Player ratings

Best and worst performances: Union 0-2 Stoke

Photo: Paul Rudderow

Since neither the Union nor Stoke City used Tuesday’s friendly as anything more than a training exercise, it is unnecessary to belabor things with tactical analysis. Instead, with so many players having individual opportunities to prove their quality or reinforce their starting credentials, we take a look at the players who boosted their claims for more playing time and those who failed to impress.

Stock Rising

1. Michael Farfan

Playing alongside Brian Carroll in a box-to-box role, Farfan has looked far more comfortable of late and is slowly turning around what had begun as a dismal 2013 campaign. Against Stoke, he was the primary offensive catalyst, dropping deep to receive the ball and working hard to make himself available to teammates. Sitting deeper in midfield has also allowed him to clog up passing lanes, and he was responsible for a number of pass interceptions that had Stoke frustrated for the final 45 minutes Tuesday.

2. Antoine Hoppenot

Left to his own devices against the first Stoke center back pairing, Hoppenot made the most of the paltry service he received. A constant nuisance with the ball at his feet, he won 4 fouls and 3 corner kicks, though he was unable to get any of his shots through the sea of legs in front of him.

3. Sheanon Williams

Not only has his long throw-in become one of the Union’s primary offensive weapons, but his partnership with Sebastien Le Toux has allowed Williams to rediscover the form that had some considering him an elite MLS fullback. He was unfazed by Stoke’s physicality and got stuck in to his defensive responsibilities. When he broke forward, he found plenty of spaces and was one of Farfan’s favored targets, frequently collecting Farfan’s passes up the flank.

4. Amobi Okugo

Dealt extremely well with the gangly figure of Peter Crouch, never losing his cool as he nipped the ball off the England striker with regularity. Kept his head on the ball, even when under heavy pressure and worked his way forward into midfield to help distribute. Despite Stoke’s famed size, Okugo twice got his head to Williams’ long throws, outleaping players who had 4-7 inches on him.

5. Ray Gaddis

Ray Gaddis prides himself on his one-on-one defending. There may be other elements of his job at left back that he is still adjusting to, but when it comes to straight man-on-man defending, Gaddis has it down. Just ask Kenwyne Jones about what it was like to try and run past Gaddis, though Jones may be too embarrassed to discuss it after the Union defender planted him into the turf and casually took the ball back up field, despite giving away 5 inches and about 35 pounds.

Stock Falling

1. Fabinho

Even with inefficient passing numbers in his first appearances for the Union, Fabinho brought energy and helped the Union create chances in his brief cameos. The question remained: Could he defend? If his performance against Stoke is any indication, the emphatic answer to that question is no. Fabinho not only lost Michael Kightly and Brek Shea for Stoke’s goals but also struggled mightily with the ball at his feet, nearly gifting Stoke a third goal when he tripped on the ball and gave up a counterattack. One half is not a lot to go on, but the name Porfirio Lopez certainly came to mind. One thing is certain: Ray Gaddis’ job is secure.

2. Matt Kassel

At least he made international news, right? Kassel was partially at fault on both Stoke goals as the visitors shined a bright light on how ill-suited he is to the fullback slot he played on Tuesday. Then he injured Brek Shea with a violent, poorly timed sliding challenge that should have earned him an ejection.With the Union’s midfield finally healthy and available, Kassel may not see the field for a while.

3. Leo Fernandes

Lacked both the physical and mental speed to keep up with the match and Stoke had no trouble dispossessing him or picking off his passes. Fernandes continues to take too many touches and is not a threat to beat his man off the dribble. Despite being badly outplayed the entire first half, he still had the audacity to unsuccessfully try a backheeled flick in the 41st minute, which killed a promising attack and prompted a lot of frustrated head-shaking.

4. Kleberson

While it was his first appearance in quite some time, Kleberson simply did not show up Tuesday. Entering the match, he knew that he would only be playing 45 minutes, yet could still be seen jogging around the field on a number of occasions. The most obvious and embarrassing example came late in the first half when Roger Torres drove three-on-two at the Stoke defense. When Torres played Kleberson into the box, the Brazilian midfielder pulled up, disinterested in sprinting onto the chance.

5. Don Anding

After a couple of brief, encouraging performances, Anding looked afraid and intimidated against Ryan Shotton. Even when he managed to take the ball cleanly, Anding panicked with his final ball, overhitting simple passes and wildly smashing a near-post, half-chance over the bar. Hopefully, it is just a minor setback for a player who looked to have the pace and guile to add a dimension to the Union’s attack.


  1. I thought it would be terrific to see Roger Torres, Kleberson and Fabinho on the pitch at the same time, even if it was just a friendly.

    It was not terrific.

  2. Kassel’s tackle was the kind that gets you thrown out of a rec league, and the kind that represents the whole league poorly. Shameful.

  3. I’m glad you wrote this; I was curious about individual performances but not curious enough to actually watch the game

  4. Curious to see what people thought of Torres in the match. Besides hoppenot he looked like one of the few bright spots in the first half.

    • Andy Muenz says:

      I wasn’t really impressed with Roger. He had a free kick that went into the knees of the wall. I didn’t count, but it seemed like he gave the ball away more times than he successfully completed forward passes.

    • It was hard to judge Torres in that makeshift lineup, but I thought he did alright.

      What I would have loved to see is Torres stay on in the 2nd half in Keon’s role. Seeing him with Farfan in the box-to-box role and Carroll holding would have been fun, but I’ve been around long enough to know that would never have happened.

  5. I thought Chris Konopka had a nice match as well.

  6. Andy Muenz says:

    I thought Gaddis should have been number 1 on the list of people who’s stock is rising. He wasn’t letting anyone beat him.

  7. Just FYI, Eli, regarding Sheanon Williams, its “unfazed”, not “unphased”.

  8. Wasn’t in attendance, nor did I watch the stream, but how’d Nikolov fare, given that he was in net for both goals?
    Oh, and Eli, under Kassel’s write-up, it’s “… shone a bright light …” 😉

    • It was a tough spot to put Nikolov in. He made one very nice save, but was really helpless on the two goals. Not sure if it was rust, old age or an injury that he picked up, but he was definitely moving stiffly out there.

  9. I thought Roger played well considering the dreck he was out there with. Wow really disappointed with Kleberson, I guess he checked out of this season a little earlier than we all thought. At least Fabinho gave an effort (although also stunk).
    One thing is for certain, Keon and Cruz underwhelmed again. Which at least have to give Roger a shot right? They were out there with real players at least.

  10. The Chopper says:

    I think it is becoming apparent that Kleberson is really not interested in playing anymore. He was not playing for his Brazailian side at the time of his transfer and they were as eager to be rid of him as Hackworth was eager to be rid of Freddy Adu.

    While he has had one stretch of play in one game where he looked inspired, most of his field time prior to injury was listless.

    If you read between the lines of Hackworth’s comments about his being disappointed in the progression of Klebberson’s injury you get the sense he might have felt that he was not working hard enough to get back to fit faster.

    The guy certainly has a tool box that no one else on the Union has, but if he doesn’t want to do the work, there isn’t a whole lot you can do.

    • Philly Cheese says:

      Kleberson shows flashes of excellence, but does not seem willing to be a part of physical play……sort of reminds me of Freddy Adu. Injuries do heal slower with age…..but I think he wants to go home…..soon.

  11. Richie the Limey says:

    Finally people are seeing Fernandes for what he is and not what they wish him to be. It is about time everyone caught up.
    Roger looked a little disinterested at times, and it was a tough spot to be in, for sure. Apart from Hoppenot nobody else on the Union wanted to get forward in that first half so he didn’t really have any willing runners to pass to. Hard to imagine feeling too motivated when your coach said at a public meeting that was broadcast on the radio that you are not as good as others who have been playing (and those others are Fernandes, Cruz, and Daniel).

    • i’m not sure anyone ever rated fernandes highly; at most people hoped he might be good

    • +1 You really have to be incredibly lucky to find a gem from Stonybrook. Sadly, this is another example of the organization doing a disservice to a young player and throwing him in the deep end unprepared. He should be in Ocean City, not Chester, which isn’t that bad when you say it aloud.

  12. Alex Trent says:

    Shame on you supposedly representing the Union to buy into the hype regarding Kassel. First of all, he’s a midfielder not a right back and the terrible sensationalism about the tackle that thank God is only a sprain was absolutely ridiculous. The only true professionals in this whole situation were Kassel and Shea. It’s nice to see players act in good sportsmanship. Kassel with his apology and Shea with his response.

    • Eli Pearlman-Storch says:

      Not sure your complaint. The first line was tongue in cheek. And I’m not sure how you can argue that it was a bad tackle, certainly well out of bounds for a friendly. As for Kassel’s play, he was the second worst player on the field, irrespective of the tackle, thus he comes in number 2 on this list.

    • PSP doesn’t represent the Union. We call it like we see it. Just to be clear.

      Beyond your first sentence, I agree with what you wrote, Alex. That said, I also agree with what Eli wrote.

  13. Thought Roger played well and that Keon was absolutely useless. I’ve been defending Keon up until today. Not only do I think that our starters dominated Stoke in the 2nd half, but they virtually did it ten v. eleven. Keon was useless and left Casey stranded and frustrated. I firmly belive that if Jack were in his place and not at the All Star game we would have netted 2 or three in the second half. Le Toux and Cruz (along with Sheanon and Ray) were giving Stoke fits with there pace up the lines while the backline was steadfast against proven premeir league strikers in Crouch and Jones. As was already noted Farfan was superb in his box to box role. That left but one area wanting. If keon wanted to play deeper then he could have helped to facilitate movemnt of the ball through the center of the park. If he played higher up with Casey then someone else wou;d have been in the box to battle for all of those crosses. Somehow he managed to do neither or much of anything else for the matter. He floated around aimlessy and when he did get the ball he gave it right back to Stoke. Do you not grade him as stock falling because Hack will play him anytime one of his first choice XI (our 2nd half starters plus Jack) can’t go or because my evaluation is misguided?

    As far as Roger goes I think he was hurt just as badly by the cast he was playing with as Hoppenot was. He flew around the pitch with full out effort and challenged players twice his size. He played a few of the best balls in the first half and had great ideas and intent with a few others. Do not rate his stock as rising because we all know Hack won’t give him a real shot or because my thoughts are shoddy?

    As far as Anding goes I chalk it up to nerves and playing with the 2nd team. I would already have him be The go to 2nd half sub for Cruz rather than Fabinho.

    • That said I agree with most of your evaluations, minus Anding maybe. What this game really showed us is that we really lack depth in certain areas not really up top where Hoppenot and Wheeler are proving their capabilities but what if one of our first choice back four gets hurt? The only problem in my eyes with our midfield depth is that Torres at CM and Anding at LM/LW are not our first choice subs off the bench.

    • what you say jibes with what i think inside of my guthouse so i both hope and assume that its true

    • Not to speak for Eli, but there’s only so many times PSP can write that Keon should be sitting and Torres should be playing. PSP is a volunteer gig, and I can assure you, it is not fun writing the same thing over and over and over again.

      • Agree completely. I was just wondering. I love the work that you guys put in. That was my first Keon rant after trying to stick up for him for years.

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