Player ratings

Analysis & Player Ratings: Union 2-2 FC Dallas

Photo: Paul Rudderow

For the second time this season, the Union turned a man advantage into a draw at home, leaving four critical points on the table.

Entering the match against FC Dallas, a tie would not have seemed like the worst result, but considering the circumstances, the Union failed to capitalize against a tired team shorn of key players after they went down a man.

Playing into Dallas’ hands: Beware the 4-2-4.

Given their speed out wide and size up front, Dallas was always going to play a direct game. Running at the fullbacks, jostling in the box and pumping balls forward, Dallas has found plenty of success across MLS. But they are beatable.

Playing against a team like Dallas, ball retention is key. Playing simply and efficiently, the Union could have slowed the pace of the game, frustrating Dallas’ more volatile players when they were unable to amass the amount of touches they require to generate offense.

Instead, the Union did the opposite, mirroring Dallas and cutting the midfield out of their plans. With Sebastien Le Toux and Danny Cruz pushed as high as Conor Casey and Jack McInerney, the simple pass out to the wings was not on, because their high stance made the passing angle too acute. When either Brian Carroll or Michael Farfan picked his head up to locate a passing option, too frequently they found themselves staring at two flat lines of four facing them. With no staggering between the wide players and strikers, Dallas sat comfortably deep, knowing there were no angles to be exploited.

Press coverage

With only two bodies consistently in the midfield, Dallas found it a simple task to spread the ball wide to Jackson and Fabian Castillo, who needed only to pull 10 yards off their fullback to locate acres of space. Were it not for some scrambling defense, the Union would have found themselves behind in the early going when both wingers screamed forward, unchecked through the midfield.

Fortunately for John Hackworth, his fullbacks adapted quickly, playing a dangerous game of high pressure. Knowing the perils of allowing either winger to turn, Sheanon Williams and Ray Gaddis began to chase Castillo and Jackson, into midfield. Engaging in rough play isn’t exactly foreign to either Union fullback, but against Dallas they did well to make their presence known without stepping over the line and conceding fouls. Doing just enough clutching and grabbing to frustrate their opponent, while matching their pace up the line, Williams and Gaddis deserve a great deal of credit for each single-handedly playing one of the most dangerous wingers in MLS off the pitch without assistance from their midfield partner. That Schellas Hyndman was forced to remove each player from the match before Watson’s red card stands as proof of their defensive quality.

Not Le Toux’s night

Much praise has been heaped on Le Toux for his evolution as a lethal wide player. The work rate that made him a fan favorite in Philadelphia allowed him to drop into midfield defensively, helping his team to win possession. Those midfield forays also served a second purpose, allowing him separation and giving his defender a choice. Should he step forward to press Le Toux, the winger could simply burst past him towards the endline; should he stay home, the Union would have time and space to slowly build their attack.

Against Michel, a holding midfielder who was deputizing at left back, Le Toux regressed to old tendencies, failing to put adequate pressure on the Brazilian. The raking switches of fields from Farfan that so tortured Roy Miller last week were not an option because Le Toux was not in position to receive them. Far from the most technical player, Le Toux has success with the ball in front of him, where he needs minimal touches before launching either a cross or a shot on goal. On Saturday, his desire to play on the final shoulder took away that part of his game.

Player Ratings

Zac MacMath – 2

Once again, when MacMath was called upon to bail out his team, he came up small. His lack of aggression and physicality should be cause for alarm for the Union coaching staff considering that he is no longer a rookie, but a third year professional.

Sheanon Williams – 9

Williams played shut down defense on Fabian Castillo, the foundation for a dominant showing from the right back. He also raced forward to help in attack, notching two assists before clearing a ball off the line in stoppage time.

Amobi Okugo – 7

Shook off a nervy start to turn in a solid performance against Cooper and Perez. Aggressive in his man-marking of the forwards, neither of whom found any joy until the last second scramble. In scoring his third goal of the season, Okugo continues to prove a menace in the opposition box.

Jeff Parke – 6

Parke’s name was rarely called against Dallas, with the veteran centerback playing simply and efficiently out of the back. His mishit header in stoppage time nearly gifted Dallas an equalizer and he can thank Williams for sparing him that indignity.

Ray Gaddis – 3

Gaddis sure can defend one on one, as he showed against Jackson, but it is the other, little mistakes that show just how miscast he is at left back and how far from a finished product he remains. Must raise his hand for errors in both Dallas goals, as well as the one that was called back.

Sebastien Le Toux – 3

Forgot all about the excellent work he has done in recent weeks and played right midfield like an additional striker. Failed to cover himself defensively and lingered too high, making life easy on Michel. Played far too unselfishly, forgoing shots in favor of passes, most of which were poor. Yet he was unable to spot numerous wide open runs in the box and when he did, lacked the accuracy to pick them out.

Brian Carroll – 5

Did his best to hold down the fort, though he and Farfan were completely outnumbered in midfield. Held his ground well though, and as rarely beaten for pace when one of the Dallas speedsters tried his luck through the middle.

Michael Farfan – 3

Asked to do the near impossible, Farfan struggled mightily trying to control the middle of the field with precious little support from his teammates. With so many bodies pushed forward, he found little space to attack and was at his best when he played the simple pass out to wide to Williams or Le Toux.

Danny Cruz – 3

Jair Benitez had clearly studied film on Cruz, and played the Union winger perfectly. Dropping off, Benitez forced Cruz to try to beat him, which he was largely unable to do. The Union man’s early second half cutback to Casey was his only tangible contribution to the match. Otherwise, pretty much a non-factor.

Conor Casey – 5

Struggled to find space in a tightly-packed final third. While he did put himself in excellent positions on a number of occasions, Casey’s inability to fire with his left foot doomed several promising attacks.

Jack McInerney – 5

Unlike Casey who couldn’t find the shot, McInerney couldn’t find the ball. That is not for lack of effort, however, as the Union’s top hitman put himself in excellent position time and again. His teammates, Le Toux in particular, simply did not provide him the service he needed. Had they managed to, McInerney could have bagged at least a brace in his final pre-Gold Cup match.


Antoine Hoppenot – 3

Caught the worst of Chapman’s ire when he failed to earn free kicks for two blatant fouls. Fully deserved his caution though, as he ran out of control into the box.

Aaron Wheeler – 7

Shot out of a cannon when he entered the match, Wheeler picked up where Casey left off, dominating play in the air and streaming into the box. His text book header in the 87th minute should have been the winner.

Chris Albright – 2

Regardless of whether he should have been on the field in the first place, Albright’s only contribution to the match was a near-horror tackle that set up the decisive free kick in the final moments of the match. On another day, that’s a straight red.

Geiger Counter

Allen Chapman – 2

After rightfully dismissing Watson for a dive in the box, Chapman inexplicably got on his soap box and made the final 20+ minutes into a personal statement on physical play and simulation in MLS. Suddenly the players had no idea what was and was not a foul and the game deteriorated into a pushing match as the final whistle neared. Being consistent is key in refereeing, but when he went on his own personal tirade against diving, Chapman was anything but.

Preferred Starting XI for Wednesday’s match at RSL


Konopka; Williams, Okugo, Parke, Gaddis; Farfan, Kleberson, Carroll, Fernandes; Le Toux, Casey


  1. Look on the bright side, out two biggest holes are also exactly where our first two summer signing play!

  2. Southside Johnny says:

    You nailed it. Nice job.

  3. John Ling says:

    Wednesday’s match is against RSL.

  4. Konopka? R u stupid? Also why the fuck should Fernandez play wtf?

  5. 1. McMath is a plus athlete, below average goalkeeper.
    2. Cruz/Gaddis on the same side is brutal. Letoux isn’t a dynamic setup man, he’s got all the assist because we give up on the left side after 8 minutes. Every service comes from the right.
    3. The most important thing we can do is buy a CB. Okugo has to move forward into Brian Carroll’s spot. He’s an obvious threat in the box and also a liability defending forwards on free kicks in our box.
    4. Chris Albright stinks.

    • George H says:

      Regarding #4, you do realize that Albright was trying to make up for Gaddis’s mishit clearance when he committed that foul, right?

  6. I was at the game, and I think you are being a bit too harsh on Gaddis. Asking him to defend a guy 4 inches taller on a corner kick is a mismatch, and somebody should’ve fixed that (Parke? MacMath? Who’s responsible for making those assignments?). He definitely shares some responsibility for the un-goal, but it was Parke’s very poor header that put him in that position. I also saw him (and Okugo) make step-up after step-up to intercept passes, and he also the fine one-on-one defending that you acknowledge.

    And before anybody flames me, I’m not saying that he’s been all that, or that I’m not happy that we just signed another LB.

    • I don’t think anyone is happy with the new LB signing, I think the general consensus is we are resigned to it.

      • We have one left footed player on our team and he plays in the middle of the field. Poorly at that.

    • George H says:

      Don’t know who on the coaching staff coming into the match thought that Gaddis marking Zimmerman on set pieces was a good match-up for the Union, but it was corrected the next time with Williams marking him.

    • Agreed. Gaddis did an admirable job dealing with some very speedy wingers. Garfan would have been eaten alive in a game like that. A 3 is a bit harsh in my book.

      • No the 3 is deserved when you play a major part in 2(+1) goals 3 is where you live.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Forgetting about Gaddis defending on corner kicks, they main reason I would give Gaddis a low score is the bad pass in the middle of the field that led to the Albright foul. Also, he did a good job at winning a throw-in just in the corner during stoppage time but then gave the ball away with a poor throw-in. He has a lot of work to do learning to kill a game.

  7. MikeRSoccer says:

    I am sure this comment will catch a lot of flak, but it has to be said that this team does belong in the top three places in the east. With Daniel off the field and a potential replacement for Gaddis bought, this team is solid across the field (except in goal). The errors that occur are down to simple tactical mistakes by the players, such as Le Toux and Cruz playing too high up the pitch.

    I agree with all of the ratings except for Gaddis. He was the worst player on the field Saturday. In the 95th minute he chose to try and nutmeg a defender to get a pass to the offside Farfan rather than do the smart thing and take the ball to the corner flag. He easily could have done the latter and the game would have ended (especially if we had gotten the throw in or corner). Instead, he went for the risky option, lost the ball and then cleared the long ball that followed directly into the middle where Albright was forced to foul. Gaddis is a liability and has no place on the field. MacMath had a bad game, but Gaddis directly put MacMath in the position to lose the game.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I wish I had read this before I responded to the previous post. It was exactly what I was thinking.

    • Your nuts. It’s so funny how people remember a couple plays and then say “they were the worst on the field.” Gaddis’ shut down the left-side most of the game, without any help from Cruz (Remember when everyone blamed Cruz for Williams’ poor play on right?)
      And I’m sorry…did you say that he put MacMath in a bad position to lose the game? By that, do you mean that Gaddis put that green jersey on MacMath? Because, last time I checked, he’s being payed a great amount of money to make some great saves, let ALONE CATCH THE BALL! C’mon.
      Worst Players of the Game:
      1. MacMath
      2. Farfan (considering if he showed any urgency in posession to pass and move, he’d have killed that game off).
      3. LeToux/Cruz
      4. Gaddis

      Torres should have been brought on in the 80th at the latest to kill that game. But again Hack hates him.

  8. I don’t disagree completely, but the strategy comes from the bench, especially late in the game. The players needed to be told that the game should be possession above all else, and that the run to the corner to eat time is the best play. Gaddis, for all of his faults and complete absence of a left foot, was not the only player that just dumped the ball. This game required time conscious players that would take the ball wide and pass it four hundred times if necessary to keep an opponent who was a man down from getting a touch on the ball; it was clear that nobody on the field was thinking that way except for Hop, on his sole run to the corner flag. Keeping one player, or even two, up high makes sense, but the ball must be played to those players by short, possession passing, not the long ball dumps that were being tried.

    • George H says:

      You’re absolutely right, Tim.

      However, when you don’t place any value on ball possession in your normal mode of play, it makes things much more difficult when you absolutely need to keep the ball and run the other team into the ground. Right now, this group of players just cannot do this, even being a man up.

    • Southside Johnny says:

      Seems to me they have forgotten how to lock down a game this year. This isn’t the first.

  9. George H says:

    Perhaps Konopka is a “Philly tough” GK because a “Philly tough” GK would have punched that ball far away from danger on Sat night.

    • No Philly Tough goalkeepers run straight into an offensive players back and then claim they are fouled after the goal is scored.

      Don’t get me started on Philly tough coaches.

      • Well to be fair, he was fouled.

      • How was that a foul. An offensive play has to have some reasonable right to play the ball. He had his back turned to Macmath, tracking the ball and leapt up to get it. That almost never gets called, ever.

      • George H says:

        What’s interesting is looking at the pics of the match in the other post and noticing the differences in how Fernandez and MacMath are claiming balls in traffic.

        If MacMath led with his knee like Fernandez, he probably would have gotten a different result on that play. It’s a little nuance that makes a difference in how a GK commands his area.

  10. The Duke says:

    I’ve still been waiting for this team to lose a game where I can say “Even though they lost, they should hold their heads high.” I feel like good teams win well but championship teams lose well.

  11. While the ending absolutely sucked (probably the maddest I’ve ever been leaving PPL Park), I am very happy about one thing. Hack went for the win right from the beginning. He threw numbers forward, and even after Dallas equalized at 1-1, still kept pushing for that second goal. Previous incarnations of the Union would have seen us bunker down to try to preserve the 1-1 draw which would have made Perez’s last header a game winner instead of an equalizer. Proud that we went after one of the best teams in MLS. Unfortunately, I doubt we’ll be as gutsy in Utah and it will cost us.

  12. George H says:

    Regarding Chapman’s performance, he committed the mistake that you see with inexperienced officials. Instead of judging each action on its own merits, he was trying to appease both sides in order to keep the peace which just doesn’t work.

    • agreed. instead of making one bad call and deciding to call the rest straight he continued to make bad call after bad call trying to make it equally bad for both teams. This seems to be a consistent MLS issue.

  13. Feel like Gaddis played better than farfan. Feel like farfan and his slow decision making played a bigger part in his lack of connection with letoux. Feel like farfan was the worst overall in the field. All that being said IMO the game was lost by the lack of possession late in the game up a man as well. Every goal can be tied to one piece of bad play or several pieces of bad play and decision making. we could blame the last goal on macmath and his lack of prescence in the box, or albrights foul 40 yards out, lack of man marking in the box, a poor header from parke or we could say why did dallas even have the ball in our half. Why would anyone play the ball into the middle. keep it wide keep passes short and high percentage and work it to the corner. Thats managing a game and where this team loses out. When a game is decided by great play we often win. When a game is decided by a great strategy or game management we lose. we really just got outcoached.

    • Southside Johnny says:

      Yes. Well said.

    • The Black Hand says:

      I agree. Farfan’s match was much worse than Gaddis’. Gaddis did a lot right, over the course of the match.
      Those two points were lost by Zac MacMath. If he punches the ball away, that final whistle blows. He was not the only player to make mistakes but his mistake cost us the win. He is no longer a keeper, with promise.

      • I agree, but we are blessed with a team where most players on it are more than capable of losing a game for us.
        In fact, the list of players in this game who DIDN’T do something to help contribute to this lost can fit on half a hand.

  14. Overall, I agree with the analysis. However, if the Ref had called the game properly everyone’s scores would have been automatically raised by 2 points. While no one (except Williams) had a great game, clearly you let the game’s result against the West Division’s number 2 team affect the players scores.

    BTW – if you go back and watch MacMath’s final play in slow motion you will see that he is indeed fouled. A photo on the PSP site shows the Dallas elbow into his upper chest (

    • listen I played keeper as a pro in my native country I have made a living being a goalkeeper coach for over 20 years on all levels from u10 to the pros and No way did he get fouled. He made the wrong decision and had a brain fart and cost the tem 2 points that all

    • TheBlack Hand says:

      If that was a foul, than it was the softest of fouls. The offensive player has a right to challenge for the ball, even against a goalie who is attempting to reach over him. It is a great photo, that shows that contact happened after MacMath had gotten to the ball. Does not change the fact that MacMath should have punched that ball out of Chester and kept the three points for his club. Inexcusable play from a goalkeeper. He isn’t learning.

      • The worst part is that everyone has known this since about the 2nd or 3rd match. Just place 1 guy on MacMath on set pieces and he is too scared to force his way through. They know. He knows it. Everybody knows it.
        Nobdy changes it. He has no hope

  15. Steve L. says:

    What worries me is at halftime the TV coverage said Hack told them the Union needed to knock the ball around and hold on to it to stop playing into Dalas’ hands. So he identified the problem but either A. the players didn’t listen or B. he saw the problem and didn’t address it. I don’t know which one worries me more.

    • Based on the past year of Hackworth’s coaching, he is obviously full crap when he makes those comments.
      I love when he says, “everyone knows we like a lot of the ball and we like to push the game…”
      Really? We’re all pretty sure you’re the only one who views your style as creative or possesion based, Hack.
      I wish he would just admit it We play straigh forward. I would give him more respect.

      • Steve L. says:

        I would normally agree with you, because normally those comments are made in the post game, but this time it was made to a reporter at half time, which means he at least saw it. So like I said that leaves my brain with 2 options to choose from, neither of which I like. I’m open to other options to change my mind.

  16. I want to see Wheeler start with Casey on Wednesday, with Le Toux, Kleberson and Fernandes behind. Playing the best team in the West on the road on 3 days rest is a difficult task so why not give some new guys a shot? Worst case they lose, best case we finally see the “depth” Hackworth keeps talking about.

    • George H says:

      Only Nowak would make that drastic of a line-up switch.

      • It’s the same as the preferred line-up Eli posted except I have Wheeler in and Farfan out. I don’t EXPECT Hackworth to change anything (except Jack) but I think with the short turnaround and 2 straight road games he should give some new guys some time and rest some of the regulars. Lost points to Western Conference RSL isnt nearly as devastating as dropping them to Houston.


    • Andy Muenz says:

      I’d like to make a more controversial suggestion. How about Wheeler and Hoppenot up top and let Casey come on as a sub. The reason for this is that Houston is the more winnable and more important game (in conference). Right now Casey is one yellow card away from suspension. So playing him against RSL risks getting that card and then having no choice but to have at least one of Wheeler and Hoppenot play (and moving Seba up top). Neither of them has gone more than about 30 minutes yet all season. So why not let them get some running legs under them now and plan to sub them (Casey for whoever needs the sub first) when they get tired. Hopefully Casey can avoid the card and be fresher against Houston.

      • George H says:

        Casey either playing at altitude in Sandy or at the deep fryer in Houston…neither one is enticing.

      • Southside Johnny says:

        Besides, Casey has been awful as a sub. Some guys just don’t do well off the bench late in games and Havkworth always subs (too) late.

      • just cause the ball bounced off the tall guys head into the goal just once doesn’t mean he is ready to start.
        So he’ll be starting at Centerback next week.

      • If I’m not mistaken, Casey misses Wednesday because of yellow card accumulation, so I think chances are pretty darn good we’ll see Wheeler get the start.

      • Andy Muenz says:

        I believe Casey is still a card away from suspension (he had one reduced for good behavior). My thought is the Houston game is in conference (so a bit more important) and against a weaker team, so it might be a good idea to limit the chances of Casey getting a yellow against RSL and being forced to miss Houston.

    • George H says:

      OK, only Nowak, Eli and Brian would make that drastic of a line-up change.

    • We wouldn’t be dynamic enough from the center. You think Cruz and LeToux were flying up the field on Saturday? How about if you have two slow forwards?
      Casey’s touch is the only attacking quality we have in the middle of the pitch right now (wow).
      I say 4-2-3-1 is the way to go. Choose whoever to sit next to Carrol (probably Marfan). Let Cruz and LeToux play high and wide and sit Hoppenot, maybe Fernandes, or Torres (obviously won’t happen).
      In a 4-2-2, would like to see Anding get a run wide. Looked like he could attack with a left foot.

  17. Philly Cheese says:

    Let’s reduce Chapman’s score to ONE, docking him for not knowing how to read his watch. Tough to lose the game in seventh minute of a five minutes of added time.

    • Funny that you should say that. The whole time that I was watching, I was thinking that I had heard of people saying that the ref swallowed his whistle; here, he swallowed his watch.

  18. As pointed out by others, Marfan was easily the worst on the field, followed closely by macmath. Gaddis played well most of the game, but on the goal plays was a bit of a let down. Definitely not disagreeing with a 3 for him. But only mike could have that bad of a game and still receive a 3.
    He was absolutely invisible in the first half and for most of the second half. The only passes he was completing were the same sideways ones Keon gets howled at for, only mike’s were incorrectly weighted. He only had 2 nice passes all game, both to jack, but neither turned into anything. Those two passes do not make up for the lack of possession and a remarkably low passing % despite playing up a man for essentially a third of the game. He also had a few notable turnovers including a head down back-pass to parke or Gaddis that was easily picked off.
    You want possession, good methodical passing, and an advantage in duels? Mike farfan is not the guy you want on the field. If you want a player with the worst case of tunnel vision I’ve ever seen, then mike is for you. I prefer to win when a man up, not have a player take himself out of the game instead of offering his teammates any sort of outlet pass.

  19. You have to question chapman’s decision to add 5 minutes in the first place. Adding 3 minutes would have been about right, accounting for union goal and injuries. The additional delay was caused by an ejected player who deliberately delayed leaving the pitch. So in effect, chapman allowed the offending team an additional time advantage.

    • While I agree with you most folks on here appear to have completely discounted any responsibility of the outcome of the game on the ref. However, if the game finishes closer to the time it actually should have it would have changed the conversation. For example, it erases Gaddis’s errant pass, Albright’s hard foul, and MacMath’s flubbed catch.

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