Player ratings

Player ratings & analysis: Philadelphia Union 0-1 Houston Dynamo

Photo: Paul Rudderow

With the Union only scoring once in the last five matches and falling out of a playoff spot for the first time in months, things are getting desperate at PPL Park.

On the disallowed goal

Did Tally Hall misjudge the flight of the ball? Absolutely.

But the way the call has been explained, does that matter?

Amobi Okugo was offside and did interfere with the play. Whether or not Okugo actually made contact with Hall is also irrelevant, as the keeper had to assume that Okugo was part of the live play and in position to get his head to the ball. The exact flight of the ball becomes irrelevant if Okugo is offside when the ball is kicked. Is some interpretation possible on the play? Possibly. But reading referee Mark Kadlecik’s comments after the match, I’d say the call is correct.

The single worst part about the goal being waved off was the toll it seemed to take on the Union’s spirits. They limped into halftime following the call, were scored on early in the second half, and then failed to muster the effort the match called for as the game wore on, not recording a shot on goal until Okugo’s last second header in stoppage time.

That is not “Philly tough.”

On the lineup

After saying spots were up for grabs in the starting XI during his midweek press conference, the only personnel change John Hackworth made was bringing in Amobi Okugo for Jack McInerney.

After another poor performance from the midfield last weekend in San Jose, the changes made to liven it up were moving a defender out to the wing and a struggling winger up to the forward line. It’s getting to the point where Union fans would like to see the tape proving Kleberson, Roger Torres, Don Anding, and Matt Kassel aren’t performing in practice.

What else can we say that hasn’t already been said about player complacency and the need for more creativity within the squad?

On the game plan

The Union fired in 29 crosses while fielding only one target forward against one of the bigger sides in MLS. Meanwhile their biggest striker, Aaron Wheeler, not only didn’t start, but he didn’t even make it off the bench. It would be hard to argue with Hackworth if he thinks the midfield is not being creative enough and so wants to go direct from the wings. But why not choose the personnel to best implement that game plan?

Player Ratings

Zac MacMath – 7

Not a lot of work for the Union No. 1. Didn’t have a chance on the Houston goal. Made a fantastic save (his only save of the game) late in the match to give Philadelphia an opportunity to find an equalizer.

Sheanon Williams – 6.5 

A decent effort for Williams, who returned to the right side of the defense. He swung 8 crosses into the Houston box, with 3 reaching Union players. He also completed 52 passes, the most of anyone on the team. All the while, Dynamo talisman Brad Davis remained mostly in check.

Amobi Okugo – 7

Forgetting for a moment the disallowed goal, Okugo and his partner Jeff Parke did well to cut down passing lanes and limit passes into Houston’s strike force of Will Bruin and Cam Weaver.

Jeff Parke – 7

Clean, technically sound, well positioned. Parke did his part for the Union.

Ray Gaddis – 6

Less active going forward than Sheanon Williams, Gaddis was solid on defense, keeping Jason Johnson completely in his pocket for the whole match. Moved back to his less favored left side, Gaddis wasn’t able to provide a single cross in the match.

Keon Daniel – 4

So unlucky that his free kick was disallowed, the midfielder seems like maybe he needs a little luck to buoy the remainder of his season. He did finally manage to push a bit higher than Brian Carroll in the midfield but still failed to create much in the way of chances and passed off a golden open play opportunity to strike on goal.

Brian Carroll – 5

Along with Okugo and Parke, handled his defensive responsibilities very well. But if the midfield is going to continue to struggle to create in the final third, Hackworth has to consider replacing the holding player with someone with more vision.

Danny Cruz – 3.5

The wide midfielder only attempted 19 passes (completing 13) in the entire match. You’d like to give a wide player the benefit of the doubt and say he’s out there to get crosses in and take on his man, but Cruz only had one cross in the match. It was unsuccessful.

Fabinho – 5

The left-footed Brazilian was moved out to left midfield to deliver crosses. He was able to do that, firing in 11 crosses, with 3 finding Union players. But he also had a startling 20 unsuccessful passes, roughly half of all of his attempts.

Sebastien Le Toux – 4

Poor game for the forward-turned-winger-turned forward again. Most of the Union’s service was aimed for Conor Casey. With the midfield struggling to find much creativity, most of Le Toux’s runs in behind the Houston backline were fruitless. What has happened to his set piece service?

Conor Casey – 5

Was the recipient of just about every cross into the Houston box. With  Fabinho and Williams doing well to pick out the Union big man, Casey failed direct any of his headers on goal.


Jack McInerney – 4

Remember that shot he dragged wide of the far post not too long after coming on? That about sums up where Jack is right now. He’s still working hard, still tracking back to get the ball. But he’s fighting himself too, losing easy dribbles, failing to find the target, and continuing to be visibly frustrated.

Michael Farfan – 4

Really seems a shell of his 2012 self. Failed to make much of an impact after replacing Keon Daniel in the central midfield. Gone are his confident dribbles and clever passes and in their place are uncertainty and anonymity.

Antoine Hoppenot – 3

Hoppenot replaced Ray Gaddis with ten minutes remaining. A somewhat shocking decision as it seemed that the Union’s only way forward was throwing crosses into the box. Hoppenot’s inclusion (out of position as a left winger) meant 6-4 striker Aaron Wheeler would not see the pitch.

Geiger Counter

Mark Kadlecik – 6

Go nuts arguing the disallowed goal. If Okugo is offiside when the ball is played and he’s even near to being involved with the play, it’s the right call. Still, Kadlecik could have addressed some persistent fouling and time-wasting from the Dynamo.


  1. It’s really just so disappointing that we are in the middle of a race to the finish and we all have to just concede a poor lineup, poor play, and poor substitutions. I feel like it saps all the energy out of me.
    Unless the guys on the bench have one leg and are blind, how could they possibly be worse than what is out there now?
    If Hackworth is any kind of manager he would cause a major shakeup to the lineup and see what happens

  2. Have you all seen the tweets from someone saying that Hackworths “6 spots” quote wasn’t serious and he was answering facetiously?
    Whether or not thats right, what infuriates me is that Hackworth would have the gall to do something like that when EVERYONE WITH A EYE FOR THE SPORT – NATIONAL BROADCASTERS AND ALL – CAN SEE HIS LINEUPS HAVE HOLES AND NEEDS TO CHANGE.
    The fact this smug a-hole can smile while he is driving his time into the ground is upsetting.

  3. There is no such thing as a “strike force of Will Bruin and Cam Weaver.”

    This was another crap team that the Union let off the hook. A draw would have been a poor result but a loss is unfathomable.

    Great point about Hack’s poor roster moves and lack of Wheeler on the pitch.

  4. John Hackworth has silenced his critics- criticizing him has gotten so boring at this point that I can barely muster the drive to do it. The problems remain game in and game out and he is either too stubborn to change the lineup or we somehow have populated half of our roster with unplayable players.

    • Hell is being an unused and unconsidered Union substitute being forced to watch this uncreative mess & not be given a chance to prove yourself. Hack’s monotonous dedication to a underperforming midfield line-up is going to make it very difficult to recruit players in the future as no one will feel they have a legitimate chance to crack the line-up. Sure Klieberson’s situation will spell caution to any quality player coming in and DP’s will not consider this cheap team as a possibility (if Union actually were to consider a DP recruit).

  5. OneManWolfpack says:

    For all the good Hack did in bringing stability to this team after the idiot was fired last year… he has completely spent all of his capital. He flat out can not manage a game, a team, a lineup.
    Cruz should not start. LeToux should be on the right. Farfan was getting praise last year from a lot of people in MLS and was thought to be the future CAM of this team. Now he rarely starts. You have Torres and Kleberson who sit on the bench. I just don’t understand.
    “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein

    • Great question: What the hell happened to Michael Farfan?

      He was considered our most skillful player, and now he and Don Anding are folding towels.

      Bad practice habits? Fighting with Hackworth?

      He was our blue chip prospect, and now what is he?

  6. Eli, I think you are being a little generous here. I weighted the ratings based on time played and came up with a 5.44 average. That means the team was above average after a game they lost at home to a team that was right next to them in the standings.

    A few of the players I would drop would be Okugo (has to be held accountable for being offsides on a free kick), Carroll (really didn’t do much), whoever committed the foul that led to the goal (I haven’t watched the replay yet and don’t remember from live, but that is the worst spot to foul a team with Brad Davis on it), and the rest of the defense (not as much as Okugo) because Houston should have had another goal when the hit the post and then shot wide.

    I would actually raise Keon’s score. He gets credit for the free kick “goal” (although his next on was awful). But he also had one of his better games actaully pushing forward occasionally in the first half.

    • I kind of agree with you here but I think the issue with this game (and many past games) isn’t so much poor individual performances it is more the overall tactics employed. You can get eleven guys out there giving above average performances but have the overall game go poorly if what each player is doing doesn’t mesh well as a team performance to produce goals. This isn’t to defend anyone in particular as this felt like maybe the most disappointing and demoralizing defeat to me this year.

    • Mike Servedio says:

      We gave Eli the week off, but you should still feel free to give him crap.
      If you want to deduct a point from Amobi’s rating for being offside, I won’t argue too much. You’re right, you shouldn’t be offside on a free kick. But I’d also give him back that same point for looking like one of the few players on the field that actually cares about the result.
      If you want to blame someone for the shot by Weaver that hit the bar, it’s Danny Cruz. He was dispossessed 40 yards from his own goal trying to beat his man. He then failed to track back – and Weaver just missed again with an open shot while Cruz was standing with his hands on his hips 5 yards away.
      Sheanon WIlliams committed the foul that led to the goal. I don’t recall it and it isn’t in the highlights.

    • Keon had a better game… By his standards. His usual slop is worthy of a 2, so a 4 is fair, he definitely was still not an average CAM. The fact that he actually went in front of the CDM a few times is not really praise.
      Also, that goal really was a terribly hit ball in, 9.9 times out of 10 the goalie catches it bc it was right at him.

  7. Why should Keon get credit for the “goal”? there was no way he meant it, and it was actually a terrible cross that should have been easy for the keeper.

    as for the earlier ““Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” – Albert Einstein” – exactly what i was thinking. I take it Hackworth is more into Robert the Bruce’s philosophy of if at first you don’t succeed, try try again.

  8. very depressing. I pay for MLS Direct Kick, I have Direct TV, just so I can get Direct Kick.

    I live in Houston and I live for these games each week. Only to be let down again and again.

    What would it hurt to actually give Torres a start? Maybe he has something in his contract that says if he plays (X) many of games, they Union have to pay him more. (Cheap bastards). They are really pissing me off these days.

    • I’ve thought the same thing about Torres and the Union’s reluctance to play him. Perhaps there’s some additional fee that the Union would owe America de Cali once Roger makes a certain amount of appearances.

    • Does anyone know the answer to this? PSP guys? I really think there is something in the contract for both him and Torres to receive more money. There is literally no other explanation that the 2 of them never see the field.

  9. As far as the disallowed goal goes- I don’t know if anyone here watches Simon Borg’s weekly Instant Replay thing on the MLS website but he talked about Keon’s non-goal this week. In it he said that PRO has come out saying it was a bad call.

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