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Player Ratings and Analysis: Union 2-2 Dallas

photo by Daniel Gajdamowicz

player ratings contributed by Mikey Cann

As with all seasons, we must learn to take the bad with the good. The downs with the ups. The late losses with the late wi… ties.

The Freddy Adu signing with the Freddy Adu performance.

Adu’s first PPL Park appearance was memorable only in that it showed any player, regardless of stature, salary or skill, may be played out of position. Responding to questions about his use of Adu, Nowak said he didn’t want robots on the field. His players should be free to act and play creatively.

The issue this year has certainly not been a lack of freedom, but the offense that has looked as unfocused as a teenager given the freedom to choose between XBOX and math.

Let us outline the ideal scenario that could have unfolded following the Freddy Adu signing. First, Adu announces that he has been playing on his knees for the past eight years and that he’s actually six feet tall and awesome fast. Then the Union make clear that they recognize the incredible talent assembled on the roster has lacked a fulcrum, a focal point, a guiding hand all season and they intend to give young squire Freddy the keys to the car. Adu slots into the middle and off we go.

Instead it appears we will play that old guessing game with Adu. Striker? Wide middie? False nine? The only certainty is that, like Ruiz before him, Adu will get minutes.

Did anyone watch the game tape beforehand?

It’s always strange to hear a coach say, “That’s what they do, it’s what we expect” after a match in which it looked like their team was caught off guard. Dallas’ five man midfield overran the Union, with Villar accepting balls in space on counterattacks and spreading quickly to the wings. While Chavez and Shea were kept in check, they were constantly on the ball. Which means Dallas did exactly what they wanted to do.

To counter an outnumbering in the middle, you must get the ball up the wings, which means you and your own must be out there to receive, pass and move. In the first half, only Sheanon Williams showed the wherewithal to push high and offer an outlet. Gabe Farfan had a fine showing in the second forty-five, but neither player consistently connected with the front five. If you think the league isn’t aware of how dangerous Sheanon can be on the wing, just look at how high Brek Shea pushed in the second half to pin back the Union speedster. Theoretically, this should have opened space for the outside midfield, but the Union have struggled at pinpointing their opponents’ weaknesses all season, relying instead on their relentless pressure and strong defense to earn points.

That strategy must change because the defense is going through a rough patch. Aside from Carlos Valdes’ big error, the defense was fairly stout against Big D. But the fact is that the back five have been tested more often in the past few weeks. The number of middle-third turnovers has increased and the defense has found themselves on the back foot more than they or the coaching staff would like.

Set Pieces…sigh

And then there are the set pieces. Granted, this is a fairly heightless squad. But Danny Califf, Carlos Valdes, Keon Daniel and Veljko Paunovic are all capable of getting on the end of a well-served ball. And therein lies the problem—the service has been atrocious in 2011. One headed goal all season attests to the team’s struggles in the air, but it has really been the crosses that have let the finishers down. While Marfan can swing in a nice one and Williams seems to have mastered the low, early cross, the team as a whole has stopped charging the box in expectation of a delivery. Kudos here to Paunovic, who does a wonderful job of following plays into the box and almost earned a goal for his troubles on Saturday.

Player ratings

Faryd Mondragon – 7

Mondragon could not be faulted on either goal, and did well to stop the initial strike on the second.  He was his usual self in keeping the back line organized, but it was surprising to see zero full field runs by the Union keeper when Dallas began to resort to time wasting in the second half.

Sheanon Williams – 5

Sheanon was left with the unenviable task of controlling Brek Shea as Dallas attacked almost exclusively down his side in the second half. He struggled at times, but so has every right back in the league in the same position.

Carlos Valdes – 4

Difficult to give the normally reliable center back anything higher when he hands the opposition a goal. Had to spend much of his time helping outside on Shea, and was essential in keeping crosses out of the box, but the obvious mistake was a big one. Valdez also had struggled under pressure to start play though the midfield.

Danny Califf – 7.5

Califf was left alone in the box many times as Valdez was forced to help wide, and did a very solid job on balls in the air. Dallas pressure at times forced Califf into long clearances or panicked passes, but a lack of support from the midfield is as much to blame as the center back.

Gabriel Farfan – 6

It was the tale of two games for Garfan. When Dallas came at him he looked suspect and was probably fortunate that they focused much of their effort on the other side. But when allowed to get forward, he can be a difference maker as he showed in the final 20 minutes, setting up the second penalty and working well with Keon Daniel on the wing.

Brian Carroll – 5.5

A fairly typical showing from the defensive midfielder. It probably doesn’t help his play to have a different attacking midfielder rotated in front of him every ten minutes, particularly Paunovic, who just continues to drop further back until he is practically in the net. It would be ideal if Carroll took it upon himself to be a little more creative with the ball, but with the defensive ineptitude of several Union midfielders, his stability is the middle is more than enough.

Justin Mapp – 4.5

Mapp would have a lower rating if not for the drawn penalty to even the score at one. Aside from that play, Mapp was largely a liability and, with Brek Shea coming at him, it was a wonder that he lasted as long as he did before being subbed off.

Veljko Paunovic – 4

Paunovic seems to drift in and out of the flow of the game constantly, and was not in the flow enough in this one. He is frustrating as a forward because he plays as if he is a midfielder. He is frustrating as a midfielder because he plays behind Brian Carroll.  Some of the blame also goes to the coaching staff forleaving him in for the full 90—he simply does not have the level of fitness to stay in for the entire game.

Freddy Adu – 5

Adu was the center of attention for both the fans and for Dallas at the beginning of the game. He was man-marked for much of the first half and struggled to get enough time to show his creativity. His first through-ball nearly put Le Toux in, but these plays were too few and far between. Had several nice moments taking on defenders in the second half, but the touch is just not quite there yet.

Jack McInerny – 5

Similar to Adu, McInerny was moved around several times and he struggled to really find space to be a difference maker. He may have the best attacking instincts on the team as a striker but his touch wasn’t good enough for that to matter in this one. He simply looks out of place in the midfield.

Sebastian Le Toux – 7

It was great to see Seba get back on the score sheet even if he is still without a goal from open play. The PKs were both well taken and he gave his usual hard work in both the midfield and up top. The free-kick taking remains the most frustrating aspect of his play, but it does not appear that the primary kick-takers will be changing any time soon.


Danny Mwanga – 5.5

Mwanga came in for Adu in the 62nd minute and the Union as a whole became more attack-minded. When Mwanga pushed forward he was stronger on the ball than the other attackers had been. In the end, he was unable produce when needed in the final third.

Roger Torres – 6

Torres still has not shown the touch that we would expect from someone of his talent, but the difference between him and Paunovic in the center was immediately noticeable. He started several attacks, and almost put Mwanga in for the winner. Also a pleasant surprise to see Torres get an opportunity on a free kick. He didn’t miss by much.

Keon Daniel – 7

He can only be rated for the time he spent on the pitch and for that be did wonderfully. It is still baffling why Keon has not been able to earn more time as the entire game settles down whenever he enters. His defensive ability allows the outside backs to get forward—which is exactly what allowed Garfan to be in position to make the run that led to the second Union penalty kick.



  1. Good stuff. Is it even possible to say how frustrated we are about the lineups more than we have been?
    Jack Mac was playing right midfielder for a while. RIGHT MID!!! With Adu on the left. Really, Nowak?
    Mapp should not start again. Paunovic doesn’t desrve minutes over Torres or Marfan.
    I’m just going to give my dream lineup and leave it at that:
    ——Mwanga — Jack Mac
    -Daniel – Adu – Carrol – Le Toux
    -Garfan – Califf – Valdes – WIlliams

    • I wouldn’t mind seeing:

      —Mwanga-Le Toux—

      be given a shot.

      • I would do Marfan over Le Toux on the Right wing easily… honestly I can’t stomach starting Le Toux anymore. Aimless runs, bad touches, bad decisions. Given the benefit of the doubt 4 months too long.

      • James. Wow, guess you didnt see that the only reason we were in the houston game was his amazing assist. Maybe you should go back and look at them all, since he leads the team in assists by a landslide.

        I guess the fact that he was a goal scoring machine make you blind….as a bat. They changed up the offense this year, and iut changed thee way he does things, but he is still the best offensive player we have. Maybe that will change but look at how many goals he has had a hand in.

      • Yeah and he also leads the team by a landslide in minutes despite a run of form that makes Torres (the one in England) recent drought look like the Great Flood. Fact is he simply lacks form, and with players like Torres/Daniel/Marfan providing more sparks of brilliance in sub appearances than Le Toux has provided in whole games recently, Le Toux IS the odd man out.
        And I agree Nowak changed the offense this year, for the worse. Bring in Ruiz to throw a wrench in this teams chemistry was the worst mistake of this teams short history. Nowak is also continuously dragging the team down by putting our asinine lineups and refusing to play the players who deserve it.
        Le Toux is way past getting a free pass … any other coach would sit a striker who hasn’t scored from the run of play all season long.

      • Andrew Desiderio says:

        The Union would be in first place by at least 10 points if this was consistenly the lineup all year (Torres for Adu before he came)…never in my life have I seen a coaching staff change the lineup so drastically every game for really on apparent reason. You can’t even say they are looking for the right combination. Keon has not had a bad outing and plays well when he comes in and it doesn’t matter. Marfan scores and plays well every game and still doesn’t play. I’m over Mapp scoring 2 goals against Toronto and riding one performance. It must be frustrating as a team to have to win the game starting after halftime. Find my another team that makes numerous subs right after half, most teams start the correct players and don’t waste subs on players that should have started in the first place. Novak can bring in players, he just has no idea what to do with them once they get here.

      • this is by far my dream lineup. and with how mercurial Mwanga, Jack Mac, and Paunovic have looked up top, I cant justify sitting LeToux. Love Marfan out right. PLEASE DEAR GOD NO MORE MAPP.

      • PhillyHotspur says:

        We have a few problems, but LeToux is far from one of them……………

        Yeah, he isn’t scoring like last year but lets get our expectations in order………..he still drops some lovely passes, has a great work rate and is the engine to this club. plain and simple

        The biggest problem is probably the 18th different line-up of the year….

        And JackMac getting the start again…….i see giving him a spot start last week, but DannyBoy is simply the better option up front.

        I’m down w/ Sonny’s formation….Mapp has some quality, but too slow and a liability heading back .

        And the Serb………outside of that wonder strike vs Chicago, his minutes probably should be scaled back.

        Lastly……2nd year in……….looking good for the playoffs. Perspective fellow DOOPs……..GS

  2. What made me extremely frustrated on the set pieces was the one where Roger Torres took on and barely missed and then Le Toux took one from the same place. If they would have just thought about it, clearly Torres should have, without a doubt took that 2nd freekick, he knew how much he missed and how much he needed to put it on net.
    We have talked about this before, Le Toux not starting is not an option with his work ethic.
    Mapp can not start and Paunovic can start but if he does has to come off at half and even then he needs to play his position, constantly jamming up the midfield and back line by his laziness.
    Atleast we got a point out of it, I think Mwanga should have done better with Torres ball but a lot of credit goes to Hartman, he came up big for Dallas late.

  3. santas grotto says:

    Great ratings. Hard to really argue, except for Garfan. I still maintain that he is responsible for allowing Chavez to get in behind on the second goal. He is all at sea with his positioning. However, when Daniel comes in on that side he seems more confident and obviously gets more help, so maybe not entirely his fault. Califf deserves his rating and maybe higher given he is defending the middle and cheating on Garfan’s side to help out. Le Toux can’t play midfield, end of story. Mapp and Paun need to sit and Torres, Marfan and Daniel need a steady run in the side to develop some consistency.

  4. Yep, yep and yep.. Mapp needs some time off so does pauno. Let’s get the younger guys in and keep the energy up. Sweet god please put in Okugo. If I see Migs get more time and Okugo is still sitting, I might literally crap my pants. LeToux is on and off, he might need to sit or just not start and come in as a sub. Might help clear his head and then he can release the DOOPS!

  5. I know it is fashionable to hate on Mapp, as pretty much everyone on here is asking for him to ride the bench the rest of the season, but I thought he wasn’t horrible at this game. He didn’t dribble too much as usual, and got the ball off his feet more. How is Jack Mac getting a higher score than him? I went to the game and then rewatched it later at home, and Jack Mac definitely did not play better than Mapp. It seems by standard Mapp has a lower score based on how people feel about him from the start.

    • true, Jack Mac was horrendous, and Mapp wasn’t particularly bad. Its not that I hate Mapp, but he is EXTREMELY frustrating, and while he did draw the PK I had no confidence that he would have taken a shot with his right foot in that situation. I just feel the team plays their best when Daniel is on the pitch. And Marfan’s creativity, and his early crosses, have been great.

  6. I have to disagree on the rating for Mondragon. I know everyone loves him, and I’m sure he is a very nice guy, but he is not an exceptional keeper. He is off his line way too much, and he needs to stop booting that ball up the field every, single time. His reaction time also seems to be a bit off sometimes.

    • Finally someone who recognizes Mondragon’s offensive faults. From Week 4 I’ve been saying to a couple friends of mine that he needs to give the ball to the back line. They have the passing and as we have seen Gabe and Sheanon can get forward and act as extra midfielders. But that can only happen when the passing is there. Whenever he rockets the ball 9 times out of 10 it becomes a turnover. While his frequent coming off his line and reaction are a different story when he and the back line are at their best that doesn’t matter.

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