I really like Seattle’s play and love to watch their other games, but up against RSL, Seattle is my worst enemy. As is every other team when they play Real. We boo the other team and boo and boo some more at every perceived wrong. That’s just how it is. When LA came to town, the moment the game started Beckham had 20,000 people booing him every time he touched the ball before he ever did anything “wrong”. Now, I say all this giving those fans the benefit of the doubt and thinking they wouldn’t have continued the behavior had they known how serious the injury really was. I’ll go with just lack of knowledge versus lack of class.

    That game just rocked!! Hats off to Seattle for a very good game.
    And BTW, always love the articles on here.

    • Aw shucks Jenn. Maybe I’ll run into you in Salt Lake next week for Part 2 of this already memorable series.

    • Exactly Jenn.
      … and very well spoken.
      I generally refrain from booing until I can tell if the opposing player is actually hurt, especially when I didn’t have a clear view of what happened. I don’t boo for injuries percieved as “time wasting” that occur during regulation time either (unless it is so frequent there is no continuity of play) because the referees do a very good job at assessing & adding appropriate injury time.
      In the case of Rimondo, what happend wasn’t clear at all…at least not from where I was standing…so I did not boo until he got up after being down so long and simply continued to play (amazingly) as if nothing had happened at all. At that point I had to boo.
      Booing when an opposing player goes down is pretty standard in all stadiums across the board. It does not mean that those fans are inhumane or even insensitive for doing so. Honestly it is probably a reaction to a long history of player tendancies to feign injury in order to get a call. I am certain 90% of those fans will “take it back” if an actual injury is confirmed, just as I did Saturday after watching replays.

  8. I also have to object to the wide brush of the Editor. I was in the South End, and my party agreed that Rimando was lights out and the star of the match. That did not stop us from booing before and after his injury (I didn’t boo during treatment) but seriously, it became obvious from fairly early on that RSL was playing for the draw, and 0-0 if possible. For while Rimando did play his ass off, he was also the focal point of the time wasting.

    You can of course argue that that is his job, and if I was an RSL fan, I would of course agree with you. I even would agree with that as an opposing fan. However, I argue that it is also my job as the home fan to boo the hell out of him for doing it (wasting time). I think it patently unfair to accuse us of booing a potentially faked injury, when the point of our ire was the time wasting of not only Rimando, but the entire RSL side. Yes it was their right and strategy. It was our right and strategy as fans to make our displeasure known.

  9. Fair but Honest on

    Author, how about you take a second to realize that all us fans are in the stands, we’re not on the pitch, we don’t get a nice close up the injured player. From our perspective it looked like he took a small knock and was wasting more time playing injured. Do you really think from our position we could tell his nose was broken? With all the people around him do you think we could see he was bleeding? Get off your high horse and think realistically. Yet more poor commentary and sub-par reporting.

    Article Author – 4

  10. In all fairness, anyone who thinks booing when a player is injured on the pitch is classless, is completely entitled to that opinion. Everyone has their own standards and one who thinks more sportmanship should exhibited by the fans, not just the players, has a completely fair but honest standard. Anyone who thinks fans will do what they do, has a completely fair but honest standard as well. I understand why fans would boo when Rimando was down, I understand why someone would see that as disrespectul. Agree, disagree, it’s all part of the game. Boo, cheer, get mad, have fun, it’s all part of the game. Breathe the intesity, live the excitement!
    #Enjoy the banter, love the game…why take pot shots at an opinion?

  11. Prostamerika’s critical analysis of fan (and commentator) behavior is part of the reason I visit this site. You can’t learn anything from yeasayers. I do, however, respectfully disagree on this one issue of fans disrespecting Rimando. RSL was wasting time from minute ONE. Rimando played out the rest of the game after injury without any clear detraction from his ability (really a testament to his drive and skill). Is it wrong to be happy that an innocent player broke their nose? Of course it is. That was not the case on Friday. After crying wolf all game long, you may get boos for an actual injury. I think that the dishonorable mention to (some) fans took the events out of context a bit.

    • Disagreement is always welcome. The sport will only flourish if there are opinions, players and matches about which we feel so strongly, that we will argue to the ends of the earth.

      We cannot assure you that every opinion expressed on this site will conform to a streaming gush of positive and sycophantic PR about any particular club, but it will always be the honest opinion of the writer.