Player Ratings: The Countdown, FIRE v. Galaxy, MLS #12

"Do you feel exploited, Jhon Kennedy? Well, DO YOU?" - Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Soumaré's magisterial performance the big surprise in a tight, cohesive draw against west-coast powerhouse

In Jeff Engelhardt’s brief absence, we here at Hot Time are trying to keep the Countdown alive - last game’s player ratings, rendered as a simple ranking, with some notes? Yes, please.

Jeff, buddy, we miss ya. Come back soon. Until then, here’s the Countdown:

I. Bakary Soumaré - This is the kind of performance Bakary’s preseason had us dreaming of. When he’s on, Soumaré has a lovely defensive creativity - instead of pounding his mark on the back of his calves, Soumaré may instead step around, take the pass in his stride, and stroll into midfield. So long as he stays focused like he was on Sunday, that edge of whimsy to his play is a delight, not a detriment.

II. Sean Johnson - Had a few crucial interventions - notably a stab in the 23rd that defused a canny back-post run from Baggio Husidic. It’s hard to see how he could’ve done anything on the goal, either - see that Rogers’ cross was going behind Keane? Use that information to instinctively cover the back post? If he could do that, we couldn’t afford him.

III. Lovel Palmer - Stalwart all day. Tackled cleanly and played simply. Got caught on the goal by a great cross and Donovan’s last burst of pace on a sweltering afternoon. He and Segares were fantastic pinching in.

IV. Harrison Shipp - The education of Harrison Shipp continues apace; today’s episode was entitled “Beware What You Wish For.” Turned loose in the middle, free to create space and chances, Shipp was dogged throughout by the Galaxy pivot of Juninho and Baggio Husidic. He still managed to create chances with immaculate through balls, but Harry will have to learn how to consistently affect the flow of play if he’s to earn the kind of defensive support a purely offensive midfielder requires.

V. Jeff Larentowicz - Big Red looks about 20 times more comfortable in a double pivot, eh? Larentowicz really showed all the best parts of his game in this disciplined performance - the commitment in the air, the strength around the ball, the sense of not-for-me-but-for-thee.

VI. Gonzalo Segares - Segares has been the forgotten man in this early season, the bone spurs in his ankle pressing new acquisition Greg Cochrane into action. Segares’ shrewd positioning and astute interventions in the middle reminded everyone what we were missing with the less-experienced Cochrane; here’s to hoping Gonzo’s ankle gets better, and Cochrane takes notes.

VII. Jhon Kennedy Hurtado - Hurtado has played game-in, game-out with a sort of dutiful compliance: Whoever comes in around him, he plays the best cover-back game he can. This week, Yallop got the band back together, going with the starting quartet that worked together through much of the early season. The results were evident - one shot all day against that vaunted LA attack.

VIII. Quincy Amarikwa - Quincy does Quincy things - works his ass off, keeps the ball miraculously, and throws himself down at the slightest imputation of contact in the penalty area. TWO OUTTA THREE AIN’T BAD.

IX. Chris Ritter - Quite a solid debut in the double pivot for the Northwestern man. Ritter’s positioning and passing were on point throughout, and it is only the sadly naïve giveaway that sprung Robbie Rogers and set up the tying goal that sends him lower in this rating.

X. Grant Ward - Ward seemed to find his tactical instructions - to be aware of his spacing from the backline, to stay home on offense so that the collective could thrive - to be a straitjacket. He submitted to the binding, but it seemed to sap his creativity with the ball. Certainly looked the part athletically and technically. We shall see.

XI. Dilly Duka - Consulting my calendar, Duka’s been on-form for about six of the last 30 months. June of 2014 isn’t one of them. At least he only costs … oh.

Off da bench

Benji Joya - Benji is in that part of his career where every bit of playing time is welcome; I mean, he’s 20. Was this the best performance EVAR? No. But did he understand his role (defending the left flank, keeping the ball when possible), and carry it out faithfully? Heck yeah. Nice work digging in from the kid.

Matt Watson - A Matt Watson’s faithful, one hundred percent. Watson’s cameo in relief of an exhausted Palmer was unexceptional, but necessary.

Juan Luis Anangonó - I present the following chant for Section 8 to use - no royalties required: Oh, oh, Anangonó. Oh, oh, uh-oh. {massive fart sound} (Here endeth the chant.) Either Ecuador is a lot harder up for striker candidates than I’d been led to believe, or JLA has a badass agent. Either way, first touch. Firrrrrrst touch. I'm getting heartburn thinking about it. Urp.

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