Player ratings

Analysis & player ratings: Union 1-0 Whitecaps

Photo: Earl Gardner

Another game, another red card.

The Union are certainly living a charmed existence in 2013, and it can no longer be said that referees haven’t given Philadelphia the benefit of a number of calls.

Not that there was any question of whether Jun Marques Davidson would be issued his marching orders after the Whitecaps midfielder buried his head into Keon Daniel’s back. What was surprising was that Daniel did not join Davidson in the locker room after he kicked the midfielder. With the play close to the sideline and the ball trapped between Davidson’s feet, Daniel’s reckless kick was no mere attempt to make a play on the ball. Fortunately for both himself and the Union, Daniel ended up with only a yellow card.

Obviously, Davidson’s reaction was worthy of an ejection. But considering that Daniel’s initial recklessness could easily have been interpreted as passing into the realm of excessive force and endangering the safety of his opponent, he too could have joined Davidson in an early trip to the locker room.

Learn to play with space

Once Baldomero Toledo had dished out his justice, it appeared that it was Vancouver, rather than the visitors, that had the full compliment of players. Gershon Koffie and Nigel Reo-Coker, with the aid of Russell Teibert and Camilo Sanvezzo, somehow managed to outnumber the Union’s five-man midfield. With space opening up all over the field of play and the ability to draw the Whitecaps midfielders away from their comfort zone in the heart of the pitch, the Union declined. Danny Cruz and Sebastien Le Toux remained too far forward, failing to exploit the wide open flanks that Vancouver vacated with Koffie and Reo-Coker bunkering down centrally. While Michael Farfan proved a hard working motor in midfield, Daniel was too slow and deliberate on the ball to bring his wingers into play or deliver the final ball through to Jack McInerney.

Attack the center backs

When the Union managed to get the ball into the final third, they forgot their strengths. Against the inexperienced Johnny Leveron and the towering but not terribly mobile Brad Rusin, McInerney’s running off the ball could have cut the Whitecaps center backs into ribbons. Yet, ball after ball was delicately floated into the area, with the Vancouver defenders greedily picking off each and every one.

With Daniel in the center of the park in the first half, the drive to attack the back four was missing. Getting behind the Vancouver midfield is no easy task, and the Union were too casual in the early going when they did endeavor to find that pocket of space.

As the match wore on and legs grew weary, chances began to emerge. Knighton had to go to full stretch to touch away McInerney’s drive when he dropped into that pocket. Ultimately, the Union’s winner came from Antoine Hoppenot running directly at the center of the Vancouver defense, albeit after his clumsy pass was allowed to run through to Wheeler following an even clumsier attempted block by substitute Carlyle Mitchell.

Player Ratings

Zac MacMath – 7

Made the saves he needed to and kept the clean sheet. MacMath’s confidence is back, and hopefully the young keeper can keep hold of it for some time.

Sheanon Williams – 6

Did well in his defending on Camilo and got forward when he could, launching a handful of both crosses and long throw-ins into the box. Struggled offensively in the second half when Cruz switched flanks with the two lacking the chemistry to connect in the attack.

Amobi Okugo – 7

Save for one near-calamitous bobble at the beginning of the second half, Okugo ran the show out of the back. With Brian Carroll struggling to get play forward, Okugo pressed himself higher and higher and sent probing passes to the forward line. Had a number of vital interventions deep in the defensive third that helped the Union keep a clean sheet.

Jeff Parke – 5

Undone with frequency by Kenny Miller’s guile, Parke played sweeper while Okugo moved forward. With a man advantage and a goal required, the Union need better leadership from Parke to get the back line organized and pushed forward as a unit.

Ray Gaddis – 5

Ran the flanks with athleticism and energy, but struggled against the superior technical abilities of Miller and Teibert. Mistimed his leap against the Scotsman, who nearly buried a back post header. Gaddis remains a solid one-on-one defender, but being a successful fullback in MLS is about so much more than that.

Michael Farfan – 7

The most aggressive, hardest working midfielder, Farfan put in a tireless shift. Kept the ball moving at every opportunity and unlike Daniel and Carroll, tried to both find space and create it for others. His raking passes out wide brought in players from both flanks and helped the Union to attack as a unit. Must still improve in the final third, where his final ball went astray on a couple of occasions.

Brian Carroll – 4

Up a man, it would have been expected that Carroll’s defensive midfield position would become extraneous, yet Vancouver never let up. Carroll was found wanting for pace and position, with Teibert and Camilo racing through his territory unchecked. The Union captain can thank the five players behind him for keeping the clean sheet on this day. He offered little to the attack outside of his typical short passing and a lot of negative balls.

Sebastien Le Toux – 6

Worked his tail off, scorching the earth up and down the right flank, before fading from the match after moving into a forward berth. Le Toux may not be the most efficient player on the ball, but given enough opportunities, he sets the table with some tremendous chances. Unfortunately, with Conor Casey missing the match and both Cruz and Daniel unable to get into the box to support McInerney, all of those chances went unfinished in Vancouver.

Keon Daniel – 3

Once he was spared Toledo’s red card, Daniel should have used his second lease on life to drive his team to victory, thriving amid the boos that rained down on his every touch. He did not. Careless in possession, slow to pull the trigger on his passes and wayward with his service, Daniel looked undeserving of the CAM responsibilities that were bestowed upon him. He was rightfully moved to the wing before being hauled off after his indifferent display.

Danny Cruz – 3

The extra space opened up by the early red card could have made Cruz one of the most dangerous players on the field. Instead, the pacy winger only managed to run at his fullback once and got nowhere with it. Whether on the right or left, Cruz was completely outclassed by Lee Young-Pyo and Jordan Harvey. While his teammates knocked the ball around and looked to find cracks in the Whitecaps defense to exploit, Cruz played no part.

Jack McInerney – 4

Will be haunted for some time by his heavy touch after Daniel charged down Knighton’s clearance. Looked to be of two minds as to whether to go for goal with his first touch or settle the ball. Whatever the thinking, it was a sitter that went begging. Picked himself up and created a few chances, but with the poor service coming from the midfield, he couldn’t find the finish that he needed to get himself back to goalscoring ways.


Fabinho – 3

Sloppy and wasteful, Fabinho spent the majority of his appearance trying to win the ball back after he lost it. Offered nothing to the Union attack.

Antoine Hoppenot – 8

On a night where the Union needed an injection of quality as well as energy, Hoppenot brought both. Creating havoc from his first touch, the speedy striker did well to push play forward and was rewarded when Wheeler served him up a chance on a platter. Once he scored, Hoppenot helped keep the ball, working the corners and recycling play to kill off the match.

Aaron Wheeler – 7

Used to making his impact through physical dominance, Wheeler made his mark on Vancouver with a slick backheel to set up the game’s only goal. Not that he didn’t batter the Whitecaps whenever possible. He did plenty of that for only a 10-minute showing.

Geiger Counter

Baldomero Toledo – 5

Made the call he had to make on Davidson after only 8 minutes but seemed to only realize the potential severity of Daniel’s challenge after the vehement protests of the Whitecaps players. Deserves credit for both of his yellow cards in the box, as he correctly cautioned McInerney for his reckless challenge on Knighton and booked Koffie for his flop on Okugo.

Preferred Lineup for Saturday’s match with Chicago at PPL Park


MacMath; Williams, Okugo, Parke, Gaddis; Le Toux, Farfan, Carroll, Fabinho; Casey, McInerney

Fabinho may not have impressed against Vancouver, but at least he showed the hustle and intent to get on the ball and try things.



  1. I almost hate to do it, but does Hack get credit for the Nikolov signing and Zac’s turnaround? Coincidence or not, it seems like the “you’re a player but what you’re really here for it to be our GK coach” move worked out…

    • Or it could be said that our technical director is also a goalkeeping coach.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      Speaking of Nikolov, has anyone noticed that on the Union website, he’s listed as inactive (along with Pfeffer and Valdes)? Does anyone at PSP have any insight into that?

      • Based on my understanding of MLS salary rules, I think Hackworth never seriously intended for Nikolov to see the field when he signed him unless there was an injury to MacMath, and the reason he was signed as a roster player (rather than as a coach) was that the salary of his new goalkeeping coach would be spread across all the teams in the league rather than paid solely by the Union.

      • Dan Walsh says:

        No. Might be that they just haven’t updated the web site. Hackworth has been clear that he was brought in as a player.

      • Hackworth says a lot of things. I would believe it except for the fact that Nikolov hasn’t even dressed for a single league game…it has been Konopka on the bench ever since Nikolov arrived.

      • We’ll find out tonight. He should see the field vs. Stoke.

  2. Seems like a lot of your ratings tend to favor certain guys and go against certain guys week in and week out. You lose credibility when you do this. I can tell by just looking at your ratings every week which guys you like and which guys you dislike as players regardless of how they play.

    • Ed Farnsworth says:

      Fair enough, Devin, but your comment gains credibility when you use specific examples to illustrate your point. For example, do you think Hoppenot’s 8 is too high, Daniel’s 3 is too low, and so on.

      • Not attacking you just making a statement based on what I have seen. Ray Cruz and Daniel seem to get the brunt of a lot of criticism from these ratings rarely being praised. I would be lying if I said I have seen every game but I find it tough to believe Cruz and Daniel have been poor in every game 22 games in while the team is 3 points off a supporters shield race

      • I always thought Okugo is overrated here but I chalk that up to a difference of opinion.

      • Cruz and Daniel have been poor in almost every game

      • Great One says:

        It could also be that Daniel and Cruz stink and don’t nearly deserve their automatic starts.
        If you do watch every game and go to the games, you’ll find this is a very common sentiment among those who have seen every second this year.
        They both offer certain things to the game, but they also lack very much. I think, if voted on, the majority would not want them to start.

      • Devin:

        I’ve seen every Union game since inception. I’ve really started following this site over the last year. I don’t always agree with the ratings, but in general I think he is fair. Cruz at best, should be brought in in as a second half sub, where tired legs might be exposed by the spazoid of Cruz. His touch is horrible and yes, he does make runs. But he screws up so much in the final 3rd it doesn’t make a difference.

        I’m not a huge Marfan guy and I didn’t think he was that great yesterday either. I wasn’t impressed with Keon yesterday, nor am I usually impressed with him at all. I think most of the fans feel the same way about him.

        Where is Torres….

    • Its obvious he hates ray gaddis…doesnt take into account that he has little to no help defensively from his midfielder and also cannot get forward because of this, which is where he can be dangerous with his pace

      • Andy Muenz says:

        It’s not surprising that Gaddis will get some low scores, given that he is playing out of position. However, I just took a look at the ratings from the Chivas game (the last win before this one) and Gaddis was the highest rated defender with Okugo being the lowest rated. The exact opposite, even though Okugo’s gaffe this week that almost led to a goal was probably a lot less forgiveable than falling on the wet ground like he did then. That game also had Brian Carroll with a 7, tied for second highest ranking, compared with a 4 here. So while some players tend to have higher scores than others, I think that’s because those players are better players and show more consistancy.

        Eli, I think you are as objective as possible in an endevour which is by nature subjective. I look forward to these ratings and comments. Keep up the good work.

      • @Devin Maybe that is because the coach consistently fields players that should not be seeing the field in their current positions or would better serve the team as a sub vs starter.

        While saying he hates Gaddis may be true, but his performances on the left have been sub par and our main weak link that most teams should try to exploit. Very deserving of his ratings. Also when Gaddis gets forward on the left and if he beats the opponent he tends to lose the ball most of the time because he is a RIGHT footed back. Personally I am a fan Gaddis’ and would love to see him play on the right again.

      • Dan Walsh says:

        First, I think most of us at PSP think Ray Gaddis is a quality player and quality guy. Eli, Ed, Greg and I sat directly across from him the entire team dinner and talked with him most of the time. I think he would be in the upper tier of starting right backs in the league. But he’s playing left back. So he remains a talented, hard-working player with a great attitude who is struggling to adapt to the left side. It’s reflected in our ratings. We’re not going to rate him higher because we like him personally.

        re: Daniel and Cruz — Each has gotten good ratings when they have played well. Cruz got a 7 against Seattle, for example. But Daniel has 0 goals and 1 assist in 17 games, and his stats reflect his play. Cruz plays hard, but outside of one great 10-minute span this year, he has 0 goals and 2 assists. His lack of participation in the short passing game is a huge part of why the Union are unable to maintain possession or regularly create goals that aren’t on counterattacks, set pieces or Sheanon Williams throw-ins. There’s a reason Reo-Coker said what he said at halftime Saturday.

      • McMohansky says:

        At the same time our most creative midfielder with the most technical ability has justified his consistently higher rating than his peers by providing…. 1 goal and 1 assist. wow a woowie!

        It is really out of control at this point. The Marfan love is laughable. No longer can we extol his once or twice a game dribbling show-case- it has disappeared. Now we must recognize that he’s twice as valuable than Daniel or Cruz because he has a hard working motor! So many times does he misplace a pass, put his head down and walk back behind the play. Daniel may not be a CAM but neither is Farfan.

        Devin, I agree with you 100% and I have been on this site since the beginning and am friends with or at least friendly with the editors. We just see it differently I guess?

      • Jim Presti says:

        @Dan Daniel leads most of the midfield in possession, is a contender at the top for defensive play. True, he has had some rough patches, but most of our central MF has been shaky all season.
        That said, Carroll and Farfan have turned it up the last 5-6 games, statistically speaking.

      • Dan Walsh says:

        I’ve said here many times that Daniel is excellent at maintaining possession. What he’s not good at is attacking. If he leads in possession, it’s because he doesn’t take any chances with his passes. They all go backwards or sideways. He doesn’t attack. He doesn’t create. He doesn’t lead to enough goals.

    • Also, as a counter example, it was only a few weeks ago MacMath as getting 4s, 5s. His play has increased, as has his score.
      Also, Parke would consistently get 5s, 6s for this steady veteran presence. His play has decreased, as has his score.
      So I can’t really figure out who you are talking about.

    • McMohansky says:

      Welcome to PSP Devin! Everyone has an opinion, and is welcome to share it. Eli’s ratings consistently reflect his opinions of players, and the comments reflect others’. Try to take it with a grain of salt. It is less a game by game rating than it is a moving index of where players stand in the esteemed minds of the PSP community.

    • JediLos117 says:

      Devin, your point is valid and has been historically the norm around the PSP parts. It’s generally driven by mob mentality also. Keep in mind that this is a fanboy site with writers who are no more experts of the game of soccer than you and I are…
      and of course the writers here have their favorite players and thoughts on who should an shouldnt start (this is a fanboy site)…which is always reflected in the ratings.
      Vancouver is a good squad maybe a “B+ to A” squad. The Union maybe a “C to C+” team. Going down a man the Caps maybe become a “B-” team…The Union up a man are still the same “C to C+” team. Great result considering the Caps down a man thought they could still beat us.

  3. @BS the coach and group of coaches that has seen these players week in and week out and continue to start them are doing it for a reason. The team is in a very good spot right now from a point stand point yet the coach is playing the wrong players?

    • Yes. He is. Daniel and Cruz do nothing creatively. Both are nice options off the bench, but imo (and many others?) not as a starter. While this was a rough stretch – we have been very lucky with things in games. NY, RSL and FC Dallas had important players missing (as did Columbus before that). How many times have we been up a man in these games (which is a huge help). Just looking at the league position doesn’t tell the whole story. We are just lucky to be in a position where if we improve, we are in great shape.

      • Agreed, I think Cruz should be a 2nd half sub like Hop.

        I would much rather see a Torres in the game who actually has great touch in the final 3rd and can create chances.

      • If Cruz is a second half sub we still have the same problem we always had… A bunch of middling runners coming off the bench to run at the goal but no creative spark..

  4. Sean Doyle says:

    “Fortunately for both himself and the Union, Daniel ended up with only a yellow card.”

    Is it bad of me to say I was hoping Keon would have been tossed too. The Union offense stagnates when he is on the pitch. It must be something much more technical than I can see, but I just do not get why Coach Hack rates Daniel. He’s been just awful in a Union kit this season.


    • Set-piece ability? The left-footed corner kicks? I’m not sure either, so I’m grasping at straws. As an added bonus, I thought Daniel was getting rattled at being The Guy Everyone Boos.

      • Early in the year there was Goofus Keon and Gallant Keon. It is hard to remember now but Gallant Keon would occasionally thread the nice ball, make a good free kick or take a shot from distance.
        My best guess is that Gallant Keon is currently being scavenged by wild dogs by the roadside somewhere in the Pine Barrens.

    • Perhaps Hack was hoping that Keon’s visa problems would surface again and he wouldn’t be able to get back into the US from Vancouver?

    • It’s because of his impressive stats: 1 assist in 17 games 🙂

      • And as you say that, I remember a comment from Hackworth back in about May, about Daniel’s lack of production. He said he wasn’t worried about it that at point, but if there was still no production in August changes would be made. Well, the next game is in August …

  5. Actually his ratings are on point. Yes, Keon Daniel has absolutely sucked in every game he’s played – yet Hack wasted no time putting him back into the starting 11 once he got back from Gold Cup duty. WTF has happened to Kleberson?

    I wish someone would’ve asked him at the summit to explain his love of our lazy dred-locked MF.

    • In all fairness for a tea that dicked around doing nothing while a man up for 60+ minutes I think almost all the ratings are high.

      • Great One says:

        I agree, a lot of the ratings are a tick too high considering how lousy we played. At least we got the win.

  6. FWIW, I’m pretty sure Daniel got his caution after Toledo talked with the fourth official, not because the Vancouver players were complaining.

  7. Not much to add here other than to advocate a higher number for Farfan. I understand the reasoning for giving him a 7 as for an attacking player, you need to either set up or score a goal in order to get an 8 or above.

    However, knowing the Union’s limitations in midfield and the fact that Farfan’s partners in the middle (Carroll and Daniel) struggled so much on Sat, it makes Farfan’s performance that much more impressive. I feel that his ability to retain possession under pressure and distribute so effectively (completed 87% of his passes) really helped tire out Koffie and Reo-Coker and this showed later in the match.

  8. The thrill of victory, and the agony of reading about it the next day. Oh well. I would have thought more of Keon’s performance if only he could have let loose with a few shots when he had opportunities – he seems afraid to shoot the ball. I know Fabinho had trouble picking up the tempo of the match, but I think the guy deserves a few starts nonetheless. He is a quality player. I can’t help thinking that the Fabinho-for-Cruz substitution is a like a psych-out that Coach plays on the opposition. Once they get used to all-hustle-no-touch Cruz, we get them off their game by inserting an actual footballer. Too bad it doesn’t seem to work better.

  9. Have to completely disagree with Jack’s yellow card. The ball is there to be won, there was nothing dangerous with what Jack did, and it was a 50/50 ball. If you give YCs for that, then you are going to get to teh point where all a keeper has to do is shout “I got it” and everyone has to stand down. No way was that a YC worthy foul. (although fair enough giving a foul for protection)

    • I think if McInerney jumped straight up and Knighton was moving into him, there wouldn’t have been a card. That’s what I thought when it happened. Since I’ve gone back and looked at the replay, McInerney was moving toward the ball just as much as Knighton was. In that case, I think it’s comparable to two players sliding for a ball and one player catching the other’s ankle after the ball is already poked away. Believe me, I don’t think Jack even knew Knighton was coming for it, but moving forward and leading with your head can definitely be considered reckless if the result is anything like what happened here.

    • I also disagree with the card. If mac caught him with an elbow/shoulder fine but it was with his head. last time I checked goalies don’t have softer heads than strikers so its a fair challenge. Protect goalies on corners/set plays, sliding challenges but on a 50/50 head to head collision. thats just a different set of rules entirely.

  10. Well, I’m back to eat some of my words. Back on the preview article on Friday, I made the argument that we should have gone with a 4-5-1 because I thought Casey’s chemistry and intelligence could not simply be replaced by starting Wheeler. Well, the 4-5-1 sucked and Wheeler set up the winner with a backheel pass that no one saw coming, and now I can’t help but think what we might have done with Wheeler in there from the start.

    I’d still like to maintain that maybe the 4-5-1 could have worked if Hack played the midfielder I suggested, but at this point I think it’s safe to say that Roger will never see more than 10 more minutes on the field in a Union jersey. Aside from the 3-0 win over Columbus, I just don’t see what Daniel has done to deserve a starting spot, much less hold down the center of the field. Cruz can’t play CM, Marfan is doing his best there with little offensive support, Fernandes is too inexperienced, and unless Kleberson gets fully healthy soon, I might start up a collection to bring Gabriel Gomez back.

  11. Personally I felt like the red and yellow were appropriate on the keon exchange. Was his kick reckless yes but he didn’t really connect with much or with much force. Though you can’t headbutt a player in front of the ref. for that more than the act davidson had to be sent off. If a ref allows a solitary act of dead ball violence within 1 yard of him and lets it go without a red he shows that he does not mind players disrespecting him and he will chase respect the rest of the game.
    We certainly have shown a nack for infuriating opposing players.
    I feel like our players play like the national team without klinsman. they plod along and eventually figure out a way. Its like hack is suspended every game. maybe we would play better if he was.

  12. Great One says:


  13. Great One says:

    I think the biggest things that have come out of the last few games on the positive side are how well Marfan and Zac are playing lately, and the major improvements they’ve made. Jack/Casey had looked great, the defense has been mostly solid for the most part lately (minus their occasional gaffes). With Marfan and Aac stepping up we could really be dangerous.
    This is where I really hope Hack’s decisions don’t come back to haunt us this year. We’re just never going to win any big spots with Keon and Cruz out there. I would’ve liked to see Soumare stay and Roger play but those are different stories.

  14. The Union are 1-7-7 all time in August. The only win came on the road at New England in 2010. We’re 0-3-5 at home, and 1-4-2 on the road. When we made the playoffs in 2011 we had 3 straight draws and a loss (Away, Home, Home, Away). Clearly the month of August has not been kind to the Union, so this month will show us what this team is really made of. They’re in the Supporter’s Shield race, let alone the chance to win the Eastern Conference (and host both 2nd legs), and August will go a long way in deciding where they finish. 5 games, all against Eastern Conference opponents, 3 at home. It’s go time.

  15. The reason why Keon keeps getting starts is the same reason that Hack loves BC. Clearly what Hack wants is a strong defensive midfield at the cost of a poorer attacking midfield. That works when we have Casey up front to hold up long balls delivered by the back line or flanks. Keon and Carrol are very efficient with their touches in the defensive third. They are SAFE players – rarely making poor decisions with the ball. As much as we all love Torres, he is a defensive liability. Just look at Keon’s play for T&T (way more creative and aggressive) and you see that what he does for the Union is partly due to his skill set, but even more due to following the manager’s directions. It is what we are, and at this point, more than half-way through the season and just three points off the support’s shield race, we need to embrace our game and our players. I’m fine with the moaning and groaning here (in fact, we all love it), but at PPL, we need to be way more supportive of our young players who feed off the energy of the crowd. Part of the reason why we haven’t been that good at home this year is because the crowd has been so negative. So vent all your negativity here at PSP, then bring your A-game as a supporter to PPL.

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