Player ratings / Union

Analysis & player ratings: DCU 2-3 Union

Photo: Michael Long

Sunday’s 3-2 road win over D.C. United was a big game for the Union, but it was also a revealing one that told a lot about who the Union are as a team right now.

Possession vs. counterattack

Union manager John Hackworth has talked about wanting to play possession soccer. At home, they try to do just that.

On the road, no such effort is made. The Union become a counterattacking team, content to sit deep and wait for opponents to make a mistake upon which they can seize. This was evident Sunday against D.C. United, when Philadelphia demolished United on the counterattack. “We know what that team’s about,” United head coach Ben Olsen said after the game. “They have a long throw-in, which is basically their best attack. And they’re good on the counterattack.”

The possession stats bear this out for the season.

Union possession stats

GamePhiladelphiaOpponent
Total Average4654
Kansas City4753
@ Columbus3565
New England5743
@ New York4159
@ Columbus4357
Toronto6535
@ D.C. United3466
Home Average5644
Road Average3862

This isn’t unusual in soccer. Considering how defensively strong the Union back line and Brian Carroll are, it’s a logical way to earn a road result. However, the attractive flow that comes with possession soccer is sacrificed as a result.

Passing patterns tell the game’s story

The two teams had very different approaches: United sought to hold possession and attack. Philadelphia was content to sit deep and let them.

On paper, United held 66 percent of possession. However, that stat doesn’t indicate time of possession, but rather the percentage of total passes.

United spent much of the game pinging the ball around its own end, with defenders making 57 percent of United’s passes. In contrast, Philadelphia’s back line made just 32 percent of the Union’s passes. Up field, United’s attacking six outpassed their Union counterparts just 178 to 139.

However, United’s center midfielders played far more of an attacking role, making 55 percent of their 107 passes past the midfield stripe. Their Union counterparts made just 41 percent of their passes past midfield, with Brian Carroll’s distribution more advanced than Keon Daniel’s.

The goalkeepers’ passing fit the pattern too. Philadelphia’s Zac MacMath kicked all but one of his passes past midfield and predictably completed just 6 of 31 passes. United chose to maintain possession on goal kicks, with Bill Hamid sending just 8 of his 36 passes past midfield, completing 81 percent of all his passes.

This doesn’t happen by accident. It’s part game plan, part player tendencies.

An unbalanced attack — fullbacks

Some Union midfielders have taken a lot of criticism this year, but no one player deserves blame for the midfield’s poor fluidity. Rather, it’s the combination of different players and their contrasting tendencies.

The fullbacks play a part.

Historically, the Union deployed their fullbacks high up the pitch, effectively as wingbacks.

Their overlapping runs have been in short supply this season, however.

On the left, that appears at least partially due to Ray Gaddis’ weak left foot. Most of his passes are made with his right foot, even the short ones. Defenders give him the left, because he can’t do as much there. He has yet to complete a cross this season.

Now, the Union seem to lean more toward Sheanon Williams to begin the attack. Since opening day, when Hackworth surprised Kansas City by deploying Gaddis at left back, Williams’ attacking touches have far outpaced those by Gaddis.

Attacking touches - Union fullbacks

gameWilliamsGaddis
Average5645
Kansas City4360
@Colorado4933
New England8453
@New York5827
@Columbus6136
Toronto6035
@D.C.3420
(Includes all passes, dribbles and crosses attempted)
A disconnected attack — midfield

Williams isn’t getting the same number of overlap opportunities that he used to get either, however.

He used to be paired with a right midfielder who looked more often to pass or dribble, which opened up opportunities for his own runs.

Danny Cruz attacking chalkboard vs. DCU. (Left: Completed passes. Right: Possession lost/incomplete passes.)

Danny Cruz attacking chalkboard vs. DCU. (Left: Completed passes. Right: Possession lost/incomplete passes.)

This season, Danny Cruz has been preferred, and Cruz spends more time looking to make deep runs than he does in the short passing game. He hasn’t shown he’s capable of creating off the dribble the same way the Farfans or Freddy Adu can.

Cruz completed just 11 passes Sunday. (In comparison, every other starting midfielder completed at least 21.) Just three of those completions went forward.

Cruz made three terrific runs Sunday. He assisted a goal on one. Hamid adeptly cut off Cruz’s shooting angle on another. Cruz failed to find a Union cutter on the third. These runs were part of the game plan.

However, by constantly looking for these runs, Cruz often fails to avail himself to his teammates for short passes. In contrast, watch Gabriel Farfan when he pairs with Daniel. He comes to the ball, finds the game, and the two exchange quick, short passes that accelerate the Union’s tempo.

Put simply, that’s not Cruz’s game. He’s not a creator. He’s a receiver looking for the bomb from his quarterback. If his quarterback — or central attacking midfielder — is Michael Farfan, who often looks for the long through ball, then he might get it.

Keon Daniel's total touches vs. DCU.

Keon Daniel’s total touches vs. DCU.

But it’s been Daniel of late, and that’s where the final disconnect comes in.

Daniel typically dropped deep and drifted left Sunday, as he often does. He remained a steadying presence who holds possession well, but if he is to be considered a center attacking midfielder, then he was out of position. (See Daniel’s heat map at right.)

Meanwhile, Cruz spent his time so far up the right flank that he was often out of Daniel’s passing range. (See Cruz’s heat map below.)

If you’re wondering why Michael Farfan has seemed invisible at times, it’s not solely because of him or Carroll. It’s that Daniel, Cruz and Gaddis each have natural tendencies that pull them away from the players with whom they could be connecting.

Random observations
  • Conor Casey and Jack McInerney are the hottest strike duo in MLS right now.
  • D.C. United is a bad team with a weak back line.
  • Heard in the press box, from me to Dave Zeitlin: Farfans simply make the game fun to watch.
  • No fights? No red cards? Wait, Gabriel Farfan didn’t start?
  • The game’s last play was a Carlos Ruiz dive in the box that didn’t get a call. How appropriate.
Danny Cruz total touches vs. DCU.

Danny Cruz total touches vs. DCU.

Player ratings

Zac MacMath: 4

MacMath again saved the routine shots, but little more. He has improved his control of the box, but he nearly surrendered a goal when he tried to catch a lofted pass to Lio Pajoy when he could have punched.

Sheanon Williams: 7

Williams created two goals and saved a third. United’s second goal falls partially on him, however, as he retreated from Daniel Woolard rather than close and gave Woolard space for a perfect cross.

Amobi Okugo: 7

Lost his mark on the Pajoy goal, but assisted on a Union goal. Otherwise, solid in the back and tidy in possession.

Jeff Parke: 8

Made the necessary defensive plays all day. Parke and Okugo combined to intercept 25 United passes.

Ray Gaddis: 4

Continues to make up for his poor defensive positioning with terrific athleticism. Cleared one would-be goal off the line, but was at fault on 3 of United’s best 4 chances: He lost Dwayne De Rosario’s back door cut that led to United’s first goal, allowed Chris Pontius’ header on goal, and was beat by Kyle Porter, whose cross forced Williams’ sliding save.

Brian Carroll: 6

Good defensively, ordinary in possession. His perfect sliding interception created the Union’s first goal and set the day’s tone.

Danny Cruz: 5

Made three great runs and one great pass. Otherwise, played little role in the game. Cruz makes good runs, but his incessant search for them takes him out of the short passing game, making him an occasional home run threat and little more.

Keon Daniel: 4

Daniel held possession well, but he played so deep that he seldom engaged the Union’s attack. He made just 35 percent of his 42 passes past the midfield stripe. Had he looked up instead of shooting in the 88th minute, he would have seen Gabriel Farfan wide open for a potentially easy goal.

Michael Farfan: 5

With Daniel sitting deep and Gaddis offering no overlapping threat, Farfan had to actively search for the ball. He found it far too little, but when he did, he occasionally produced gems like his two perfect through balls to Cruz 10 minutes into the second half. He remains less a threat on the left than centrally or on the right.

Conor Casey: 9

Did everything. He scored, created a second goal, held up possession well, won an impressive 8 headers, and even sent in a couple of good crosses. A terrific game that harkened back to his pre-injury days.

Jack McInerney: 9

Touched the ball just 30 times, fewer than any starter on either team. But it was his off-the-ball runs that devastated United. His finishing remains lethal.

Substitutes

Michael Lahoud: 5

Ably helped the Union kill the game, providing defensive cover for Gaddis and making wise, safe passes.

Antoine Hoppenot: 5

Didn’t have time to do much, but scared United briefly when he won a corner.

Gabriel Farfan: 6

Entered late and made an impact. His chip shot may have been off, but he created the opportunity for himself. Made a good run that Daniel missed late in the game.

This remains my best 11.

This remains Dan’s suggested best 11.

Geiger Counter

Hilario Grajeda: 5

Grajeda was fortunate to not lose control of the game as referees have in this rivalry’s prior matches. He could have easily handed out a few more yellow cards. It was as if both sides agreed before the game not to get into the same sorts of scuffles that marred last year’s matches. Did Grajeda play a part in that with a pregame chat? Or did he have nothing to do with it?

Preferred lineup for Saturday against New England

MacMath, Williams, Okugo, Parke, G. Farfan, Carroll, Daniel/Kleberson, M. Farfan, Le Toux, McInerney, Casey (4-3-3)

UPDATE: To view the full chalkboard for this game, click here.

70 Comments

  1. I was waiting for this and I got it.
    MacMath : Wasn’t at fault for any of the goals, but hey he could have been – maybe he will be next time!!!!!! So 4.
    Okugo: Directly at fault for the second goal (and this time he can’t hide behind the fact it was Henry who got away from him), but hey it’s Okugo! Have a 7!

    • Okugo also assisted on a goal. That balances it out.

      MacMath was average. (See my comment below, re: 4-5 rating.) He stopped the 3 shots that were directly at him. He didn’t get the ones that weren’t. He nearly gave up the 3rd goal by not punching. Sooner or later, he has to make a big save.

    • Okugo also left his man for the 1st goal, btw.

      It wasn’t his man at first, but watch it a couple times. The reason he came in a little late with a block-attempt was because he watched the play for a few seconds instead of getting back and finding the open runner.

      That might be reasonable for a center midfielder looking to counter, but unacceptable for a center back.

    • The Black Hand says:

      Both of DC’s goals were not exactly impossible to stop. They would have required fine saves, but both were placed very clost to Zac. He just never seems to make THE SAVE and it’s becoming very hard to excuse. We are really going to need him to step up his game…quite a bit.
      .
      Okugo had fault in both goals actually. If he is to be the CB that everyone wants him to be, he will have to tighten up coverage within his 18. Actually, due to Hackworth’s thinning out of the CB depth, Amobi HAS to be CB that everyone wants him to be.

      • You aren’t wrong about Zac at all … I understand his flaws. It’s just that, when looking at a game and judging performance, “He didn’t stand on his head!?!?! What a bum!!!!” isn’t a reasonable or realistic attitude to take towards a GK. I doubt many other teams look at their GKs like that.

        And yes … this is why Okugo at CB is a disaster. As a CB, his 1st 2nd and 3rd priorities are to play defense and prevent goals. He hasn’t been doing that recently. As a CB, an assist doesn’t matter. AT ALL. Now, we all know Okugo is/can be a great two way talent, but if he isn’t playing in the midfield that talent is wasted. And Hackworth is totally to blame.

      • The Black Hand says:

        It could be within reason that other clubs don’t comment about their keeper like that because their keeper is, in fact, better than Zac. I am not a fan of MacMath…not even a little bit. I think we should cut the cord ASAP!

  2. The Black Hand says:

    A 4 for Gaddis???? Really???? Did you switch his, and Shaenons? No way, Dan!!! Was this based off of; just not liking the kid?
    MacMath- What did he do well?
    Farfan- Is the 5 just a stock rating for #21?

    I’m not seeing what the basis is on the ratings.

    • Actually, I like Gaddis. But he did little to support the attack and was at fault for 3 of the 4 best DCU goal chances.

      And the 5 for Farfan? Well, 4-5 is my average rating. If you’re 5, you probably helped the team a little more than you hurt it. If you’re 4, you probably hurt the team a little more than you helped.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Cruz’ assist helped the team, yet he got the 4. Marfan, really, provided little-to-nothing but somehow got the 5.
        I don’t care for Cruz’ game but I feel that he matched Farfan, as far as being effective. Both were probably in the 3 range.

      • I gave Cruz a 5, the same as Marfan. See? We agree. 🙂

      • The Black Hand says:

        At last! I knew this day would come. My mistake, Dan.

    • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

      Williams attacked well and created chances. Goals number 2 and 3 were both created by Sheanon. He did very well on Sunday, better than he has all year with regards to the attack. Ray simply is not an attacking factor at left back.

      You would like to see Farfan have a rating lower than Cruz in that game? Absolutely not. If anything they should have both been lower, but we get it you, you’re not Far-Fan (see what i did there?)

      • The Black Hand says:

        Haha…very clever, Eli. Your right, I’m not. The reason being that he is not very good…or at least has been playing like someone that is not very good. Endless excuses for Farfan. He was outplayed by Cruz and I am far from a Cruz-Fan (I’m clever too!) Cruz has almost equaled Marfan’s scoring output from last year.

        I can’t see Gaddis as the fault for those chances, and definitely not the goals. Williams and Okugo, however, were. A 4 is ridiculously low for Gaddis. He, unlike Williams, played defense throughout the game. How he gets a 4 and Okugo gets a 7, is beyond me. Assist, or no assist.

        What did Farfan do to help the club?

      • I agree with you that these ratings tend to skew towards Dan’s personal feelings. That being said, how could they not be, its his opinion, I think for the most part they’re close.
        .
        However, I agree Gaddis was low, should’ve been a 5-6. Marfan was high if only bc I barely remember him doing very much, which isn’t good for an attacking player.

    • JediLos117 says:

      Take off the rosey colored Gaddis glasses. Dan literally spelled it out for you.
      .
      Progress has been slow and painful.
      .
      G. Farfan should get the nod.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Gaddis is becoming a solid LB. If we had a capable midfield, he would not be relied on to support the attack.
        .
        Gaddis has made some big plays, that get no mention whatsoever.
        .
        Gabe Farfan is not a very good LB.

      • If Daniel were deployed out wide left – which is where he spends more time than in the middle anyway, it seems – he could provide the cover and outlet for Gaddis. Even when Garfan was deployed there it helped. Gaddis is not a bad LB, but he isn’t elite. Yet. He’s also a 2nd year player, let him continue to grow. Gaddis provides more to the team than Danny Cruz, and Cruz continues to get the nod.

      • I would prefer Garfan in front of Gaddis, I like Gaddis and am willing to give him some time, but while he’s learning I think Garfan is the better choice to help cover his definciancies, Keon drifts left but I don’t think his natural position is out left, and Garfan provides more defense than Keon as well

      • I agree, Garfan provides much more cover. Keon doesn’t necessarily play defensively, so much as he plays in the defensive half as opposed to offensive, if that makes sense.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I think that we are all overlooking the many blunders that Gabe made, while at LB. We are in a position, where we have the ability to give Gaddis more time. I think we should take it. He is very good and will grow more accustomed to the LB. We did give Gabe time.

  3. Southside Johnny says:

    Nice job. I agree with others that Gaddis is improving, but not fast enough for me to give up my initial view that he just isn’t cut out for LB. He would be better on the right, but I just don’t see him becoming a strong defender any time soon. Garfan is better. I still want the old Marfan back from wherever he is hidden and continue to hope, but I can’t buy Daniel over Kleberson at least for couple of starts. Otherwise, I’m with you.

  4. I won’t stop feeling uneasy about this team until we beat a good team playing well. No matter what the record I can’t feel totally good about the Union until I see that.

    But god knows when we will see another good team in the MLS.

    • Remember the first 25 minutes of the SKC game? I still think that is the best they’ve played all year. There is some potential there for sure. Next good team challenge will be against LA.

  5. Jim Presti says:

    These ratings are fairly accurate.
    .
    Daniel did play too deep for a CAM. I’m not entirely sure Hackworth wanted him there. It seemed like we were playing an empty-bucket. Intentionally or not. On a positive note, he led the team in Possession with a 22, and the midfield defensively with a 16.
    .
    Aside from the assist, I thought Cruz was wince-inducing.
    .
    Carroll I would drop to a 5, mostly because he had a Possession Differnetial of 1 for the entire match. Pretty low for a DMID.
    .
    Marfan I would slot down to a 4. I didn’t see him as playing any better than any of the other midfielders, and the data from Sunday shows that he played equally in terms of posession and defensive play to the other midfielders.
    .
    Lahoud I would bump up to a 6, mostly because he helped to contain Pontius.
    .
    Just my thoughts. Great work Dan.

  6. LeToux starting? I hope you threw his name in there as a joke.

    • If we’re playing him on the right instead of Cruz, I’m fine with it. As this article stated, Sheanon’s overlapping runs are one of his biggest strengths, and Cruz doesn’t seem to allow him to showcase that. I think Sheanon and Le Toux would link up a lot better. I also think Le Toux could give a more serviceable crossing option to Conor and Jack than Cruz has displayed. Obviously Le Toux isn’t as strong a midfielder as a striker, but I think he’s a stronger right midfielder than Cruz given the players around him.

      • Jim Presti says:

        A better option instead of Le Toux would be Garfan or Marfan. Le Toux has proven time and time again under multiple systems that he is a terrible midfielder.

      • I agree that I would want a natural midfielder there, but we’re talking about the author’s projected lineup, which already had the brothers Farfan on the field playing other positions, so I can see why he went with Le Toux on the right. If you keep Gaddis in or you put Kleberson/Torres in the middle and bump Daniel out left, then you put one of the twins on the right, but given the rest of the formation he put out there, I’m claiming that Le Toux is a smarter option than Cruz on the right.

  7. Dan – Nice write up as always.

    It’s always funny to read people’s reactions to ratings and it always comes down to if you like a player, you’ll see this player in more of a positive light. And if you don’t like him, you’ll see every little mistake or flaw in his game. Simple as that.

    We all have these biases (myself included), but I guess that’s what makes the sport so great.

    • Well said. (And thanks! 🙂 ) That’s the difficult task: Viewing it objectively and seeing the actual facts, not the facts that you saw in the past that may color your judgment now. For example, I like how the Farfans play. Not just their quality, but their style. But you have to objectively evaluate them on what they did that particular game, as opposed to what you know they can do and have done before. Did I nail it? Some comments already said I was too high. Was it just seeing the game differently, or bias? I hope the former. Another good example is Ray Gaddis, who I am a fan of but obviously didn’t rate highly, or Danny Cruz, who is exactly the type of hard-working player I personally like on a team (see my past Danny Califf raves) but who obviously got a somewhat critical look in this post.

      Side note on Cruz: I actually rated him higher when I left the stadium and felt he played well. I watched the game on TV later, something I’d never done before, and saw his stats, and that revealed the deficiencies. Still not a bad game, just more a mixed bag than I initially realized.

  8. When was the goal line clearance by Gaddis? The only goal line clearance I remember was when MacMath was fouled trying to catch the ball. I don’t remember who was there for that, but was there another one I am forgetting?

  9. Andy Muenz says:

    Dan, Good job with both the overall analysis and the ratings. One question thoug. Isn’t it a little early to be worried about the lineup against Chicago when we still have New England and Seattle to play first? 🙂

  10. Great analysis. I like Gaddis but think you are correct about his weakness and that Garfan should start over him. My only complaint is WHERE IS KLEBERSON! We still have a missing piece and thought he was the solution. But coach won’t play him. Do u have any insight into this? Even though we are decent in the standings, we are not a threat to win the MLS cup without a star playmaker in the middle. I would love to see Kleberson and Torres on the pitch together. Could be very exiting and entertaining. Also agree with Le Toux for Cruz.

    • No unique insight on this. I think Hack is basically making him earn his way into the lineup, the same as anyone else.

  11. Cruz is incredibly hard working, so is the guy who picks up my trash. Neither should start in MLS.

    We do not have a deep squad, that much is obvious. However, either of Kleberson or Torres (or even the heavy touch of SLT) would be an upgrade over Daniel/Cruz. I am not a Torres fan, I think we over romanticize that Mwanga-TOrres combo to nip RBNY 2 years (!!!) ago and he gets pushed off the ball too easily. But at this point, I’m just going off the early season flashes from last year and the preseason Orlando match. I get Hack not wanting to play certain “Nowak” players, but he brought in Kleberson. His 11 minute runout looked more dangerous and created more offense than Daniel has all year.

    • Jim Presti says:

      Hack’s decision not play Torres has nothing to do with Nowack. There are better Midfielders on the roster. If you watched the PUMAS friendly, that was evident. His decision to not start/play Kleberson is interesting. I would be extremely surprised and concerned if he didn’t see minutes Saturday against NE.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        I truly think that is not a statement that anyone, anywhere can make. People throw away Torres’ excellent preseason because it was preseason, yet use a bad showing against Pumas after no PT for over a month as proof that he’s no good. Until he plays in MLS, for at least 45 minutes, in two or three games back to back, he is still a completely unknown quantity. And thus, he will remain an unknown quantity, cause Hack ain’t going to let that happen. But please, lay off Roger, he really has done everything asked of him. not really his fault that he plays for a team that doesnt value or seeks to develop his skill set.

      • I don’t care about preseason or Pumas (friendlies are another name for preseason anyway. I do however care about your point regarding valuing his skill. I like roger and have never been given reason to see him as anything but a team player and feel if we don’t think he has a future playing for us then we should allow him to go/be sold/traded/what have you. maybe he isn’t “good enough for this team” but as is pointed out above we won’t ever know without real playing time in real games in some amount of succession.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Not being “good enough” to crack this midfield sounds funny to me. How can you not be good enough to crack a terrible midfield. A look at Roger definitely couldn’t make things any worse.

      • Jim Presti says:

        I’m not digging into Torres. I actually value him highly. I just think on this team. There are better players suited for the wing and CAM. As a situational sub, he’s fine. I just don’t necessarily see a starting spot for him.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        Based on what? That again is my point.

      • Jim Presti says:

        Based on thye formation and system that Hack perfers. Essentially a 4-4-2 with Fullbacks pushing high.I mean where would you have Torres play? Who wwould he be starting over? Hack obviously perfers Daniel in the CM with Carroll. He likes the empty-bucket. Unless it’s on the right instead of Cruz, I don’t see him starting any time soon.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        No. He won’t play. I agree. I just don’t understand you valuing him highly. Or anyone who doesn’t rate him. My point is that I don’t know how anyone can rate him one way or another. Of course he won’t play, there isnt a doubt about that.

      • Eli, it’s not as if Roger hasn’t played in a Union shirt before. There are previous games to draw conclusions from. Throughout his career as a Union player, I have always like him coming in as a sub. I feel like he brings a spark to the game most of the time.
        .
        When thinking about the times that Roger started a game, I remember him being much less effective and if I recall requires a fairly early (~60th min) sub. So based on previous games he has played with this club, combined with the average/less than average shift he put in against PUMAs, a game he started, one could very easily draw the conclusion that he is a good sub but can’t be thought of when planning out the starting 11.
        .
        Another player who could be though of in a similar way was Danny Mwanga. He was super effective when coming off the bench around the 70th and tearing up tired players. When Mwanga was presented several chances to start, which I and I’m sure most Union fans were excited to see, he flubbed them and was very unproductive.
        .
        Just because people are arguing that he shouldnt start doesnt mean they dont like him or want to see him play.
        .
        If you run through our current midfielders that have been getting time, you can sort of understand why he isnt playing.

        Roger vs. Keon – different skill sets, different position generally, not a swap that would happen.

        Roger vs. Carroll – completely different skill sets, different position, wouldnt make any sense.

        Roger vs. Cruz – somewhat similar size, Cruz prefers to be out wide while I think Roger is really only a CAM, could be feasible.

        Roger vs. the Farfans – similar skill sets and play styles, Roger is easily better in possession and passing, but I can’t see him playing as much defense as either of these two, could be feasible, but not with how highly the Farfans are hyped up to be.

        Lahoud and Kleberson haven’t put in as much time, so I’m not going to bother with them.
        .
        I’m interested to hear your (Eli’s) and Jim’s thoughts on this.

        C-Dawg

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        The last time you saw Roger Torres play in MLS was basically in 2011. He has matured physically from then, when he was a teenager. I believe it is naive to base your opinion of a player from that far ago, especially when he is so young. Torres is a central player. Not a wide player. Roger was brought here to be a CAM and that’s what he is. Kleberson may turn out to be the only player to remotely resemble that type of player. Letting Torres play would require an acceptance from the coaching staff that Torres does not chase to his own end line defending (which I believe he should never be asked to do) torres must chase balls in the middle of the pitch, and harass people there. Why would you want your CAM to show defensive range? That just puts him out of position when he gets the ball.

      • The Black Hand says:

        Roger deserves a real look. Trouble is, he isn’t really very effective on the wing. Our central attacking mids have all seemed to drop back to Carroll, leaving us looking very much like an empty bucket. My theory on this is; Carroll can’t distribute forward, so the CAM checks back to give Carroll an outlet. (Could be Carroll-Hate, but I don’t think so.) Roger would get eaten alive in the defensive midfield. As long as Hackworth sticks to his 4-4-2, the team will always drift to the bucket. This leaves Roger sitting and wondering why…much like myself. Kleberson’s arrival pretty much guaranteed Roger’s banishment. He will move on and he will be good.

      • Jim – I know that in the Nowak sense. I was referring to the old saw that Hack’s moves have been to undo Piotrs moves. It was a little snarky.

        As for better midfielders on the Union, um, who? The closest you could get to universal agreement is Marfan.Who else is even close to as creative? I’m tmepted to say Kleberson cause he connected on a couple of passes, something not common with the starting mids.

      • Jim Presti says:

        ScottyMac-Torres does not have the fitness or size that the other Midfielders have to compete for a full 90. With the ball at his feet, Marfan and Kleberson [probably] are better options. He’s quick, but small. Torres has great value as a substitute and for depth. He plays a CAM/Wide Right. Aside from Cruz, name a player he should be starting over.

      • Kenso Josh says:

        Messi is tiny. I’d start him anywhere on our team. The point is, we don’t know about Rojer. We’ve seen flashes. Messi goes ninety. Can Rojer? Don’t know. Can Rojer grow into a game? We don’t know.

      • Jim Presti says:

        Messi is a world-class player. Playing with incredible chops. It’s a very different comparison.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        It’s actually not a different comparison in this context. Josh is not comparing Roger to Messi with regards to ability, just stature. Nowak said Roger couldn’t go a full 90 when he was 19 years old. So what? He’s 21 now and is fitter than he has ever been. So can he play 90? I’m not sure. I bet he’s a lot closer than we was in 2011. But he hasn’t gotten a shot, so who knows?

      • The Black Hand says:

        But it’s Messi’s ability that makes up for his stature. Roger lacks the quickness to play at the CF position.

    • JediLos117 says:

      I’m not high on Torres. I never have been. View him as short, slow, easily bumped off ball, kid in a man’s league, high risk/low reward, limited on defense…he a hopeful ball kinda guy.
      .
      I tend to believe that the coaching staff assesses him in training the same way. I dont think we need to see him in a game to assume he is now behind Kleberson in the depth chart.
      .
      I find it very interesting that in the 11 minutes he played this year he connected all 10 of his passes yet he earned a 0 in the castrol index. (Albright played 3 minutes and got a 13). He literally had not impact (positive or negative) on the game during his 11 minutes.

  12. Dan – I always look forward to these posts and the interesting comments. I’d love to see an article that just discusses the criteria for the ratings. I’m used to reading ratings in Italy where the highest I’ve ever seen was a 7.5 for a hatrick performance, game-winning goal that earned the team la salvezza. I agree that CC and Jack had great performances, but a 9 seems a bit high. Does that mean an automatic 10 for the first hat-trick? What about a hat-trick in a playoff game? Not much room to go beyond this 9. It would be interesting to see how you measure the performances and what everyone thinks of it.
    .
    For instance, if a guy has a terrible game, but puts in a game winning goal, how much weight do we give that? Are we rating the critical “moments” or the average play for the entire day?
    .
    Anyway, I appreciate the effort and analysis here (quality by the way!). Keep stirring the pot!

    • Good question. I was thinking about this myself, actually. Even among the PSP crew, we probably rate differently.

      For me, it’s kind of like this:

      0: The worst game in the history of games.

      1-3: Bad game. Obviously the lower you are, the worse you are.

      4: A bit below average. You probably took a bit more away from the table than you brought to it.

      5: Average. My default rating. Neither helped nor hurt your team, or if you did either, they probably balanced out in the end so that your effect on the game was pretty neutral.

      6: Above average game. You brought more than you took away.

      7: Good game.

      8: Very good game.

      9: Great game. Worthy of MLS team of the week.

      10: You were perfect. A hat trick. A shutout with 8-10 saves. 3 assists. Something like that.

      To answer more specific questions: I don’t use the way the Europeans do ratings as my guideline. Key plays do count more, but you try to capture the day on the whole. Not too scientific. I could usually move a guy’s rating one way or the other and it wouldn’t make much difference. (Was Gaddis a 5? I said 4. He could be 5.)

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        I concur with how Dan lays things out. On the whole, when I do ratings I move towards the middle, which is not me being political. Believe me, I’m a pretty volatile dude. but it’s a team game and mistakes/ good plays are rarely purely on one person. A good pass is often made possible by great team positioning, a defensive mistake can often be attributed to the inverse. That said, Jack’s brace along with Conor’s goal and assist made for excellent days from each. For as bad as the Union midfield has been, the forwards are still scoring goals and making chances for each other and for that they should be applauded.

  13. I think everyone can agree that they are growing increasingly more happy with the way our forwards are coming together (Black Hand, I know your love for Jack is slightly tampered), and with Hoppenot as a game changer off the bench, and Letoux in the wings. This is a huge plus, and maybe the first time we can say it in the short history of the club.
    .
    The defense has been solid mostly throughout the year, and I love what Williams and Okugo can provide on set pieces in the offensive end, great added benefit. They have been a little shakier as of late with following players in the box and reaction time, but for the most part solid. I think we all know what Gaddis is, and with proper cover on the midfield he is fine.
    .
    All that said, the midfield is such a massively glaring weakness. This is made all the more maddening by the fact that WE HAVE BETTER OPTIONS on the bench. I am conceding the fact that the Soumare/Okugo option is not happening, and that Brian Carroll will never be benched. Given both of those, Garfan is the best option on the left, he brings creativity and toughness, along with providing cover for Gaddis. Marfan has struggled this year, but I still believe he’s the best option on the right, he would also be able to bring Shaennon into the attack more. Kleberson (or Torres) MUST start at CAM. Keon is just clearly not fit for that position given the current construction and needs of this team.
    .
    The most important thing in all of this, is that we can not, CAN NOT, have any game in which 3 of our midfielders are Carroll, Daniel, Cruz or Lahoud. We WILL NOT continue to win that way. Cruz (his game is ready made for this) and Lahoud (as he was this game) are substitutes at best.
    .
    RIP Roger Torres and Bakary Soumare, we hardly knew ye’.

    • The Black Hand says:

      Even I can’t deny young Jack his due credit. He is doing IT.
      .
      I think that Gaddis will prove haters wrong. He is very, very talented and starting to come into his own defensively. I think he is on a tight leash, which is why you don’t see him move up as much as Williams.
      .
      I am soooo bummed about the way Bakary Soumare’s career (if you can call it that) here has crumbled. Especially, the more Amobi Okugo is being exposed at CB. I still feel that Okugo for Carroll, and Soumare to CB, would have made our club much, much stronger as a whole. But that is dirty water under the bridge now.
      .
      We need MacMath to be professional!! That one factor could be what makes or breaks us. To get to the postseason, the keeper is going to have to steal a couple. So far, that isn’t the case with Zac.
      .
      Roger and Bakary…You are missed. I hope your careers can continue, outside of the MLS, because you both could very much come back to haunt us.

  14. Dan, fantastic analysis. Pretty much spot on. A coach’s job is basically find a way to put his best players on the field and have them play together well. It’s obvious that Hack not only fails this but pretty much insists on failing. Situationally Danny Cruz is valuable, this was a situation where he was, but long term he just doesn’t belong. It’s safe to say that there has not been a lineup all year which gets our best players on the field. You have to take Gaddis out. He is failing as a left back. Use him as trade bait and maybe a combo of him and Soumare can get someone really good or three very serviceable parts in return. Gaddis cannot play on the left more than in a pinch. He just isn’t useful to the Union since Williams is on the right. With that said, Kleberson, Garfan (LB) and LeToux all need to find their way onto the field. 4-3-3 time with LeToux Casey and Jack up top. There’s just no other option IMO.

    • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

      Why would you want to mess with the hottest striking tandem in MLS? Not sure what Le Toux has shown to deserve a starting spot.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I think that, situationally, LeToux’s addition to the front line could be welcome. Both LeToux and Jack would flank the big man. Only thing killing the 4-3-3 is Captain Carroll.

      • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

        Don’t like Le Toux as a winger. Le Toux needs to be playing in Jack’s spot to be successful. And I call it Jack’s spot because Jack is already much much better in that role.

      • The Black Hand says:

        I agree, Jack is not giving up that spot. I thought LeToux might work, with he and Jack staggered slightly behind Casey. Both can make runs on either side of the big man. Reality is; LeToux doesn’t really need to be in the XI and the forwards ain’t broke, so no need to fix em.

      • Jim Presti says:

        Le Toux hasn’t done much to deserve a starting spot since 2011.

      • The Black Hand says:

        You are probably right about that.

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