Player of the Week

Player of the Week: Cristian Maidana

Photo: Courtesy of Philadelphia Union

It may be difficult, in thinking about Saturday’s draw with Portland, to not focus on the final minute of play, when so much good work was undone. But to do so would be grossly unfair to the many very good individual performances that littered the Union team sheet.

The new men of the midfield were especially good, showing a different level of skill, drive, and incision than has ever been seen in Union colors. While Maurice Edu and Vincent Nogueira were both excellent on the day, it was Cristian “Chaco” Maidana, the Union’s new No. 10, that really shone brightest.

A left-footed wing player by trade, Maidana showed how comfortable he is playing in any of the attacking midfield spots and appeared on both flanks and in the center as the game progressed. It was from the middle where he made his first major impact on the game. Receiving an Edu cutback at the top of the Portland box, Maidana made a hard cut to turn past his defender and bring the ball onto his left foot, then rifled a shot toward Donovan Rickett’s goal, only to be denied by an excellent save from the big goalkeeper.

In the second half, it would be another Maidana shot that led to the Union goal. This time cutting in from the right, Maidana left the Portland defender completely bamboozled, and laced a shot to toward the bottom corner. Ricketts saved that, too, but on the resulting corner, Maidana’s pinpoint delivery found Edu’s head, which sent the ball to Jack McInerney’s head and the back of the net.

Maidana brings with him a lot of tools: dribbling, passing, accurate and powerful shooting, creativity, and consistently good dead ball delivery. The Union have had some of these attributes in its midfielders in the past, but almost never all in the same person. With Edu and Nogueira backing him up, and McInerney making runs up top, the Union looked more consistently dangerous on Saturday than perhaps they ever have in their short history.

And that was just Game 1. Imagine how good they might look by Game 34.

Maidana’s performance on Saturday laid down a marker for what this team is capable of, offensively. That’s why he’s PSP’s Player of the Week. But if he can keep this up, it won’t be the last time he wins our award, and Union fans will be singing his name loud and long.

6 Comments

  1. Listened to CounterAttack yesterday on Sirius and JP was also really hot on Maidana. He said it reminded him of some other players who had come into the league relatively unknown and became superstars…; my hats off to the Union scout who found him!

  2. OneManWolfpack says:

    Pretty nice to find players who aren’t exclusively connected to our head coach with money. Agreed that it was well done, whoever found him.

    • Hackworth and Ansaldi did, if I recall correctly. Hackworth had been in Ecuador or Argentina — I forget which, but I think Ecuador — scouting someone else, and things fell through with that player. That’s when Hackworth learned about Maidana’s situation down in Argentina. A Chilean team held his rights but was loaning him out each season to someone new (an Argentine club, most recently), basically jerking him around while they waited to sell him. So the Union stepped in.

  3. Not only did he do everything you mention in this piece, but the dude was getting back on defense too. Makes his offensive play that much more impressive.

    • That was acutally the only slight weakness in his game I saw. Actually not that weak at all, but compared to some of the other defensive capabilities we have, he seems to lack just a bit of quickness/pace in closing down a defender or winning the ball back. His offensive skills clearly make up for it though. Despite that, I agree, his willingness to try to win the ball back is great.

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