Player ratings / Union

Player ratings: Philadelphia Union 4-1 Real Salt Lake

Photo by Earl Gardner

That’s how you dismantle a struggling road team.

For maybe the first time this season, all the offensive cylinders were firing for the Philadelphia Union. An electric first half contrasted the dreary weather on Saturday night and saw the Sons of Ben DOOPing four times in a 4-1 win over Real Salt Lake. Also, Borek Dockal showed up, which was nice.

Player Ratings 

Andre Blake — 6

Blake was really only busy in the opening 20 minutes, where he made a handful of good saves. A dive in the 10th, a big arm in the 14th, and another diving block in the 17th. All were saves Blake is expected to make, but who knows where the match goes if one of them goes in. RSL’s lone goal was a tough one for the keeper following a dummy and a low, driven stinger.

Keegan Rosenberry — 7

What a dynamite finish it was for Rosenberry in the late goings, lacing the ball through the legs of a defender and into the bottom corner past a diving Nick Rimando. He even clanked one off the post in the first half and is proving to be a goal-scoring threat from distance. He also fed Bedoya on the right flank before the second goal of the night and generally had a very strong showing moving forward.

Defensively, he was beat to the end-line and shoved to ground on RSL’s goal, but he’s just got that spark back. A night like Saturday will do a lot of good for his confidence. Keep playing him.

Mark McKenzie — 6

McKenzie just did his job quietly, as he did in Montreal. He did play a couple really nice balls out of the back in the first half and that can be really useful if the wingers are hot. No glaring mistakes, which is all you can hope for right now.

Auston Trusty — 7

The big left boot was out again and it’s clear Trusty will be playing those long balls out of the back regularly as well. I’m all for it. He’s settling into his role and doing an excellent job man-marking. RSL was lackluster and he’ll inevitably be put into the spotlight more going forward, but he looks up to the task right now.

Raymon Gaddis — 7

Gaddis had some nice overlaps going with Fafa on the left and it’s a good sign if he’s pushing forward frequently with Rosenberry. He sent a wide-open long take way over the bar in the first half, but he doesn’t need to score goals. His tracking and fitness were very good as usual and he was just simply reliable in this one.

Alejandro Bedoya — 7

The captain probably should have scored from distance on a wide-open net in the 11th minute, but his perfectly weighted dish to Dockal was the headliner. Great movement on the right and releasing it at just the right time led to a lovely goal. Bedoya was back on defense when needed and kept the ball flowing in the middle of the park. A sturdy, well-rounded match that you’d expect from him.

Haris Medunjanin — 6

I swear Medunjanin intentionally passes the ball directly to an opposing player once a match. This one in the 55th minute didn’t even have any weight on it — “here ya go, guys.” So, that’s frustrating. Stop doing that.

On the whole, though, he was very active on both ends and covered a lot of ground. He’s forming a real partnership with Bedoya in the midfield and good things are happening.

Borek Dockal — 8

How was your painstakingly long nap, Borek?

Finally, the match Union supporters have been waiting for from their N0. 10. A world-class dink over Rimando was just the beginning of a night filled with smooth touches, pinpoint passes and sensational vision. Right before halftime he slid the ball through a channel in the box to find Rosenberry, who nearly scored. Then on Ilsinho’s goal, he could have had a go himself, but selflessly dumped it off instead. Just about everything worked and the RSL commentary team called him a bargain at 1.7 million. Dockal was superb.

Now, do it again next week.

Marcus Epps — 7

Right place, right time. That was the theme for Epps all night, who firmly punched in the first goal. He was shifty on the right, making some guys miss and maneuvering into the proper gaps. He nearly scored in the 24th when he was in on Rimando, and again fired one right at him but was ultimately called offside after the ball trickled in. A very encouraging and confidence-building display from Epps.

Fafa Picault — 9

A 9/10 for the No. 9. Maybe a bit high, but you know what, he was everything David Accam hasn’t been this season. He flew out of the gates from the start and put together an absolutely pulsating first half. He tested Rimando in the 10th minute with a hard curler and then single-handily created the opening goal with pace from the left. Blows right by three guys and then has the wherewithal to send it back across frame for Epps. If Accam can do that, he hasn’t shown it.

Take-on after take-on and step-over after step-over, Fafa was a thrill to watch and RSL had no clue what to do. He should definitely start again. Man of the match.

C.J. Sapong — 6

Sapong was unusually quiet in the booming first half but, as usual, a lot of his work was done off the ball. He invisibly dragged defenders in and made space for the wingers running on. It would be easy to say he didn’t do anything on Saturday, but not as much happens if he’s not out there. Jim Curtin was smart to pull him off in the 64th, as he’s probably still not 100 percent.

Substitutes

Ilsinho (64′) — 7

The Brazilian came on for Sapong and sent Fafa to the middle as he moved to right wing. He simply put himself in the right spot on the dish from Dockal and punched in the dagger. He was active out there and strung a few plays together. Ilsinho is often better in small doses.

David Accam (79′) — 4

Seriously, David, were you taking notes? No one, especially the lads paying you, want to see you coming off the bench regularly. Get better or Fafa will take your place.

Anthony Fontana (86′) — 5

Didn’t see much time and gave Dockal a few extra minutes of much-deserved rest. Always the best kind of substitute.

20 Comments

  1. I would grade the fullbacks a point lower — RSL spent a good 15-20 minutes of the first half torturing us on the flanks — despite Keegan’s lovely goal and almost-goal.

    I would also bump the centerbacks up a point higher. Picault is not a bad choice for Man of the Match, because he was fantastic — though my choice was Dockal — but the third consideration is Trusty, who was just an absolute wall all game long.

  2. If McKenzie is a 6 why is Jack Elliot not playing? I’m not arguing the ratings, because I didn’t see the match. I’m genuinely curious why a guy who was good enough to win the starting job last season and was on numerous short lists to be rookie of the year is suddenly on the outs. Is McKenzie that much better? Why does this manager give so much leash to some players and others are forever an injury away from purgatory?

    • In the post-game interviews, Ale reiterated that every spot on the roster is open for competition and that is a good thing. I suspect Elliot simply has not been as sharp as McKenzie in training.

      • I’ll believe Ale, when Ale or Haris get sat down.

      • I believe Ale since Accam is riding the pine along with Elliot…

      • Curtin stated last week that he will likely platoon Elliot and McKenzie going forward, depending on the matchup. Said he will go with Elliot if he needed better distribution and his height for the aerial advantage, and go with McKenzie if he needed more speed and physicality.

    • Generally players have gotten a long leash because they have had USL level players below them. I fully expect Trusty to get back in there. It’s only been 2 games and it never hurts to get fully healthy, especially when the next guy is playing well.

    • McKenzie should have been higher than a 6. He made ONE bad play all night, and several good ones. He was just as good as Trusty. He has the speed that Elliot lacks. I’m not saying Elliot deserved to lose his job, but McKenzie hasn’t done anything wrong either, for Elliot to get it back.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        Agreed. I personally thought McKenzie should have been MOTM. There was more than one occasion where Trusty misplayed a ball and Mark backed him up.

    • pragmatist says:

      The 6 may be a hair low, but I think the situation may be that we have 2 guys capable of playing the spot, and Curtin’s riding the hot hand right now. McKenzie is playing well, and he’s part of the “play the kids” motto that everyone’s been clamoring for. The FO is obliging and playing the kids.
      .
      I know that’s an odd statement since Elliot’s only about 3-4 years older, but there isn’t a big reason to make a change right now since Trusty and McKenzie are playing well together and holding things down.
      .
      Our failures this season have not been the fault of our center backs. So I just don’t think Curtin wants to break them up.

      • I think the “hot hand” thing is it. Curtin doesn’t like to make a change after a win unless he has to.

      • It is most definitely the “hot hand” thing. Curtin tries to change the lineup as little as possible after a win. I too want to see Elliott back in the lineup, because I think he’s a really fine young player. However, McKenzie has also been excellent. I can’t believe we have 3 really strong young CBs. Don’t tell me this franchise is actually doing something right…

    • Old Soccer Coach says:

      They play a really high, really aggressive restraining line. If the opposing forwards have pace McKenzie is as fast as Trusty. While Elliott is not slow,it takes him longer to get those long legs moving.
      .

  3. John P. O'Donnell Jr says:

    How amazing is it that two 19 year old defenders can take the ball away, turn, and make a smart pass? Both Trusty and McKenzie seem to have no panic in their game. Also if you haven’t been watching the Bethlehem Steel, Derrick Jones has raised his game another level. The game against Indy Eleven was quite entering despite the poor artificial turf they played on.

    • Fontana seems the same way as well in his limited time this year. Jones has got to start one of these next 3 games.

  4. Great to see the young centerbacks get some nice games under their belts. This weekend we will see for real how good they are. I watched the Atlanta/NYRB match last night and any mistake is likely to be punished, even a half step off of BWP. I hope they step up and that they get some help from the midfield, otherwise it may be a long night.

    Overall a very enjoyable game, not something I have been able to say recently regarding Union games. Coach even seemed to have a game plan. Surely that doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that Adam Cann works there now right?

    • You know, that’s an excellent point… maybe Adam Cann has been slipping Coach Curtin some notes during practices?…

  5. Andy Muenz says:

    No Geiger Counter? I personally thought the ref had a fairly poor game given that almost complete lack of cards. Rosenberry deserved (at least) one early and several RSL players were getting a little chippy later on (including a couple of hands to the face very late).

  6. Andy Muenz says:

    Interesting that you said the SOB’s dooped 4 times on Saturday. They also dooped after the goal that got called back. However, I’m not so sure that they dooped after the first goal, given that it was scored at exactly 20:10. My wife and I sang Four Leaf Clover while celebrating. Can anyone who was in the River End tell me what was done there?

  7. Tim Jones says:

    Adam Henley was not the only opposing right back to be subbed off at halftime last week because the organization’s left wing was crisping him into toast.
    .
    18 year old Michee Ngalina did the same to Conor Lade up at Lehigh last Wednesday, sufficiently so that Red Bull’s 2 coach John Wolyniec had to take Lade off at half time and replace him with Nick De Vera.
    .
    Ngalina has excellent pace and excellent technical skill. His is a name thorough Union fans need to file away for the future.

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